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Partitions and multi-boot questions

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by BikerGoddess, Sep 10, 2004.

  1. BikerGoddess

    BikerGoddess Got hairspray?

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    So, I went a little crazy at Fry's today...

    I'm trying to find the best way to set up my new 160G HDD. I'm think I'd like to at least dual boot Windows and Linux. I'm not against trying two versions Linux or something else. Just kinda thinking about options at this point.

    It's been awhile since I've partitioned a drive, so I'm wondering if it's possible to increase the partition size once the OS is loaded. And if it is, do I start my second partition at a later cylinder block? or is it better to just pick something now and live with the results?

    I'm thinking I could do two partitions of 40G, one starting at 80G, leaving me room for either two additional 40G partitions or the ability to expand either exisiting partition to 80G.

    On an unrelated note, which Linux flavor is closest to Solaris?

    Thanks,
    Laura
     
  2. fastvfr

    fastvfr Ancient Tech

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    Hey, Laura;

    You can use Partition Magic to change the size of a partition after it has an OS installed, but I have seen that fail several times due to losses of critical data.

    I have a 160GB P-ATA (IDE 133) RAID set up to boot XP Pro, and I also have two other IDE 80GB Maxtors, which are much more interesting.

    If you are new to Linux, then the first thing you ought to do is read. A lot. Learn which releases are the most stable, which ones support a wider variety of hardware, and which best support the types of tasks you want it to perform.

    Unfortunately, due to the differences in the manner in which the various 'flavors' can be set up, meaning whether a module or the kernel itself performs certain functions or the particular structure of that OS, it is not possible to create a standard that can be used to install software in all forms of Linux as is the case with MacOS or Windoze. You just can't make installing apps as simple as dropping in a disk then applying a few mouseclicks. Well, at least not if you expect the program to work!

    Then, when adding programs in Linux, you get into Dependencies...you probably won't like those.

    The way I choose to work around these issues is through the use of several partitions.

    Linux requires a minimum of two partitions, one of 3GB or greater and at least 256MB set aside, with a different format, for swap file space; it works the same way Windows' Page File virtual RAM does.

    I use four partitions per kernel, though one is a shared archive. A bit excessive in the minds of some, but extremely practical.

    I have a copy of Win98/FAT32 on the first partition of hdb, one of my IDE HDD's. This is for use with WINE emulation.

    Hdb2 and hdb3 are NTFS partitions, one only a gig and used as an XP swapfile, the other larger and storing XP files.

    Debian's partition-naming scheme skipped hdb4, for some reason, so hdb5(8GB, EXT3) has the root (/) directory of my Knoppix 3.4 installed there.

    I moved the Knoppix /home directory to hdb6 for data protection as well as security. This is also set up with the EXT3 journalled format, also 8GB in size. I am always trying new thiungs with this distro!

    Hdb7 is a 10GB space used to archive spare copies of my two Linux's Boot files, /home partitions, and other things I might need to perform a System Restore. Sort of like a PC CPR kit...I update these files with those from Knoppix regularly, but not so with Debian Woody (OS #2) as I am not experimenting with that one.

    Hdb8 is the Debian (stable) root directory, and Hdb9 is it's /home's home. This is my conservatively-planned, rock-solid 'workhorse' Linux OS, so I install very little unnecessary code into it.

    Hdb10 is a 750MB swap file partition, that used to be a 1.5GB until I split it in half (with an XP setup disk, actually) in order to give both kernels their own swapfile space, the other being, o/c, hdb11.

    The other IDE slave HDD has a backup of XP on it, Ghosted over, with all drivers for SATA installed and probably non-bootable because of that. I haven't tried, either, to be honest.

    I considered using Grub as a bootloader, but I had heard that GAG was much more gentle to MBR than either Lilo or grab was, so I went with it. Simple installation, totally safe and uninstallable/reconfigurable; it works perfectly every time, and it's free.

    You must use Lilo on the individual boot partitions, since they have the boot/map files installed and the kernel needs to set some environment variables; then you just set up GAG to point to the active partitions. Simple as that. Boots anything from Win3.1 to Longhorn, and every flavor of Linux out there that can create an active boot partition.

    Trust me on this: you will want to plan for the future before you set the partitions! I suggest you query Google for more info on the various options you might like to use, and see how they might be implemented before you commit. You will be happier later if you get that out of the way now.

    One more thing: it never hurts to try a LiveCD distro before buying or DL'ing a full version, since I have seen some distros that needed many hours of tweaks in text mode to allow for the XServer to start (GUI). Or like SUSE 9.1 LiveCD...it plain would not boot up without hanging after 20 minutes or so (tried 2 diff iso files with perfect MD5SUMs, also wasted 3 CD's) on any of the six different machines I have tried it on so far, probably due to hardware issues.

    Knoppix is a favorite of long standing; having used 3.3, 3.4 and 3.6 I believe 3.4 to be the most stable release. After installing to the HDD it becomes a version closely resembling Debian.

    Slax is a good one, too. At only 188MB, this tiny OS fits on a mini-CD. It lacks functionality in several areas compared to Knoppix, but then Kpx, uncompressed, is around 2GB of data! Slax also can be loaded entirely to RAM given you have 256MB or more, and it is a very snappy live distro for that reason. It is based on Slackware, an excellent OS - IF you have the time and patience to set it up properly!

    PCLinuxOS is another decent one, but there were some problems with its networking on my rig. Could have just been the version...or the hardware. Who knows.

    As for which most closely resembles Solaris...did someone say Google?;)

    The Live versions I listed all use the KDE GUI, not Gnome; if you prefer that interface, well, that's what Gnoppix is for!

    Good luck, and have FUN!!

    FastVFR
     

  3. NetNinja

    NetNinja Always Faithful

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    FRY's is the BOMB!

    Bout time we got something cool here in Atlanta for us computer geeks!
     
  4. frefoo

    frefoo

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    If you are looking for a gui interface with Linux compared to Solaris, I would say out of the box there are really none that are the same.

    Linux distro's generally use KDE or GNOME for the gui. Solaris 8 used CDE if I am not mistaken. (Not sure what 9 used).

    That being said you could always install a CDE gui on any linux distro you would purchase/download.

    Personally I prefer KDE over GNOME but that is a matter of taste. I use the GNOME alsa mixer (sound icon in the Windows systray) on my KDE desktop.

    On the command line, you basic commands are the same, (ls grep cat etc).

    Linux does not have a devfsadm command (for example), just like Solaris does not have an ioscan command (HP-UX).

    There are commands in Linux that perform the same function as a Solaris system; however you will have to learn them as you go.
     
  5. Tennessee Slim

    Tennessee Slim Señor Member CLM

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    With a 160 GB HDD, I'd just cut off a few GB at the end of the disk for the Leenuks and swap partitions. The remaining Windblows partition will still be enormous.

    Functionally, I don't think any are notably closer than any other. As for user interface, starting at Solaris 9, it ships with GNOME, and KDE is now a Sun-supported option.

    If I can locate them, I have Solaris 7 & 8 for X86 media on CD. PM me if you're interested in the real thing.
     
  6. BikerGoddess

    BikerGoddess Got hairspray?

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    Sorry, should have been more specific - looking for file structure and commands that are similar. Don't care much for GUIs , I just use them to open a command line ;)

    FastVFR: Thanks so much for the info. I've tried Linux a few times, but haven't kept up with the latest. Before high speed Internet and a big enough hard drive, it just seemed like too much effort to set up.

    Laura
     
  7. NetNinja

    NetNinja Always Faithful

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    I should check on this but I thought Sun was going to release thier newest version for the x86 processor.
     
  8. HerrGlock

    HerrGlock Scouts Out CLM

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    Solaris 9 ships with GNOME and installs with the distribution disks.

    The biggest difference between Linux and Solaris used to be the /etc/rc.x directories. Redhat based Linux had /etc/init.d/rc.x and Solaris has /etc/rc.x But even Redhat came around and now they use the same type of init scripts.

    Almost all the commands are the same with either. The GNU version of the commands generally tends to have more switches and options than the Solaris version, but SUN has started shipping with GNU utilities.

    If you are running Solaris, use http://sunfreeware.com/ to find the things you have come to be used to in Linux that are not there in Solaris (lsof, top, things like that.) The Solaris tar command still drives me crazy because you cannot use z as a switch. So I download the GNU version from sunfreeware and forget Solaris even came with tar.

    I use Fedora (RedHat's name for the newer version of their GNU/freeware distro) and have no problem switching between the two.

    FreeBSD is about as close to Solaris as you're going to get without getting Solaris. Solaris is moving towards looking/acting/being like Linux rather than the other way around, though.

    Hope any of that helps.
    DanH
     
  9. Tennessee Slim

    Tennessee Slim Señor Member CLM

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    ...and I’ve been doing my part to help out. Except for the firewall, I switched all our production Sun servers from CDE to KDE (which drove my boss nuts which, IMO, was one of the most important benefits ;) ) and swapped virtually all the commonly-used command line tools for the GNU version.

    A woman after my own heart! ;3 *NIX by GUI is like painting by numbers. :soap:



    There must not be any BSD disciples in this group; they usually launch the neutron bombs when anyone mentions it and Leenuks in the same breath.
     
  10. Furant

    Furant Millennium Member

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    Fastvfr,

    That post of yours should be made into a sticky. I know I have re-read that thing probably 15 times in the past week as I'm trying to plan out my partitions.

    I currently have XP at home, but will be reformatting, repartitioning and reinstalling soon and, in the process, make it dual-bootable with Slackware. This is my first foray into the Linux world (I have modest past experience with Solaris, HP-UX and Irix - at least from a user perspective).

    I've been reading everything I can get my hands on about Slackware and dual-booting with XP and the setup seems pretty straightforward (although I really need to learn more about GAG). I'm just struggling trying to define the partitions. I think I may end up creating a bunch of partitions like you did. I have two disks, 160GB and 120GB IDE 7200RPM. A few questions:
    *Does WinXP recognize the Linux partitions (root and swap) as drive letters, or are they ignored?
    *What Filesystem is used for the Linux partitions? I have seen reference to EXT3, but I'm not really sure what it is. Does PartitionMagic help set that up? Are there options?
    *Due to my large harddrives, I'd like to make all of the Windows-specific filesystems NTFS, but I understand that Linux can't reliably commit changes back to an NTFS filesystem. Do you see that as a big deal? I may not be terribly concerned, because I plan to work on Linux primarily for education and programming and open source stuff (at least to start) - much different from what I and my wife use XP for.

    Thanks for indulging me.

    Joey
     
  11. fastvfr

    fastvfr Ancient Tech

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    Joey--

    First, thanks for the compliment!

    GAG is dirt-simple. You DL the app, run it and it creates a boot floppy. Reboot with the floppy inserted, and it promptly walks you through installing it into the MBR (no fear - it comes out cleanly and even archives the original MBR so no boot errors are possible), then you just search for the different Super Blocks (boot partitions) and give 'em a name and an icon.

    Simply set a timeout for the default OS, save all of the info to the HDD, and decide if you want to password protect it. Then reboot and go!

    No, XP does not normally recognize the Linux partitions.

    You might consider doing the XP install the way I do: ten GB for the C: drive, then a bunch of space on the D: partition for installing games and other apps, along with archived files, onto. That way if you need to reinstall XP you are just reformatting the small C: partition, and all of your data is untouched!!

    You are right, though....Linux does not have the best NTFS skills yet, and my shop PC is set up to use a 20GB FAT32 partition, both for archiving Linux documents and apps, and also for running data from client HDD's under Win9x onto. It has a 200GB HDD that looks like this:

    C: 9GB (FAT32) Windows 98SE.
    D: 9GB (NTFS) XP Pro.
    E: 130GB NTFS.
    F: 20GB FAT32.
    G: 5GB (EXT2 (becomes EXT3 after installation)Debian 2.6.8_i686 root.
    H: " " " " Home part (EXT3).
    I: Debian swap space.

    Then load GAG onto the MBR, and you effectively boot three different OSes on my new shop PC.

    Along with Helix for Windows Forensics, I truly have covered the full spectrum of software teching. So far.

    So to address your Windows formatting question, I'd say cut off a ten gig partition on the end of one drive and make it FAT32. Hey, if you don't need it, you can always right-click and reformat from XP, right?;f

    Good luck, and Have Fun!!