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Partitioning a new HD for dual boot - Linux Setup, Configuration & Administration

I'm about to jump into Linux feet first, and I could use a little advice on partitioning the hard drive before I begin. I have purchased a new 40 GB hard drive for an HP Pavilion 4440 with 192 MB RAM (don't laugh, it's what's on hand). It's running on the Phoenix Technologies LTD 1.02 11/18/98 BIOS, and the current OS is Win98. It is currently equipped with two hard drives, a 4 GB drive that has the current Win98 install and a 2 GB drive used for data. I do not currently plan to use either existing drive for ...

  1. #1

    Default Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    I'm about to jump into Linux feet first, and I could use a little
    advice on partitioning the hard drive before I begin.

    I have purchased a new 40 GB hard drive for an HP Pavilion 4440 with
    192 MB RAM (don't laugh, it's what's on hand). It's running on the
    Phoenix Technologies LTD 1.02 11/18/98 BIOS, and the current OS is
    Win98. It is currently equipped with two hard drives, a 4 GB drive
    that has the current Win98 install and a 2 GB drive used for data. I
    do not currently plan to use either existing drive for the newly
    configured system; I will back them up and restore what data I need to
    the new drive later. I intend to use Linux for as many tasks as
    possible, but expect that I'll need a few Windows legacy apps around
    for a while yet. I will be installing Red Hat 9. Windows 98 will be
    freshly installed to the Windows partition.

    I'm looking for a reasonable partitioning plan. I've come up with the
    following first approximation:

    mount point type size comment
    (none) vfat 2 GB Windows boot
    / ext2 2 GB Linux root
    /mnt/win_hdd2 vfat 6 GB Windows apps, shareable data
    /usr ext2 5 GB Linux system binaries
    /usr/local ext2 14 GB Linux apps
    /home ext2 10 GB Linux user directories
    swap swap 1 GB Linux swap

    Some questions:

    Am I correct in my understanding that non-system Linux apps (games,
    productivity software, etc.) are customarily installed in /usr/local?

    I'm aware of the need to have the Windows and Linux boot partitions
    close to the beginning of the disk, due to limitations in the BIOS and
    the boot loader. Other than that, is the order of partitions
    important? Would a order othar than that shown above make for an
    easier install?

    Have I alloted too little or too much swap space for Linux?

    Thanks in advacnce for any comments and suggestions...

    LB
    Lije Guest

  2. #2

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Lije Bailey wrote:
     

    ....
     


    I think you are perhaps doing too much of a planning. I decided the
    following for my 60 GB hard disk:

    1. About half = 30 GB for Windows, the other half for Linux.

    2. As I have Windows XP with NTFS file system (to which you cannot write
    from Linux), I thought a small vfat partition would be handy in order to
    have a place where I can read and write from both OS.

    3. /home should be on a separate partition in order to allow for scratching
    the OS without scratching the user data. Yhis is particular helpful if you
    (after a year or so) want to have a fresh installation of a newer Linux
    version rather than upgrading.

    Besides these considerations, I more or less followed SuSE's partition
    proposal during installation. The result is below.

    I read somewhere that swap space should be something in the range 1-2 x RAM.
    You have quite a big swap space which might not be needed.

    The boot-partition-close-to-the-beginning issue is really something for
    ancient BIOSes and bootloaders. I have the GRUB boot loader in the Master
    Boot Record, and there are no problems to start Linux which is located in a
    partition with start cylinder 3832.

    Regards, Hermann


    ------------------------
    zorro:~ # fdisk -l

    Disk /dev/hda: 60.0 GB, 60022480896 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 7297 cylinders
    Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

    Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
    /dev/hda1 1 6 48163+ de Dell Utility <Rescue system>
    /dev/hda2 * 7 3831 30724312+ 7 HPFS/NTFS <Windows XP>
    /dev/hda3 3832 7297 27840645 f Win95 Ext'd (LBA) <ext. partition>
    /dev/hda5 3832 3833 16033+ 83 Linux </boot>
    /dev/hda6 3834 3962 1036161 82 Linux swap <swap space>
    /dev/hda7 3963 4462 4016218+ 83 Linux </>
    /dev/hda8 4463 4619 1261071 83 Linux </var>
    /dev/hda9 4620 7001 19133383+ 83 Linux </home>
    /dev/hda10 7002 7297 2377588+ c Win95 FAT32 (LBA) <vfat>




    Hermann Guest

  3. #3

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Lije Bailey wrote:
     

    right here, i would dedicate the balance of the
    drive's space to an extended partition, then create
    the required logical partitions [in the ext.]
     

    i'd make this /boot and make another for / (and
    i'd also make it larger than this)
     

    i'd only use the single /usr and not worry about /usr/local
     

    the *simplest* solution would be:
    primary partition for win
    extended partition
    logical for /boot
    logical for fat32 (shared partition)
    logical for /
    logical for swap

    a sampling for an old box of mine:
    # fdisk -l

    Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
    /dev/hda1 1 7 56196 6 FAT16
    /dev/hda2 * 8 4982 39961687+ f Win95 Ext'd (LBA)
    /dev/hda5 8 155 1188778+ 7 HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/hda6 156 174 152586 b Win95 FAT32
    /dev/hda7 175 207 265041 82 Linux swap
    /dev/hda8 208 208 8001 83 Linux
    /dev/hda9 209 209 8001 83 Linux
    /dev/hda10 * 210 211 16033+ 83 Linux
    /dev/hda11 212 364 1228941 83 Linux
    /dev/hda12 378 747 2971993+ 83 Linux
    /dev/hda13 748 951 1638598+ 83 Linux
    /dev/hda14 952 1883 7486258+ 83 Linux
    /dev/hda15 1884 2138 2048256 6 FAT16
    /dev/hda16 2139 2393 2048256 6 FAT16
    /dev/hda17 2394 2521 1028128+ 6 FAT16
    /dev/hda18 2522 2781 2088418+ 6 FAT16
    /dev/hda19 2782 4982 17679501 83 Linux
    /dev/hda20 365 377 104391 83 Linux

    this has multiple Linux'es on it, hence the multiple
    /boot and / partitions (and a few fats). for example,
    for the suse system, /boot == hda10 and / == hda19,
    and they all share swap
    ..
    --
    /// Michael J. Tobler: motorcyclist, surfer, skydiver, \\\
    \\\ and author: "Inside Linux", "C++ HowTo", "C++ Unleashed" ///
    Now I lay me down to sleep
    I pray the double lock will keep;
    May no brick through the window break,
    And, no one rob me till I awake.

    mjt Guest

  4. #4

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    On 11 Oct 2003 08:24:47 -0700,
    Lije Bailey <com> wrote: 

    Running an HP Pavilion 4450 with 256MB. Adequate, though if you use
    KDE or Gnome (with Nautilus) it will probably be a little more sluggish
    than 98 unless you turn off all unneeded services. Using a lighter GUI
    I expect you'll be pretty happy (IceWM, fvwm95, xfce, fluxbox/blackbox,
    etc).
     

    I believe that's usually the case for apps that don't come with the
    distro, and aren't installed via package manager. Some also use /opt.
     

    It's best to leave windows at the beginning of the disk to ease
    reinstalls (of windows), Windows boots from the first (should be only)
    active primary partition. Keep in mind, if you had this disk up and
    running in Dos/Windows with a different size for the first vfat
    partition, you must blank the first sector of that partion before you
    format it in Dos/Windows or it may format the previously allocated space
    for that partition. I'd imagine PM works around it, but it should be
    done if you are relying on fdisk (windows or linux, see man fdisk for
    details.)
     

    About half of that should be more than sufficient, IIRC 2x memory is the
    usual rule of thumb, so 384MB should be sufficient.

    I'd use ext3 instead of ext2, fscking a handful of multi-gig ext2
    filesystems can be a real PITA, ext3 is usually very quick.


    --
    com http://mcsuper5.freeshell.org/
    Registered Linux User #303915 http://counter.li.org/


    Michael Guest

  5. #5

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    On Sat, 11 Oct 2003 17:02:45 GMT,
    mjt <com> wrote: 

    /boot isn't required, and for newbies can make things unnecessarily
    complicated. IIRC this was implemented to cirvent limitations in the
    Bios, by keeping boot files within the 8G limit. When writing the
    bootloader (LILO or Grub) to the MBR, you aren't limited by the Bios and
    you might as well just leave it boot on / instead of giving it its own
    partition.
     

    Is there a particular reason you have /dev/hda10 active? The only use
    I've seen for setting a partition to active is to tell the default boot
    loader which partition to boot, and I'm pretty sure the default boot
    loader requires it to be a primary partition.

    Michael C.
    --
    com http://mcsuper5.freeshell.org/
    Registered Linux User #303915 http://counter.li.org/


    Michael Guest

  6. #6

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Michael C. wrote:
     
    >
    >
    > /boot isn't required, and for newbies can make things unnecessarily
    > complicated. IIRC this was implemented to cirvent limitations in the
    > Bios, by keeping boot files within the 8G limit. When writing the
    > bootloader (LILO or Grub) to the MBR, you aren't limited by the Bios and
    > you might as well just leave it boot on / instead of giving it its own
    > partition.[/ref]

    Yes, you were so limited with some systems. The "8 Gig limit" was
    actually a 1023 cylinder limit: 1024 cylinders * 255 sectors * 63 heads
    * 512 bytes gives approximately 8 Gigabytes. Alternative sector/head
    configurations would actually make the size *smaller*, since as near as
    I can tell nothing uses more than the 255 sectors * 63 heads setting.
    The BIOS *could not be told* to seek a boot block past the 1023 cylinder.

    Newer BIOS's and updates to LILO and new tools like grub seem to have
    eliminated this old limitation.

    Nico Guest

  7. #7

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Michael C. wrote:
     

    howdy Michael .... yes, i mentioned this since my assumption
    is that the OP has an older machine: i prolly should have done
    a search for the OPs "1.02 11/18/98 BIOS" bios specs. but
    you're right, you dont really need a /boot if you dont want.
    (but i do :)
     [/ref]
     

    ... yep, "system commander" does that, automagically :)
    ..
    --
    /// Michael J. Tobler: motorcyclist, surfer, skydiver, \\\
    \\\ and author: "Inside Linux", "C++ HowTo", "C++ Unleashed" ///
    Better dead than mellow.

    mjt Guest

  8. #8

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Lije Bailey on Saturday 11 October 2003 15:24 wrote:
     

    OK
     

    Since you've separated out /usr, /usr/local, and /home, it isn't
    necessary to have / this large. 300 to 500MB is fine, if nothing
    major (like KDE is on some distros) gets installed in /opt and you
    pull out /var and /tmp (see below). Otherwise, 1GB is more than
    sufficient.
     

    I would put this partition immediately after your Windows boot
    partition, and make both Primary partitions, then make the balance of
    the drive a Linux Extended partition, and put all your Linux
    partitions there.
     

    Are you planning on have lots of users on your system or downloading
    lots of large files? All these partitions are way too big, if you're
    not.

    There's really no need to have separate /usr & /usr/local unless
    you're running a server. Making these separated partitions makes it
    easier (as well as improve each's security) to set access permissions
    for users to install software that everyone can use. They all would
    have read, write and execute permission on /usr/local, but only read
    and execute on /usr -- only the root user would have write permission
    there.

    In a home system, I would keep /usr/local as a directory in /usr. In
    this case, 5GB total for /usr is more than enough.
     

    Too big, unless you're planning on running some very memory intensive
    applications. 256M should be more than enough. My system has 256MB
    RAM and 256MB swap. The swap rarely gets used. Also, put swap
    closer to the beginning of the drive for improved performance.
    Between / and /usr would be good.

     

    No, not always.
     

    For Linux, it is no longer necessary to have /boot or / in the first
    1024 cylinders of the HD. This was originally a limitation of the
    Linux Loader (lilo). It no longer applies. For Windows, however, I
    would load that OS on the first partition of the drive, the C:
    partition -- /dev/hda1, make it a Primary, and bootable. (Windows
    likes to be on first partition on the drive.) Don't make any other
    partitions bootable. Linux doesn't need it, and 2 bootable
    partitions may confuse Windows.

    Here's how I would partition:

    /dev/hda1 Primary vfat 2GB Windows System
    /dev/hda2 Primary vfat 6GB
    (/dev/hda3 Linux Extended to end of drive)
    /dev/hda5 Logical ext3 1GB /
    /dev/hda6 Logical 256MB swap
    /dev/hda7 Logical ext3 5Gb /usr
    /dev/hda8 Logical ext3 2 - 5GB /home

    For safety, to prevent / from becoming full if infected by a virus,
    which would prevent the system from booting or running, I would pull
    /var out of / and make it a partition. 100MB is good enough. I would
    also do a symbolic link of /tmp to /var/tmp for the same reasons.

    Leave the balance of the drive unpartitioned. This would be used for
    future expansion.

    For further study, I suggest reading the appropriate HOWTOs at The
    Linux Doentation Project -- www.tldp.org -- particularly the ones
    on Partitioning and Dual or Multiple OS installations.

    --
    Stefan Patric
    com
    Stefan Guest

  9. #9

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Lije Bailey <com> wrote: 

    Since you already have Windows running on the 4GB, leave it alone. Put
    Linux on the 40GB. Try to separate the OS in separate disk.

     

    No. /usr/local is for stuffs other than what came on the distribution
    CD, usually installed by you.

    --
    William Park, Open Geometry Consulting, <ca>
    Linux solution for data management and processing.
    William Guest

  10. #10

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    On Sun, 12 Oct 2003 01:23:43 GMT,
    mjt <com> wrote: 
    >
    > howdy Michael .... yes, i mentioned this since my assumption
    > is that the OP has an older machine: i prolly should have done
    > a search for the OPs "1.02 11/18/98 BIOS" bios specs. but
    > you're right, you dont really need a /boot if you dont want.
    > (but i do :)
    > [/ref]

    >
    > .. yep, "system commander" does that, automagically :)[/ref]

    Okay, so that's who dunnit, anyone have a clue as to why? My first
    guess would be so SC knows what to boot, but /dev/hda1 was active as
    well, IIRC. So it can't be that simple.

    Michael C.
    --
    com http://mcsuper5.freeshell.org/
    Registered Linux User #303915 http://counter.li.org/


    Michael Guest

  11. Moderated Post

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Removed by Administrator
    Nico Guest
    Moderated Post

  12. #12

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Michael C. wrote:
     
    >>
    >>..yep,"systemcommander"doesthat,automagica lly:)[/ref]
    >
    > Okay, so that's who dunnit, anyone have a clue as to why?Myfirst
    > guess would be so SC knows what to boot, but /dev/hda1 was active as
    > well, IIRC.Soitcan'tbethatsimple[/ref]

    ..... because SC is installed to /dev/hda1 and that partition
    has to be active to appropriate the changes, then it sets
    the chosen partition active so as to boot it
    ..
    --
    /// Michael J. Tobler: motorcyclist, surfer, skydiver, \\\
    \\\ and author: "Inside Linux", "C++ HowTo", "C++ Unleashed" ///
    Where humor is concerned there are no standards - no one can say
    what is good or bad, although you can be sure that everyone will.

    mjt Guest

  13. #13

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Stefan Patric <com> wrote in message news:<B76ib.22353$Rd4.19344fed1read07>...
     

    This is a simple and logical approach. I like it. Thanks, Stefan.
     

    I've been slogging thru them. The concepts are slowly penetrating this old brain.

    LB
    Lije Guest

  14. #14

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Lije Bailey <com> wrote: 
    >
    > This is a simple and logical approach. I like it. Thanks, Stefan.[/ref]

    But he's out by a factor of 10. 1GB is about right for /var in that
    config.

    % du -sx /var/*
    7 /var/account
    2 /var/autofs
    153 /var/backups
    21476 /var/cache
    5 /var/dhcp
    334 /var/games
    2 /var/home
    92 /var/intermezzo-0
    82396 /var/lib
    1 /var/list
    1 /var/lists
    1 /var/local
    3 /var/lock
    145483 /var/log
    1843 /var/lost+found
    0 /var/mail
    3 /var/news
    77 /var/run
    6 /var/samba
    13201 /var/spool
    12322 /var/state
    630984 /var/tmp
    70 /var/www
    22 /var/yp
    %

    and that's just a client machine.

    Peter
    Peter Guest

  15. #15

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    mjt wrote:
     
    >
    > .... because SC is installed to /dev/hda1 and that partition
    > has to be active to appropriate the changes, then it sets
    > the chosen partition active so as to boot it[/ref]

    .... my mistake as i wasnt paying attention. SC *IS* in
    /dev/hda1, but /dev/hda2, which you inquired about, is
    the extended partition, which is where /dev/hda10 is,
    which is the /boot partition :)
    ..
    --
    /// Michael J. Tobler: motorcyclist, surfer, skydiver, \\\
    \\\ and author: "Inside Linux", "C++ HowTo", "C++ Unleashed" ///
    Practical people would be more practical if they would take
    a little more time for dreaming. - J. P. McEvoy

    mjt Guest

  16. #16

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    William Park <ca> wrote in message news:<bmar2p$km52m$news.uni-berlin.de>...
     

    The Windows install on my current 4 GB drive is hosed in several
    regards. Reinstalling from scratch is a much better option for me.

    LB
    Lije Guest

  17. #17

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Lije Bailey <com> wrote: 
    >
    > The Windows install on my current 4 GB drive is hosed in several
    > regards. Reinstalling from scratch is a much better option for me.[/ref]

    My sympathy. Then, reinstall into the same disk. You can set aside 2GB
    partition on the new 40GB as replacement of your old 2GB disk. Of
    course, how many disks you want to have would depend on your need and
    expertise, I guess.

    --
    William Park, Open Geometry Consulting, <ca>
    Linux solution for data management and processing.
    William Guest

  18. Moderated Post

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Removed by Administrator
    Stefan Guest
    Moderated Post

  19. #19

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Stefan Patric wrote:
     
     
    >
    >
    > I would agree, if I thought the OP was going to be receiving lots of
    > multi-part mail binaries or doing kernel RPM compilations or
    > maintaining his own mail and news servers or hosting his own web
    > site, but I don't think he is going to be doing that. When you're
    > not doing all that, a 100MB /var is sufficient . I ran one that size
    > for over a year on a single user, stand-alone system, and it was
    > never more than 25% full. Most of the time, it was less.[/ref]

    Umm. Yeah, most of the time, certainly. But it's kind of like having a
    car that can go fast enough. Most of the time, it's parked. But when you
    get out on the highway, you'd *better* have the speed to pull into
    traffic, or you're going to have in trouble.

    The question is more "what did it peak at"? For a stand-alone
    single-user system, you have more control. For a multi-user system? Or a
    default install to hand off to someone else? I'd keep them big enough to
    support suprises.

    Nico Guest

  20. #20

    Default Re: Partitioning a new HD for dual boot

    Nico Kadel-Garcia on Monday 13 October 2003 13:16 wrote:
     

    >>
    >>
    >> I would agree, if I thought the OP was going to be receiving lots
    >> of multi-part mail binaries or doing kernel RPM compilations or
    >> maintaining his own mail and news servers or hosting his own web
    >> site, but I don't think he is going to be doing that. When you're
    >> not doing all that, a 100MB /var is sufficient . I ran one that
    >> size for over a year on a single user, stand-alone system, and it
    >> was
    >> never more than 25% full. Most of the time, it was less.[/ref]
    >
    > Umm. Yeah, most of the time, certainly. But it's kind of like having
    > a car that can go fast enough. Most of the time, it's parked. But
    > when you get out on the highway, you'd *better* have the speed to
    > pull into traffic, or you're going to have in trouble.[/ref]

    I doubt that there will be any problems. After all, the OP only needs
    a mini-van, not an 18 wheel, tractor-trailer rig.
     

    I didn't care what it peaked at as long as it never max'd out. It
    never did.

    My impression was the OP was upgrading his machine to Linux for his
    singular personal use, and that he would be the only user, etc. Why
    give partition recommendations for a multi-user, developer, server
    set up, when it's just going to be used for casual personal
    computing? If, at some point, he needs larger or more partitions,
    there's more than enough space left on the drive to accomodate that.

    If a 100MB /var really bothers you so much, how about a 256MB one?
    That's what I'm running on my current system: 900MHz AMD, 256MB RAM,
    256MB swap, Slackware 9.0. /var has yet to go over 10% usage, but
    then I don't do anything that really requires lots of temp space.

    --
    Stefan Patric
    com
    Stefan Guest

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