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Thread: How to install to separate Linux partition without damaging windows

  1. #1
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    How to install to separate Linux partition without damaging windows

    Hello all! It's been 13 years since I had a working Linux machine and I want to rectify that. I had terrible experience with the installation in 2008, and was hoping someone could guide me through a good install this time.

    Last February, I bought a new 500GB SSD, with the intention of installing both Windows 7 and Ubuntu on it. Yes, I know Windows 7 is no longer supported, and a security risk. But I wanted to run some old Windows engineering software, and do my browsing and other work with Ubuntu. So when I installed the SSD, I created 4 partitions - a NTFS partition for Windows 7, a swap partition for Windows, an EXT3 partition for Ubuntu, and a swap partition for Ubuntu. Due to a death in the family and this crazy virus, I'm only just now am getting around to installing Ubuntu.

    I put the 18.04.3 LTS installer on a CD. My hardware is old, so I thought 18.04 would run faster than the current LTS version. I booted up with the CD, and selected install. It detected Windows 7. I told it I wanted to keep and use the Windows 7 installation. Then came the problem... WHERE to install. I started the partition manager, and it asked me to select a partition for the boot loader. I don't understand mount points and boot loaders. I tried selecting the EXT3 partition for the boot loader, and the installer would not continue. Do I select the NTFS partition for the boot loader? Will it then ask me where to install the kernel and apps? Or will it put the kernel on the NTFS partition? I did not want to destroy my Windows 7 installation, so I exited and sought out the experts here.

    Thanks for listening! Hope you can help me.

  2. #2
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    Re: How to install to separate Linux partition without damaging windows

    Just how old is your hardware? Pretty much verything after 2011 has UEFI capability, even if it wasn't used, and it sounds like you booted the Ubuntu install media in UEFI mode (depends upon the BIOS/UEFI settings of your machine, since the ISO does both), and it got confused because you didn't have an EFI partition on the disk. Install Ubuntu in the same mode as Windows. Win7 is USUALLY in legacy mode, and if it boots without an EFI partition (but it could be on another disk), and the disk partitioning is MSDOS instead of GPT, Win7 is in legacy.

  3. #3
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    Re: How to install to separate Linux partition without damaging windows

    Original Windows 7 ISO was BIOS only, but could be copied to flash drive, files moved & renamed to make it UEFI. But the updated one, included the UEFI boot files.
    So then it installs in the boot mode that you boot the installer.
    New systems then should show in UEFI boot menu, two options to boot flash drive, if UEFI Secure boot is off, one UEFIxx and just xxx for BIOS.

    Actually newer versions of Ubuntu often work better, even on older hardware.
    If before about 2012, then likely to be BIOS only. Windows required vendors to install Windows 8 in UEFI mode to gpt partitioned drives starting in 2012.

    Also better to use ext4.

    If older, lighter weight flavor better as less gui resources required.
    Current Releases & Flavors
    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Releases
    https://ubuntu.com/download/flavours
    https://www.ubuntu.com/about/about-ubuntu/flavours

    Light weight flavors:
    Lubuntu, xubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Budgie

    My 2006 Core2 64 bit laptop with only 1.5GB of RAM, would not install 20.04 Ubuntu desktop. I had to install 20.04 server & added fallback which is another light weight gui similar to old gnome2. Like Ubuntu was in 2008 with some updates.
    I then installed Kubuntu since changed to that on my main system and it worked acceptably well.
    For more info on UEFI boot install & repair - Regularly Updated :
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to change to [Solved] when/if answered completely.

  4. #4
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    Re: How to install to separate Linux partition without damaging windows

    I'll stick my 2 bob's worth in here.

    500gb ssd, you have already installed win7 but you do not state in what mode, old bios or UEFI.

    This is how to proceed with UEFI boot:
    Win 7 will already have made an EFI partition, probably sda1.

    You will need to partition the drive with the linux installer -> choose manual partitioning.

    Delete all the partitions you have made for linux (not windows or the EFI partitions), you can do this in the installer and then you will get the correct flags.

    My advice would be to create 2 or 3 extra partitions, one about 50gb for linux (this will be more than adequate - 25gb is the recommended size I think), and whatever is left for your home directory. I would use ext4 for these for simplicity.
    If you have less than 8gb ram, I would also create a swap partition of at least 16gb. If you have 16gb or more of ram don't bother with swap.

    This next bit is critical. You MUST identify your EFI/BOOT partition, it will be a FAT32 and will probably designated sda1 and set the efi/boot flags on it in the installer

    Set the flags on your linux partition as / and your home partition as /home.

    You do this in the drop-down box in the partitioning menu when choosing the partition type-fat32, ext2, ext4, btrfs etc.

    This procedure is only if win7 is installed in UEFI mode. If win7 is installed in bios mode I would personally start again from scratch with an UEFI install for win7. That way you would have a system which is using current practice.

    Cheers, Tony.
    Asus Z270i7 16gb rm 8tb GT1660 TSB6205 Quad tunr Ubnt Studio 21.04 Greedy/Win 10 Be/FE mythtv 0.32Homerun dual netwk tunr 55¨ Smsng ES8000 Lap Smsng NP R580 i5 nvidia linux Ultimate/Win 10

  5. #5
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    Re: How to install to separate Linux partition without damaging windows

    You never install a Linux (Grub) bootloader to an ntfs partition. You should leave the default for device for bootloader installation which in your case with only one drive would be the SSD on which you are installing Ubuntu. If you install Grub to the Ubuntu partition it won't boot as you also need Grub code in the MBR.

  6. #6
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    Re: How to install to separate Linux partition without damaging windows

    I have been trying to find some pictures/images that show what we mean when we explain in words what we have to do. This is what I have come up with. It is Ubuntu Mate but the images also apply to Ubuntu

    https://ubuntu-mate.community/t/inst...lse-method/651

    At the first Installation Type dialog select Somethine Else
    At the second Installation Type dialog select the partition you want to install Ubuntu in. Then click the Change button.
    At the Edit Partition dialog you can change the size of the partition if you want and if there is unallocated space around it.
    In the Use As panel select Ext4 journaling file system from the drop down menu.
    Tick the box to format the partition
    Then in the Mount Point panel select / from the drop down menu
    Click OK

    Even if you have not changed the partition size you will see a dialog with the option to Go Back or Continue. Click Continue
    When back at the Installation Type dialog confirm the device [drive] for the installation of the boot loader. If there is only one drive, then there is only one device/drive that the boot loader can go.

    If you decide to have a separate partition for Home you do the same as before but select the partition that you want as Home and this time set the mount point (or flag) to /home.
    The procedure for giving Ubuntu a swap partition is the same but the mount point is /swap. Although you might not needed it with Ubuntu 20.04 as that version uses a swap file.

    The guide that I have linked to is showing a dual boot between Windows 7 and Ubuntu on the same drive. Similar to what you are desiring to do. I prefer to use GParted in a Ubuntu Live session to create my partitions and then use the installer to assign them mount points.

    Regards
    Last edited by grahammechanical; January 23rd, 2021 at 07:11 PM.
    It is a machine. It is more stupid than we are. It will not stop us from doing stupid things.
    Ubuntu user #33,200. Linux user #530,530


  7. #7
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    Re: How to install to separate Linux partition without damaging windows

    Quote Originally Posted by ubfan1 View Post
    Just how old is your hardware? Pretty much verything after 2011 has UEFI capability, even if it wasn't used, and it sounds like you booted the Ubuntu install media in UEFI mode (depends upon the BIOS/UEFI settings of your machine, since the ISO does both), and it got confused because you didn't have an EFI partition on the disk. Install Ubuntu in the same mode as Windows. Win7 is USUALLY in legacy mode, and if it boots without an EFI partition (but it could be on another disk), and the disk partitioning is MSDOS instead of GPT, Win7 is in legacy.
    Sorry for the delay in responding. I've been laid up. No UEFI. I built my machine in late 2008. Good quality gaming components. I had so much problem with the installation that it sat unused for close to three years. The SSD, is a Samsung 860 SATA purchased last Jan /Feb. I do not understand your directions. Same mode as Windows? Legacy mode?

  8. #8
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    Feb 2011
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    Re: How to install to separate Linux partition without damaging windows

    Thanks everyone. It's going to take sometime to digest this. I don't realky understand what UEFI is, but I doubt my 2008 MB has it. All I know is when I opened the partition manager it found the four partitions I made last year with my standalone partitioning tool, and it asked me where to put the bootloader. I did not see a DOS partition in the list, just the Win 7 (on NTFS), the empty EXT3 partition, and the swap partitions I had made. Do I direct the installer to put the bootloader on the NTFS partition? Will it then allow me to put the kernel and apps on the EXT3 partition? I hate to risk reformatting now, as I'm likely to screwvup and damage the Windows boot.

  9. #9
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    Re: How to install to separate Linux partition without damaging windows

    You always install boot loaders to a drive, never to a partition.
    BIOS systems boot from the MBR, which is the very first sector on a drive and is not part of any partition.
    Grub does have additional boot code hidden in the sectors just have the MBR and before the first partition, but that is all automatic & you do not see that.

    If from 2008, then a BIOS only system.

    Windows requires MBR partitioning if in BIOS boot mode, so you have the 4 primary partition limit.
    You can have any of the Linux partitions in a logical partition, but Windows can only boot from a primary NTFS partition with the boot flag.
    For more info on UEFI boot install & repair - Regularly Updated :
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to change to [Solved] when/if answered completely.

  10. #10
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    Re: How to install to separate Linux partition without damaging windows

    GrahamMechanical-
    Thank you for the link to the procedure. My inference from the discussion is that "/" is the location the kernel/OS, applications will be installed, and "/home" is where user data will go. Is that correct? Can I direct both "/" and "/home" to the same partition? Or alternatively, can I place "/" in my EXT3 partition, and / "/home" in my NTFS partition? (I did not setup a separate partition for my Windows data. It's in the MyDocuments folder in the same NTFS partition as the Windows OS.) Is there a good reason why I should reformat to EXT4?

    Oldfred-

    So "/" does not identify the location of the boot loader? And I should select "sda", rather than a partition for it's location? I only have the one drive with four partitions. I believe when I partitioned the drive with Partition Commander that I made four primary partitions.


    I really don't understand all this terminology. I wish someone would define "mount point" "/" , "/home", for me, and or direct me to a diagram or video which explains the structure of Ubuntu Linux. I know for instance that Windows places the OS in the "System" folder, and applications in their own folder. I assume Linux has something similar.

    I'm 66 and in very poor health, with failing vision. This stuff is tough for me to understand. I get overloaded fast.

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