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Old 05-11-2011, 09:29 AM   #1
7D8
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Question Partitions (Win/Linux) and Seperate Data Drives

Hi, as you may have seen in this other thread, I am upgrading my system to a dual boot system running Debian and Win7. I'm trying to get ideas as to how someone else would approach this.

THE PLAN: I have 2x 320gb HDD's and have just purchased 2x 1TB drives. I am planning to architecht this like so:
  • [0] HDD 320gb (NTFS) : Windows OS's with possible partitions (like 10gb) for Win98 (for old games)
  • [1] HDD 320gb (EXT4) : Debian
  • [2] HDD 1tb (NTFS) : Data Drive ( keeps all data from both os's, such as music, pics, videos, docs, etc)
  • [3] HDD 1tb (NTFS) : Data backup for [2] drive

So in effect, I would not be using the "/home" and "My Documents" spaces that machines default to.

CONCERN: there may be inconsistence and/or problems with how Linux and windows will share the data drive. Although I don't foresee any, I would love to get your opinions.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: Partitions (Win/Linux) and Seperate Data Drives

You have the right idea. The rest of my post kind of retierates what you plan on doing and is for the edification of others.


I have (had, a replacement is coming) a single 320GB drive with Win XP, and three different Linux installs on it for my laptop. In fact, I have several dual- and multiboot machines.

Depending on how I planned on using the machine I had a couple different partitioning schemes.

I would plan out my partitions first. You have to do a little math if you want nice, round partition sizes (1024MB==1GB).

I used to use a FAT32 scratchpad partition (a few GB big) so that I could keep data that I wanted to access from both Win and Linux, but in recent years I have found that unnecessary-- Linux now reads and writes to NTFS very well, so I can just reach into the NTFS partitions from Linux whenever I need to. One shouldn't trust that Linux will always be able to read/write completely compatible data with NTFS of whatever new file systems MS dreams up.

Keep in mind that both operating systems do things significantly differently, so even if you are using a program that is ported into both Win and Linux, there's no guarantee that the 'save' data will be compatible between the two OS's (example: Folding@Home data is incompatible between Win and Linux versions). Even text files can be formatted differently between readers, so you may find that a file saved by gedit is better read by Wordpad rather than by Notepad.

Windows will not recognize ext partitions. I hear that there is an app that will allow Win to see and access those partitions, but I have not tried it out and do not know how well it works.

I would start out with a separate /boot partition. It only needs to be a couple gigabytes, if that. Then I'd allocate 20-30GB for each OS (10GB might work for Win98, but not for (XP/Vista/7) and then allocate a another chunk for data.

You will need a /swap partition for the Linux installs. All the installs will use the same partition for /swap, that is not a problem. There is even a way to get Win to use the same partition for the page files, but it seems like a lot of work for little practical benefit.

Keep the /home folder for your Linux installs in a separate partition. You might be tempted to use the same /home folder between separate Linux installations, but I wouldn't recommend it: weird stuff happens when you do that, even if it is just different versions of the same OS.

My (new) laptop drive will look like this:

/boot 2GB
Vista 30GB
Win Data 30GB
/swap 8GB
Ubuntu 10.04 / 30GB
10.4 /home 30GB
Ubuntu 11.04 / 30GB
11.4 /home 30GB
/media 70GB

Note that I have unallocated space on the drive. This is just because I have no need for it yet, but if and when I decide to try out a new OS (say, Ubuntu 11.10 or 12.4), I can install in fresh partitions and retain my current setup. I have a large /media partition to hold my music, ebooks, and videos, which I can access from the Linux installs.

My backup data goes into a Network accessible drive.
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Old 05-11-2011, 12:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: Partitions (Win/Linux) and Seperate Data Drives

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dngrsone View Post
You have the right idea. The rest of my post kind of retierates what you plan on doing and is for the edification of others....
Dngrsone, this is one hell of a setup you have. it's not a bad idea to have the unpartitioned space; I think I may use this approach since I don't need a full 320Gb's for either OS; I can always re-partition that space if all of a sudden I need it, although unlikely.

As for the inconsistencies in the data (i.e., Folding@Home), I'm glad you said this because I will be more vigilant now with what I save. I'm sure eventually i'll come up with a mental list of what to and not to save, where, etc.

Another point I did not realize, although it makes perfect sense, is the single /swap partition. Of course, when the OS reboots, the stuff in /swap is gone, clearing if for the next iteration. This is good news as it cleans up the Linux partitions.

A question though, why would I want to keep the /home folder on a separate partition? I won't be using it, as I will be storing ALL of my data on the independent 1tb drive; I would really like to avoid doing this.
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Old 05-11-2011, 03:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Partitions (Win/Linux) and Seperate Data Drives

The reason behind the separate /home partition is for insurance against screwing up your OS install. Linux is not always a walk in the park, and there are times where you may unintentionally break the OS while trying to do something, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the command-line.

If you have to reinstall, then having your /home folder independent of the OS can preserve the majority of your settings and customizations. You just have to reinstall the OS and any extra programs you had added.
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Old 05-11-2011, 03:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: Partitions (Win/Linux) and Seperate Data Drives

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dngrsone View Post
The reason behind the separate /home partition is for insurance against screwing up your OS install. Linux is not always a walk in the park, and there are times where you may unintentionally break the OS while trying to do something, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the command-line.

If you have to reinstall, then having your /home folder independent of the OS can preserve the majority of your settings and customizations. You just have to reinstall the OS and any extra programs you had added.
hmm... what sort of customization goes in the /home folder besides the basics such as backgrounds and a theme?
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Old 05-11-2011, 04:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: Partitions (Win/Linux) and Seperate Data Drives

Your internet browser settings, customization, bookmarks; your music player settings and ratings, stuff like that. I'd give you more, but I am Ubuntu-free until my new hard drive comes in later this week.
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Old 05-11-2011, 04:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: Partitions (Win/Linux) and Seperate Data Drives

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Originally Posted by Dngrsone View Post
Your internet browser settings, customization, bookmarks; your music player settings and ratings, stuff like that. I'd give you more, but I am Ubuntu-free until my new hard drive comes in later this week.
I see. so it's more of a convenience factor than anything. I keep most stuff in the cloud like notes, bookmarks, etc. so I think I will not make the separate partitions. I guess my view is that ID rather loose that junk than worry about so many partitions.
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Old 05-11-2011, 04:16 PM   #8
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Default Re: Partitions (Win/Linux) and Seperate Data Drives

You have a point.
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:06 PM   #9
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Default Re: Partitions (Win/Linux) and Seperate Data Drives

Ok this is a bit dated, but if you remember I wanted to get the following setup:


Quote:
Originally Posted by 7D8 View Post
  • [0] HDD 320gb (NTFS) : Windows OS's with possible partitions (like 10gb) for Win98 (for old games)
  • [1] HDD 320gb (EXT4) : Debian
  • [2] HDD 1tb (NTFS) : Data Drive ( keeps all data from both os's, such as music, pics, videos, docs, etc)
  • [3] HDD 1tb (NTFS) : Data backup for [2] drive
So I have done so except for drive [1], the Linux drive. I wanted to install it, and I started with Mint Linux Debian, just for fun, I was going to partition the drive into two so I could run Debian and then another distro, at this time Mint. SO upon installing it, it asked me where do I want GRUB installed, so I said install it on drive [0], the drive containing Windows. However, it told me that I don't have enough space on that drive (if i remember correctly). Either way, it failed to install GRUB, and the installation cancelled. Do I need to provide some extra space on drive [0] for GRUB? If so how much. Currently the drive has two partitions:

[0']: System Reserved (100mb)
[0'']: C:\ (297.99)
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