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Full Version: Hard Disk Partitioning, Cfdisk & Multi-boot
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Hullo all,

I have on hand a 60 GB HDD. The first 18 GB is occupied by win2k pro. I've been thinking of installing Debian GNU/Linux on the next 20 GB of HDD space. Some folks have told me that I should create a few partitions for Linux i.e. just in case anything untowards happen e.g. OS crash. I'm toying with the idea of setting aside 100 MB for boot (wonder if this is sufficient) and a Linux swap partition of 1000 MB. However, I'm not sure what to do with regards to the other directories e.g. home/ (only one other user on this box), /usr, /var and others? What would a good partition layout scheme be like given the above? Any suggestions?

2.) I will be using cfdisk to partition the HDD i.e. the free space available for Linux But I'm curious as to what Primary and Logical partitions are. What are they? How would choosing to install Linux or for that matter FreeBSD in either affect my Linux/FreeBSD installation and win2k?

I'm also planning to install FreeBSD 5.1 on this same HDD for which I have allocated 15 GB of space for it. I plan to only install FreeBSD only after I have installed Debian. Does anyone forsee problems relating to partitioning, booting into any of the 3 OSes i.e. Win2K, Debian & FreeBSD? Would and could FreeBSD erase both my windoze and Debian partitions?

In the beginning ... The first hard drives for PCs could only have 4 partitions. As hard drive capacities starting growing there was a need for more then 4 partitions. As you might of guessed these partitions are called primary. In order to create additional partitions an extended partition type was born. In a nutshell an extended partition is a primary partition that is a container and in that container are logical partitions. An IDE drive can have 64 partitions.

Primary partitions ID 1-4
logical partitions ID >5

Swap size depends on how much RAM and the applications you intend on running. For a typical use 512mb is sufficient.

To make things simple
/dev/hda1 W2K
/dev/hda2 extended (The size should be the rest of the disk for logical partitions)
/dev/hda5 swap 512mb
/dev/hda6 /boot 100mb (is more then sufficient)
/dev/hda7 / (root)
/dev/hda8 ... next OS

You can have seperate partitions for /home, /var, /usr but as a beginner I would start out with just /boot and /. You can share the same swap partitions between the OS's

Its been ages since I've played with BSD so I do not know what the installer looks like anymore but as a general statement there is a potiential of wiping out existing OS's with the wrong press of the enter key or click of the mouse.
I usually make a seperate boot partition of 100mb, I normally use a swap of 1024 mb on a big drive.

For workstations I normally create a single partition for everything else. Almost everytime I've seen someone split out /usr and /var to other partitions, they run out of room on one of the partitions...and unless you have to do it (you have 4 small drives and you have to put /usr on one and /home on the other, etc.) then I would stay away from that.

On heavily loaded servers without RAID, I might purposely use a seperate drive for Systems files, log files and database files ... and mount /var on one partition, /data on another partiton and the system files (/usr, /etc, /tmp, etc.) on another partiton ... but probably a faster solution would be to do software raid of 3 or more drives and put everything on the same partition....

A partition of enough size to hold things in an emergency might be good for a production system .. 1gb should hold any tar-gzip'ed files you could possibly need to save. But if you have a CDRW or DVDRW that you can use (and a seperate boot CDROM to boot from) then you can use the SystemRescueCD and the command cdrecord to move any important files to the DVDRW or CDRW device.
I installed FreeBSD 5.2 (along with BeOS and 9 Linux Distros) on my 11 boot OS test system. The OS's on the system are:

Debian SID
SUSE 9.0 Professional
Slackware 9.1
Mandrake 9.2
Mandrake 10 (Beta2)
Gentoo 1.4
Fedora Core 1
RedHat 9
FreeBSD 5.2
BeOS Max v3
WhiteBox Enterprise Linux 3
Some things about the Debian install.....

Use grub instead of lilo as your boot loader for Debian ... and I like the beta Sarge installer for Debian better than the standard woody installation ISO (if you plan to use either sarge or sid instead of woody as your debain install) ... You might try the UserLinux install ... after getting a base Sarge system (no dselect or tasksel packages after the base install and just follow the instructions on the above link to get a SID install of UserLinux ... or these instructions (after you add the userlinux sources to /etc/apt/sources.list) to get a sarge based install of UserLinux)...I did the Sarge based install of UserLinux and I have switched to using it for my everyday workstation.
Some things I found out about FreeBSD ...

1. FreeBSD must be installed in a Primary partition (partition 1, 2, or 3 ... since partition 4 will be the extended partition and any follow on partitions will be 5 and higher and installed inside of partition 4).

2. FreeBSD uses a filesystem that Grub can't read ... so you will have to use chainloader to load FreeBSD. Here is the section for my FreeBSD entry in grub:
title FreeBSD 5.2
       rootnoverify (hd1,2)
       chainloader +1

{My FreeBSD is on hdb3 ... so in grub that is (hd1,2)}.
3. FreeBSD will install everything it needs (swap, boot, root, etc.) inside it's own partition.
4. My FreeBSD install was pretty much a full install (just to play with) and it is 2.2gb ... I created an 8 gb partition, but you could probably get by with 4-6gb.

So with the FreeBSD partition in mind, I would setup:

hda1 - (already installed, windows)
hda2 - boot (512mb or 1024mb)
hda3 - FreeBSD (4-8 gb {or 15 gb, if you want})
hda4 - extended partiton (end of hda3 to the end of the disk)
hda5 - Debain / partition (20gb)
I would boot using SystemRescueCD and use QTparted to create the partitons (use the command run_qtparted from the command prompt). (screenshots) ... or use fdisk from the SystemRescueCD if you like fdisk better. I don't like cfdisk, but that is a personal preference.

If you setup the partitons as above, when you install debain just pick hda2 as your boot and hda5 as your / partitions... have debian upgrade the MBR ... then, after the install, boot to debian and add these lines to /boot/grub/menu.lst

title Windows 2000
      rootnoverify (hd0,0)
      chainloader +1

title FreeBSD 5.2
      rootnoverify (hd0,2)
      chainloader +1

When you install FreeBSD, pick hda3 (or the first partition after the small boot partition) to install into. Do install the FreeBSD bootloader, but do not let FreeBSD update MBR ... only have it update it's root partition.
It certianly is possible to erase your Windows partition with the debain install ... or to erase the debain or windows partitions with the FreeBSD install ... but if you use QTparted to create the partitons beforehand, and just select partitions to install into on the various installers, that risk would be greatly minimized....
Thank you michaelk for your suggestions. And Hughesjr, that was very elaborate and detailed . Many many thanks. Did you say you have 11 OSes isntalled, gee, I think I better do something fast...! biggrin.gif
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