Setting up Dual Boot...

By F1N3ST ยท 10 replies
Sep 28, 2006
  1. I have 2 Internal hard drives, and i would like to dual boot linux and windows. I have used linux before, but only on a live CD. I would like to have windows on 1 hard drive (F:/), and windows on C:/. Can someone also recommend a linux build for a medium low experienced user as myself. Thanks.
  2. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Just install Linux. Choose the non-windows drive as the installation target, install the bootloader on the first hard drive (hda). It should Just Work.

    We have many threads here with people asking which distro is the "best". Which LiveCD did you use? If it has a corresponding true distro, then you may want to use that.
  3. Patosan

    Patosan TS Enthusiast Posts: 35

    disk partition preparation

    I'll just jump in here too with my version of the same question.

    I'm getting a new pc made up, only one 300G HDD, and want to advise the shop how best to partition the HDD for multi-boot. Previously I read that simply having some unused disk space was sufficient, then I thought I heard someone create partitions in readiness for linux and others from the very initial install. Lastly this week I read somewhere that it is best to instal linux prior to windows. I'm getting a tad lost, can someone set me straight ?
  4. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    All the possibilities work just as well. There is less hassle with bootloaders when you install Linux after Windows and use GRUB as the primary.

    If you are going to install a modern user friendly distro, then just don't tell the shop anything - the Linux installer will resize the Windows partition and there is no chance of some clueless "technician" making a mess.

    A smaller Windows partition and empty space is the most proper solution IMO, but you have to get the message through to the people installing Windows..
  5. YosefM

    YosefM TS Rookie Posts: 41

    FIN3ST & Patosan,
    For dual-boot you will be installing a boot loader, since NTFS, and windows in general, doesn't like to play well with others, I use this scheme for my dual boot systems.
    Drive 1 - Primary drive, contains the active partition
    partition 1 - Primary Partition - ntfs, whatever size, ending on proper boundary
    partition 2 - Primary Partition, Active - reiser or ext3 - something close to 1G - ending on proper boundary, set to active, name it /boot
    partition 3 - Extended partition - the rest of the disk - put logical drives in here for whatever purpose. If you have 1 HDD, make /swap & / logical drives here
    Drive 2 - no active partition
    partition 1 - Primary partition - ntfs, end on proper boundary
    partition 2 - Extended partition - balance of drive - /swap & / should live here - add /home, /usr, /svr if you need/want

    Guidelines - /swap should be 2x physical ram - /boot should be large enough for 2 kernels plus a little (1G should be enough w/o wasting space). Put windows page files on all windows partitions for better performance.

    The reason I put an ntfs partition on drive 2 is to allow easy removal of the linux partitions if needed & for performance reasons - otherwise windows may not see the drive & may force all your drives into "compatibility" mode. Same reason I dont put the linux boot partition on the 2nd drive. These are mainly lessons learned in the IDE world, but think they're still valid concerns for sata.

    Discussing Linux distros is pretty much like talking politics & religion - best done only among tolerant friends :hotbounce I personally like SuSE - but RedHat/Fedora is just as good among general mainstream distros. For desktop use, try SLED (SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop - KDE), Ubuntu (for Gnome) or KUbuntu (for KDE) - I'm sure RH has a similar product for Gnome. I also hear good things about Mandriva. There are a huge variety of distros, many of which are meant for specific uses.

    The mainstream & desktop varieties have gotten very good at automatic setup, but to use the partitioning scheme I outlined you will have to use expert mode for partitioning and for the bootloader configuration. This scheme assumes putting the bootloader in MBR - I recommend GRUB, but LILO is good too.
  6. F1N3ST

    F1N3ST TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 596

    I made my secondary drive FAT32 for linux :p. So i just install linux on my second drive, and how do i install this bootloader or w/e that will let me chose which OS I want to boot? And the live DVD I used was Knoppix, are there any installers that come with programs too for conveinience?
  7. YosefM

    YosefM TS Rookie Posts: 41

    Whatever distro you're comfortable with is good. The live CD/DVD normally has the installer as an option on the menu it boots to. Bootloader setup is part of the install. You'll be offered a partitioning setup during install, along with choice of filesystems. Choice of software to install is also normal.

    Reiser & ext3 filesystems are "journaling" file systems, as is ntfs. Journaling file systems recover better from unintended shutdowns (like power outages) and system lockups. Linux keeps its file system in memory for better performance, synchronizing on a schedule, so if power drops during the synchronization, older unix filesystems could be trashed. Journaling keeps the last few transactions in a queue in case of trouble.
  8. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    FYI, you cannot install Linux on a FAT32 partition - it is too primitive to support file security.

    Linux can read files from your Windows partition out of the box (unless you install Fedora). There is this thing called captive-NTFS that gives you read-write access in Linux.

    There are ext2/ext3 drivers for Windows that give you read-write access to the former and read-only access to the latter.
  9. F1N3ST

    F1N3ST TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 596

    So what can i format it to that is linux and windows friendly, as i might view files on windows from my linux partion.
  10. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Use ext2 or ext3. You have to install a special driver in Windows to see the Linux partition. I like this one:

    You can write to ext3 partitions with this driver, but every time you boot Linux, it does a filesystem check IIRC. With ext2, it works seamlessly.

    If you want to write to your NTFS Windows partition from Linux, then you have to install Captive-NTFS.
  11. Patosan

    Patosan TS Enthusiast Posts: 35

    There isn't a problem with windows not seeing the ext2 partitions though ... is there ?

    As stated before I'm getting my new pc soon, this week I hope, I will set it up for multi-boot and install winXP before Linux. After checking the "Radified" site I feel it's best to decide on and partition from the beginning. They said before installing OS, I think ... but is that right, actually BEFORE any os ?

    FDISK & Partition Magic were mentioned as best, the former being the favorite. Checking about Partition Magic I found that as system requirements you need windows installed ... so I'm confused again. Then one site said that FDISK only works with small disks and not for ext2 or ext3 ... what is the truth ? Where do I get FDISK ?

    Regarding Linux, which is best ext2 or ext3 ?
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