I have an old Dell Inspiron 1545 laptop with a 320gb hard disk, 4gb ram and a Core 2 Duo T9600 cpu (upgraded from the original Pentium T4200). I bought it in 2009 and it came with Windows Vista. About a month later, Dell sent me a Windows 7 upgrade DVD. I've tried Windows 10 on the old machine recently, but that was a little slow and I have a newer laptop that runs Windows 10 quite well.
I've used Windows since Windows 3.0. About 6 months ago, I became interested in Linux.
So, I decided to dedicate the old Dell to Linux distros exclusively, to test them and see which I preferred. I tried live Linux USB's, but I really wanted to try various distros and compare them on a hard disk install.
I partitioned the hard disk with Gparted and installed 10 Linux distros, all accessible/bootable through grub. I set aside 2 x memory as swap (8.096gb), 25gb for home, and a 25gb partition for each of the 10 Linux distros. There is an additional 14gb partition at the end of the disk that has nothing as of yet.
Here is the disk partition scheme: (all 64 bit distros - if available). These were installed about a month ago, using the latest distros available at the time.
/sda1 - swap
/sda2 - home
/sda3 - Linux Mint Cinnamon 17.2
/sda4 - extended partition
/sda5 - Ubuntu 15.10
/sda6 - Fedora
/sda7 - Mageia
/sda8 - Chromixium
/sda9 - Puppy Linux Tahr 6.0
Now it should be really easy to configure, tweak and evaluate each of the Linux distros. Not one of these distros needed help finding drivers. They all supplied all the drivers for my Dell automatically and all of the laptop hardware works.
If I get tired of one of the distros, it should be easy to delete it and install another Linux distro in its place.
I found you can only have 4 Primary partitions on an MBR partitioned hard drive, but if you add 3 Primary and 1 extended Partition, you can add quite a number of logical drives within the extended partition that are all bootable. I've read that you can have 15 to 60 partitions reliably on an MBR partitioned hard drive.
After testing all of these Linux distros, I find I like Linux Mint the best. I also like Chromixium because it's a Cromebook clone, saving me having to buy hardware. It's kind of boring, glad I didn't buy Chromebook hardware.
This screen capture was taken immediately after I installed all of the distros. I had not made any other changes. I installed each distro with it's defaults from a 64-bit ISO made into a Live USB using Rufus in Windows 10. It's interesting to see how much disc space is taken up initially with each distro.
I initially partitioned the hard disc using a Linux Mint Live USB session, using the Gparted partitioning program that comes with it. Each distro was installed with /root assigned to its own respective partition. All the distros share the same swap partition.
Each of these distros is separately bootable from the Grub boot screen. Each distro installed Grub or added itself to Grub as it was installed.
You can edit Grub easily with the graphical editor Grub Customizer.
Here's how to install Grub Customizer.
Much easier than editing Grub by hand.
This program worked well for me on both MBR and UEFI/GPT hard disks.
You can easily install it in a terminal session.
From the Linux desktop press Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard to open the terminal session.
When it opens, paste these commands below one by one and press Enter after pasting or typing each command:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grub-customizer
Now if you check in Menu, Applications.
Grub Customizer should be there.
Start it up and make any desired changes in boot listings, boot order, even color of menu, and a background picture, etc.
After making all of the desired changes to Grub, make sure to select:
File, Install to MBR
To sum it up, I like having all of these distros immediately available to boot and compare. Switching one out for another doesn't affect the others as they are all on separate partitions. My personal files, downloads, data, etc are saved in the /sda2 partition, so that is also not affected by erasing a distro on another partition and replacing it.
This is really the way to go when you want to compare a lot of Linux distros, or try out the latest thing when it's released. Give it a try. You don't need the latest hardware, either. This is a perfect use for your old hardware.
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Edited by Antilope7724, 16 November 2015 - 05:45 AM.