Re: Ready to install dual boot ubuntu, but want to backup MBR. How/When?
Good stuff! You've prepared well and protected yourself. Everyone has answered with conservative recommendations which are appropriate.
Originally Posted by Peter Parkorr
No, you don't have to use a swap unless you want to be able to hibernate. I will tell you that in my experience with 3GB of memory, only when working with a large number of songs or pictures is my swap used much at all. Still, with your amount of disk space it seems reasonable to put a 8GB swap at the end of the disk in the extended partition. More on that later.
You've done all the conservative preparation. Now you need to do something you will see disagreement about in these forums and that does carry some risk. It is my opinion and experience that windows will never shrink itself to where you are not wasting a bunch of space unused in the windows partition. It makes sense. Windows has itself spread out, fat and happy, and while it is in use you are trying to squeeze it down to a disk space diet.
You can keep doing the whole cycle (defrag, shrink, look at application error log, see what stopped the shrink, figure out a way to address that file, do it all over) and find yourself trying to out smart windows by turning off services or features temporarily. This will include changes that should not be permanent and entail some risk. All in the name of shrinking an OS while it is in use. Doesn't make sense to me.
And if you think about it, the default install of ubuntu or any distro you first install on a system that already has windows will use linux tools to shrink the windows partition. If you want to limit windows to a reasonable level of disk space, you too will use linux tools to do this. In the ubuntu world the tool is GParted.
Here is what you'll need to do with it. This is after you've done what you have done. Ensure that no more than 3 primary partitions exist so you can create an extended partition with logical partitions in it. This means some people will have to delete an existing manufacturer tools partition or some other partition that you can do without.
1. Determine how much free space you should leave within your windows partition for future needs. If you want to leave 30GB free for example and you currently have 200GB free, you'll shrink enough to free up 170GB. Know how much windows is using and much you want to leave it free, shrink the partition by the remaining amount.
2. Get some familiarity with GParted. You can boot the live cd/usb and run GParted to do that. It isn't hard to use but use it's help to understand how to do what you plan to do.
3. Understand your partition layout. After shrinking will your free space all be contiguous? Shrinking the windows partition will leave free unused space at the end of the location it is using now on the drive. If you had to delete a partition, does it leave free space at the beginning of the disk or will it be contiguous with what you get from the shrink? The extended partition will need to use contiguous space on the disk.
4. Think about how you plan to use the space for linux. You don't have to be able to see the future with clairvoyance but if you have desires and plans, plot that use out on the drive. You can make changes later but you should think about this and make partition changes as seldom as you can. If you want to share a partition for documents, pictures, music, etc., how big does it need to be and will it be shared just among linux distros or with windows too? A partition shared with windows needs to be formatted as NTFS but if it is only a linux share it should be EXT4 or another journaling file system. Know what partitions you'll be creating, what they will be used for and how big they'll be. One swap partition can be used for multiple linux distributions if you'll be installing multiple distros. Put the swap at the end.
5. Start out with one change at a time. If you shrink windows, do only that, reboot and windows will want at least one chkdsk to run. There may be two reboots with a chkdsk each time. Make sure windows functions as expected before proceeding. Then if there is an existing extended partition (you don't have one now in this case) expand it and then reboot and retest existing functionality.
6. I recommend that you create partitions prior to ubuntu/linux installation and then during installation direct the installer to use your planned partitions. During the disk allocation section of installation you can choose a partition for the / (root) mount point. You need that and you don't need to set anything for the swap if a swap type of partition already exists from your preparation. If you want a shared home partition for that distro to use, you need to choose the partition for that and set its mount point as /Home. The other mount point choices are seldom used.
I think that is a long enough post (sorry for the length) for now. If this brings up questions, please ask.
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