Various pre-install queries from potential user

John dingo at
Thu Sep 30 04:35:48 UTC 2004

David Marsh wrote:
> Hello World ;-)
> I'm considering installing Ubuntu on my computer to supplement or
> replace my existing distro, but before I (try to) do so, I have a few
> queries:
> How flexible is Ubuntu regarding custom partitioning?
> It just so happens that, as it's not possible to buy anything other
> than a ridiculously large hard disk these days(!), I have 'shadow' 
> partitions already prepared on my (ridiculously large) hard disk for 
> any alternative distro that I might happen to install..
> I took the following arbitrary decisions regarding sizes, with an eye to
> stability/reducing disk problems:
> /      = 500 MB (intended for *only* files that *need* to be in / )
> <swap> = 2*RAM
> /usr   = large
> /var   = large
> /tmp   = 1 GB
> /opt   = large
> /home  = very large ;-)
> Will Ubuntu happily install itself in these partitions?
> It seems increasingly common these days for some distros to want to
> stuff the whole OS into / (which I regard as a Bad Thing), and often
> difficult to convince them to do otherwise.. 

Making lots a partitions like that ensures there's lotsa nothing between 
useful somethings and so increases seek distances, impairs performance.

I used to recomment no /boot, but then got caught on a system _with_ LBA 
and which I expected to work without it. So now I have a smallish /boot 

I prefer

and use a swap file.

> What bootloader does Ubuntu use, lilo or grub?

grub unless you're an expert and choose otherwise.

> Is there anything I should be aware of when attempting to install Ubuntu
> onto a hard disk with a distro already installed? Can I have Ubuntu and
> another distro (currently SuSE) coexist happily?

You can.

I recommend having grub in the boot record of your SuSE /boot partition; 
I suspect U is going to overwrite the one in the MBR unless you're expert.

You can easily chain grubs and lilos. I don't know a good way of making 
one of either boot two different Linux systems with the flexibility one 
would like.

> My current setup has Linux on my second HD (with the necessary spare
> partitions already setup), with That Other OS and the bootloader on the 
> first HD. 
> I'm just scared the two(?) bootloaders will disagree and mash each
> other. :-(

Use ext3. I think there are probs with xfs and reiserfs if you want grub 
in a partition boot record.

I've not tried installing U (Or Debian) on the second drive.

> And finally (possibly daft question), will it be possible to apt-get
> upgrade-in-place like traditional Debian, or will it be necessary to
> reboot/upgrade from CD at each major release?

Of course.

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