Installing Ubuntu on a laptop that has Windows 7 and Linux Mint

Pongo A. Pan pongo_pan at
Fri Mar 2 17:55:34 UTC 2012

On Fri, 2012-03-02 at 09:12 -0800, taodoe9.amabel at wrote:
> We currently have a laptop with Windows 7 and Linux Mint 11. We plan
> on installing Ubuntu 11.10 and Linux Mint 12. What is the best way of
> installing these two linux distros? I'm particularly uncertain of the
> best way to answer the partition questions that the installation will
> ask.
A good place to start learning about this stuff is here:

PartedMagic is a free utility which bundles lots of useful tools, but
most importantly the gnome partitioner.  You use it as a live CD or USB
to pre-partition your hard disk before installing new operating systems.
Highly recommended.

> I booted up the "Ubuntu 11 Iso" on my computer. The installer was
> aware that I had "other operating systems". It asked me whether I
> wanted to install Ubuntu 11.10 alongside them. I did, and then I was
> led to "Guided Installation". I saw this screen:
You don't want to do this unless you are willing to trash Mint 11.  You
need to use manual partitioning, preferably after you have used Parted
Magic or something similar to make empty partitions on your disk for
everything you want to install.  

> But that worried me. Where were was Linux Mint? And why was Ubuntu
> going to be installed in sda3? sda3 is Windows Recovery Environment
> loader (ntfs), according to the "Manual Partition" option. The screen
> does say that "4 smaller partitions are hidden", but that scared me.
> So I went and clicked onto Manual Partitioning.
> See
> sda1 ntfs 1.6GB Windows 7
> sda2 ntfs 209GB Windows 7
> sda5 ext4 93.9GB Linux Mint 11 Katya
> sda6 swap (linux-swap) 4.1GB
> sda3 ntfs 11.1GB Windows Recovery Environment
You have one hard disk which looks as if it is divided into 3 primary
partitions and one extended partition with two logical partitions in it.

> Some questions:
> 1. Why is Windows 7 split into sda1 and sda2?
Sda1 is most likely the recovery image for Win7.

> 2. Do I need sda6 linux-swap?
Only if you want linux to work well.  You can share swap partitions
among many distros, so you only need one of these.

> 3. What's the proper way to make room for Ubuntu? What must I click on
> the screen?
> Also, I'd like the 2 distros to share the same "home" folder. By this,
> I mean that I want both of them to point to the same place for where I
> save my stuff (same Downloads folder, same Photos folder, same
> "Recent" stuff, etc)
This can be very problematic.  If you do this you will have competing
and conflicting configuration files (often in the form of hidden
directories in your home).  A better (but somewhat more complicated) way
to do this is to have a small separate home for each distro and a
common /data partition with things like Documents and Pictures linked
with simlinks.  You need to learn more about the basics of partitioning
before you try any of this.  Please visit the PartedMagic forums as
indicated above.  

In the first instance I'd shrink the Win7 sda2 down to 50 GB or so and
expand the extended partition to take up the new space.  Then I'd make
two 20 GB or so partitions for the linux systems and use the rest for
the two homes.  The swap partition seems about right and can be shared.
Then install the distros.  Win7 may have to be booted in recovery mode
the first time after you shrink it.  GRUB will handle the booting.

Please back up everything dear to you in multiple places before you do
any of this.  It usually works but the one time it will fail is when you
don't have proper (and tested) backups.

Do you have an old computer you can practice and learn on?  That would
be the best thing.

pongo pan
Fri, 02 Mar 2012 09:53:04 -0800
Epicurus up 21:08, 1 user, load average: 0.11, 0.06, 0.05
Linux 3.2.0-17-generic
Ubuntu precise (development branch), gnome-session 3.2.1, unity 5.4.0

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