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Thread: Best config and general questions for three drives, multibooting

  1. #1
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    Question Best config and general questions for three drives, multibooting

    Hi all,

    So I had a nice dual boot working with Win7 and Xubuntu. Then, in response to some good partitioning advice on a different thread (link), I decided to mess about with some of my partitions. Guess what? I wiped my D: (user) drive in Windows!

    So I have decided to do a complete wipe of my system (after backing everything up in two places!!) and do a fresh install of both Win7 and Xubuntu.

    Here's my thoughts on the partitioning config. I would love some feedback on what I am proposing, especially if there are any potential minefields I am creating!

    System:
    CPU: Intel Core i5 2500k (3.3GHz)
    RAM: 16GB
    Graphics: Radeon HD 6870

    sda (120GB SSD):
    sda1: 100MB NTFS Windows System Recovery
    sda2: 80GB NTFS Win7

    sdb (500GB HDD):
    sdb1: 500MB ext4 /boot
    sdb2: 18GB swapfile (to allow Linux hibernating)
    sdb3: 100GB ext4 /root (Xubuntu 12.10)
    sdb4: 350GB unallocated

    sdc (1TB HDD):
    sdc1: 1TB NTFS Win7/Linux shared data

    sdd (1TB ext HDD):
    sdd1: 1TB NTFS backup for sda, sdb, sdc

    I know this looks like overkill, but I am a semi-pro photographer and have a lot of photo-related files that require storage on a separate drive and regular back-up to other sources.

    Questions:

    1. Anything wrong with my proposed setup?
    2. My previous dual-boot setup only had one Windows partition, though both Linux and Windows were on the same SSD, are there any dual-booting issues with allowing Windows to keep its System Recovery partition?
    3. I don't know what to do with the 350+GB unallocated on the sdb. Could there be any Linux-related use for that? Could I multiboot different flavours of Linux using the setup in sdb, or will having one /boot partition cause problems with different Linux kernels? 350GB still seems like overkill for this, though!

  2. #2
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    Re: Best config and general questions for three drives, multibooting

    First if your system is an i5 then your BIOS is really UEFI (actually both). You have to install both Windows & Ubuntu in either BIOS mode or UEFI mode and if empty drive install disks should offer both choices. And how you boot install disk is how it installs.

    Also then you have historical MBR(msdos) partitions and gpt partitions. Windows only boots from gpt partitions with UEFI. Ubuntu can use gpt partitions whether BIOS (with bios_grub partition) or UEFI (with efi partition).

    gpt partitioning is required for drives over 2TB, so you do not have to use it. Most understand BIOS/MBR, but new systems are now UEFI and gpt.

    Arch suggests gpt for SSDs. I use gpt on an old rotating drive just to learn about it. Once installed, I cannot tell any difference. But when I added my SSD I had to change to AHCI in BIOS and XP makes that extremely difficult to use, so I stopped using XP

    GPT Advantages srs5694:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1457901

    https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/GPT

    https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Solid_State_Drives

    Windows in BIOS boot from MBR will read data in other gpt drives. So you can stay with BIOS boot but have all but the Windows drive as gpt.

    I keep a lot of unallocated space on my then new 650GB drive. It now is almost full of 25GB / (root) partitions of my older Ubuntu and other experiments. So leave some space unallocated if not sure what to use it for.

    You plan is fine. I prefer not to have a separate /boot (and you cannot share a /boot with other installs).

    With that much RAM some may suggest a virtual install. You lose a bit of performance (usually only gamers care that much) but both systems are running at the same time and you can easily switch.
    Last edited by oldfred; November 19th, 2012 at 04:42 PM.
    For info on UEFI boot install & repair:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to close thread when/if answered completely.







  3. #3
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    Re: Best config and general questions for three drives, multibooting

    I run six hdd's and have tried many partitioning methods. I think it just boils down to what works for you. There are many good ways to do it.

    Some will suggest a seperate "home" partition. Myself I do not and run a shared data partition, rsync to another drive.

    If you install Ubuntu on more than one drive its a good idea to make all drive bootable. That way you can pull a drive and still boot.

    Here's some good reading Watch for "oldfred" in the links, he is full of good advice when it comes to partitioning.

    Edit: LOL

    http://www.googlubuntu.com/results/?...Search&lang=en

  4. #4
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    Re: Best config and general questions for three drives, multibooting

    Quote Originally Posted by ibjsb4 View Post
    watch for "oldfred" in the links, he is full of good advice when it comes to partitioning.
    +1

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    Re: Best config and general questions for three drives, multibooting

    Just to confirm ibjsb4 on system on each drive and data not /home.

    I used to just rotate my working Ubuntu install from drive to drive following this links logic. Now with my SSD, I just make sure I have a working install on every drive.
    Creating a Dedicated Knoppix Partition for large drives
    http://www.troubleshooters.com/linux..._partition.htm
    Except I have multiple Ubuntu installs and rotate newest install from drive to drive.


    I also prefer separate data partitions which seems to be what you are doing.

    Thanks for the kind words, oldfred is just around a lot and promotes his opinions. Hopefully useful, but may not best for each user. I like to see alternatives (even corrections) and then try to improve my suggestions.
    For info on UEFI boot install & repair:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to close thread when/if answered completely.







  6. #6
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    Re: Best config and general questions for three drives, multibooting

    Quote Originally Posted by oldfred View Post
    First if your system is an i5 then your BIOS is really UEFI (actually both). You have to install both Windows & Ubuntu in either BIOS mode or UEFI mode and if empty drive install disks should offer both choices. And how you boot install disk is how it installs.

    Also then you have historical MBR(msdos) partitions and gpt partitions. Windows only boots from gpt partitions with UEFI. Ubuntu can use gpt partitions whether BIOS (with bios_grub partition) or UEFI (with efi partition).

    gpt partitioning is required for drives over 2TB, so you do not have to use it. Most understand BIOS/MBR, but new systems are now UEFI and gpt.

    Arch suggests gpt for SSDs. I use gpt on an old rotating drive just to learn about it. Once installed, I cannot tell any difference. But when I added my SSD I had to change to AHCI in BIOS and XP makes that extremely difficult to use, so I stopped using XP

    GPT Advantages srs5694:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1457901

    https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/GPT

    https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Solid_State_Drives

    Windows in BIOS boot from MBR will read data in other gpt drives. So you can stay with BIOS boot but have all but the Windows drive as gpt.
    I definitely have UEFI. Sounds like I need to read up quite a bit on how to ensure I am using GPT.

    I keep a lot of unallocated space on my then new 650GB drive. It now is almost full of 25GB / (root) partitions of my older Ubuntu and other experiments. So leave some space unallocated if not sure what to use it for.
    Excellent advice, I shall do just that!

    You plan is fine. I prefer not to have a separate /boot (and you cannot share a /boot with other installs).
    Yeah, I'm thinking of changing the Linux HDD to be partition like this:

    -------------------------------------------------
    sdb (500GB HDD) - GPT
    sdb1: swap file
    sdb2: 30GB ext4 /root (Xubuntu 12.10)
    sdb3: 10GB ext4 /home (Xubuntu)
    420GB unallocated space
    -------------------------------------------------

    I've read a really good article (link) about setting up partitions on multi-OS booting machines, so that they share one data partition (my 1TB HDD), but keep the /home hidden config files unique to the distro.

    If I want a new partition, I can simply add a /root and /home partition after sdb3, and configure that one to point to my shared data partition. This makes a lot of sense and ensures the integrity of each OS is not affected by the configurations of the others.

    With that much RAM some may suggest a virtual install. You lose a bit of performance (usually only gamers care that much) but both systems are running at the same time and you can easily switch.
    I do a lot of gaming, so I'd rather keep my precious RAM fully available. Plus, I'd rather not mess with the driver issues which appear to be quite common in virtual OS's.

    So I guess the next thing to do is figure out how to ensure that my Windows 7 install (first step in the whole affair) uses the GPT type.

  7. #7
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    Re: Best config and general questions for three drives, multibooting

    Lol, in the time it took me to write my reply to oldfred, I got three new ones.

    Hmm, so I could get away with my sdb drive only having 2 partitions, a swap and root? I guess that makes sense. There's just so many different ways to go!

    My 1TB data drive is already loaded with a lot of data, so I'm not sure that I'll be creating a Knoppix partition on it, but that is some good reading for maybe looking at in future!

    Thanks for the Knoppix link oldfred, I found an article linked there explaining how to create a dedicated 1MB grub partition to ensure that multiple Linux OS's (and Windows!) can all be displayed in one list. I'll be adding that little 1MB partition to the beginning of my Linux HDD.

    I'll start testing this either today or tomorrow, so will leave this as Unsolved for additional comments until I've had a chance to get it all working nicely. So to confirm, here's my planned install:

    -----------------------------------------------------
    sda (120GB SSD) - GPT
    sda1: NTFS 120GB Win7 (all on one partition following this guide)
    -----------------------------------------------------


    -----------------------------------------------------
    sdb* (500GB HDD) - GPT
    sdb1: EXT2 1MB Grub Partition (guide here)
    sdb2: swap 18GB
    sdb3: EXT4 40GB /root (Xubuntu 12.10)
    remaining disk space unallocated
    -----------------------------------------------------


    -----------------------------------------------------
    sdc* (1TB HDD) - GPT (may need to change this to GPT if it is currently MBR)
    sdc1: NTFS shared data partition
    -----------------------------------------------------


    -----------------------------------------------------
    sdd* (1TB ext HDD) - GBR/MBR?
    sdd1: NTFS backup partition
    -----------------------------------------------------

    *Should sdb, sdc, sdd actually start with an "h" instead of an "s"?

  8. #8
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    Re: Best config and general questions for three drives, multibooting

    can I ask why you're making a swap partition that's 16GB in size? That's huge. I am just trying to learn here. ALso, I always have a seperate /home partition, just my 2 cents. 1mb grub partition seems small to me. WHen I had a dedicated boot partition it was 500mb I believe.
    Check out my Blog about my life and computer software and hardware. http://ubuntuaddicted.blogspot.com/
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    Re: Best config and general questions for three drives, multibooting

    Quote Originally Posted by dannyboy79 View Post
    can I ask why you're making a swap partition that's 16GB in size? That's huge. I am just trying to learn here. ALso, I always have a seperate /home partition, just my 2 cents. 1mb grub partition seems small to me. WHen I had a dedicated boot partition it was 500mb I believe.
    I believe that the 16GB swap partition is for hibernation. To hibernate Ubuntu you need to be able to write the entire contents of your RAM to the swap partition (although it does get compressed so I think that 16GB is probably overkill, however, HD space is so cheap and plentiful that this shouldn't be an issue).

    Also the GRUB partition is not the same as a /boot partition. When you are using GPT formatting instead of MSDOS formatting there isn't enough space to fit all of the bootloader code in the MBR, you need to create a small GRUB BIOS partition for the bootloader code to live in.


    @9littlebees
    I would skip the /boot partition, there really is no need to have this separate nowadays.

    In my setup I have partitions for / and /home on the SSD so that I get the speed advantage that this entails, my home directory only contains the hidden application configuration files, all of the other folders (Music, Pictures, Videos etc) are just symlinks to the actual data directories on the shared NTFS partition on my mechanical drive.
    Cheesemill

  10. #10
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    Re: Best config and general questions for three drives, multibooting

    UEFI installs have extra partitions.

    All installs have to have an efi partition first. Windows also has a unformatted space (system reserved) somewhat like the bios_grub that Ubuntu has in BIOS.

    Older Windows info on gpt - 2008 updated 2011
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/wind.../gg463525.aspx
    Microsoft suggested partitions including reserved partition for gpt & UEFI:
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/l...8WS.10%29.aspx
    Windows technical info on gpt and GUIDs
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/wi...sktop/aa365449
    Order on drive is important:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microso...rved_Partition


    I used to have a grub only partition when using old grub legacy. You have to manually maintain all your boot stanzas, but once you learn you actually copy & paste with a bit of editing for unique UUIDs and partitions. I still in effect do this with my USB flash drives as they have grub2 installs, and manual boot entries to boot ISO with loopmount. Then I can have multiple ISO on one flash drive.

    I also learned for Ranchhand but Cavsfan documented the procedures.
    How to: Create a Customized GRUB2 Screen that is Maintenance Free.- Cavsfan
    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Ma...tomGrub2Screen
    For info on UEFI boot install & repair:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to close thread when/if answered completely.







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