Various pre-install queries from potential user

Martin Maney ubuntu at
Thu Sep 30 14:30:07 UTC 2004

On Thu, Sep 30, 2004 at 12:35:48PM +0800, John wrote:
> Making lots a partitions like that ensures there's lotsa nothing between 
> useful somethings and so increases seek distances, impairs performance.

Are you sure?  It may depend on the filesystem, but if I remember
correctly one of the things that ext2 has long done to try to avoid
fragmentation is to intentionally disperse files across the multiple
groups of blocks it divides the partition into internally.  It seems
likely that this will be true of any filesystem that can avoid
fragmentaiton without a substantial houskeeping effort (defrag as you
go or in occasional bursts).

> grub unless you're an expert and choose otherwise.

I ran the install in expert mode once when I was looking for a way to
get the 2nd stage pointed at a proxy server (http_proxy=... as a boot
option does the trick), and I don't recall ever seeing any option. 
OTOH, grub is my preferred boot loader, so I might have ignored a
choice I didn't want.  :-/

> 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.

I think there must be a choice presented even in non-expert installs,
because I'm 99% sure I didn't use expert when I installed on the
Inspiron, and I would remeber the carnage very clearly if it had
overwritten the MBR on that machine.

> 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.

Pick one that will be the master (possibly a really minimal install,
otherwise make it one that you plan to keep, because if it gets trashed
you'll need that grub boot floppy or CD - you *do* have a grub booter,
don't you? <wink>).  Have it's grub in the MBR, and add chaining
entries for the other partitions that you want to boot to, something
like this:

root = /dev/hda3
chainloader +1

(which is actually the command-mode spellings - I seem to remeber that
better than the menu.lst details, probably because the latter are setup
and forget, while I use the command mode every now and then.)

Then install the other Linux systems with grub in their partitions. 
This works fine on primary or secondary IME.  You do need a little
manual work to setup the master menu for the partitions, and, as usual,
if you don't install Windows first it will probably hose the MBR loader
when it gets its hands on it.  ;-(

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

So use ext2/3 on /boot and whatever you like for the rest.  For what
was originally a hack to work around stupid limitations of PC BIOSes,
/boot sure is useful.  :-)

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