Novice query: Installation Help

Liam Proven lproven at
Wed Oct 2 20:11:22 UTC 2013

Boy, these messages are getting long! :¬)

[Deep breath] OK...

On 2 October 2013 19:52, AP <worldwithoutfences at> wrote:
> Well as a novice I am getting the idea. It means in the above example, we
> have basically two primary partitions - 1. Linux root and 2. Extended (I
> know this might be repetitive but my concepts could be revised!).

That is exactly right.

> Well, here /dev/sda3 and /dev/sda4 are reserved for the rest two primary
> partitions not created (in the above examples).


> From here starts the real doubt session (as a new user). When in the above
> example, you have another linux of which the indication is 7 (Linux root
> #2). Now if this space (in which this Linux root #2) has been created, came
> from using GParted?

Yes. In the example, I assume you start with 3 partitions - #1, #5 &
#6 - and later come back and add #7 for a 2nd distribution. You make
space for #7 by shrinking #5 with GParted.

> Further if Linux root #2, were suppose Knoppix
> (example), how you told the Knoppix installed to only get room inside the
> Extended of Ubuntu, is there option available in that installation (asked
> out of curiosity).

Yes, certainly.

N.B. you can give partitions names, which Gparted calls "labels" and
Windows calls "volume labels". This is a smart thing to do. It makes
no technical difference but it helps you to keep track.

E.g. I called mine something like this:

1 "Windows 7 32GB"
2 "primary 2 spare 16GB"
3 "primary 3 spare 16GB"
5 "Linux 1 root 16GB"
6 "Linux 2 root 16GB"
7 "Linux home 16GB"
8 "Windows data 200GB"
9 "Windows swap 16GB"
10 "Linux swap 16GB"

This is how I would add a 2nd distro to a 3-partition system (/, home + swap)

* Boot from a LiveCD
* Use Gparted to shrink partition #5 (/home)
* Still in Gparted, make a new partition (#7) in the space between #5 & #6.

* Reboot from the hard disk. Check it all still works fine. Also check
that the partition numbers are as you expect - that #5 is home, #6 is
swap, #7 is empty, etc.

* Reboot from the new distro you want to install. (e.g. Mint or
Knoppix or something). Again, check all the partitions are numbered as
you would expect.

* Do a _custom_ install. Pick #7 (the new partition) as / and tell it
to format it. Pick #5 as home and tell it _not_ to format. It will
detect swap itself.

* Continue to install.

>  Further when, Linux root #2 (means /dev/sda7) has been
> created, its own home is the same as the Ubuntu's home (which has Linux root
> #1) and Linux swap is common for both - Ubuntu (/dev/sda1) as well as
> Knoppix (in our example). Is it like this or small change in understanding
> is required?

You have it all exactly right.

> This might be due the reason that olden days were not fed as much technology
> as we are fed today, in fact that might have not been discovered or
> whatever....

Yes, that is correct. Also, Linux was rare in those days. If you
dual-booted a PC then, it meant Windows 95 and NT 4 or something like
that. It's easier if everything is from one vendor.

> In this particular example (just above), you have created/used all the
> primary partitions and while booting you would have to choose from all these
> options?

Yes. I "reserved" 2 primaries at the beginning, even though I did not
use them for months. It is easier than adding them later. I also try
to plan in advance so that I can keep them all in order. I learned
this stuff in the 1990s, when it was much harder. The first time I
created out-of-order partitions, I could not understand why Windows NT
4 blue-screened on me at boot, every single time. It was only when,
during troubleshooting, I remove the extra (out-of-order) logical
drive, and Windows started working again, that I worked it out. There
was nobody to tell me about this stuff!

As for multi-booting >2 OSes - yes, booting gets tricky. Very tricky.
I would avoid it completely until you are confident!

There are ways around this.

E.g. In my PC now, I have 2 hard disks. Disk 1 has Mac OS X on it,
Disk 2 has Windows 8.

OS X does not multi-boot with anything else. :¬)

Windows 8 only understands other copies of Windows. It cannot
understand OS X because of course OS X is not meant to run on ordinary

So I set up the Mac's drive as the boot drive in the BIOS when I installed OS X.

Then, later, when I installed Windows 8, I set the Windows drive to be
the boot drive. This means OS X can't be booted. When I want to use OS
X, I set its drive as the boot drive; when I want to use Windows, I
set *its* drive as the boot drive.

Neither OS "knows" about the other's boot loader. One disk has the OS
X bootloader, one disk has the Windows bootloader, and they don't know
about each other.

This means no messing around with dual-booting at all.

I did try getting both to co-exist on a single drive. I could not make
it work. I do not recommend trying this. :¬)

(Also, later, I added a copy of Linux, which has bits on both drives.
Now, it's complicated. I won't try to explain how it works!)

>  I guess one might need to change the settings too for getting all
> the options from which linux to boot from --  and whether that linux is
> inside the Extended partition or itself a separate primary partition...?

Well, yes. But, seriously, I do not recommend such a complex setup. It
is difficult. I must admit, I never got FreeBSD to boot correctly. :¬(

> But
> installing so many linuxes is not confusing...?

Yes. :¬)

> How you do that all? Because
> each installer has all those options so that we can decide its residence in
> the hard disk?

Yes, that's right.

Most OSes in the wider world (e.g. Sun & IBM workstations, Apple Macs
etc.) all have their own partitioning systems. Few use standards that
other systems can recognise. If they have PC versions, then they need
a primary partition. *Inside that* they make their own special
partitioning system that nothing else can understand. This is true of
all 4 BSDs, Solaris and most of the others.

This is changing these days, slowly. Partly because disks over 2TB in
size pose special problems and require special partitioning systems.
One of these, called GUID, is at least understood by several
manufacturers and is understood by many OSes. But you don't need to
worry about that unless you have drives of 2TB or over.

But then again, many of the older OSes do not understand drives that big anyway!

Anyway. If you have 3, 4 or more OSes on a single PC, all on a single
drive, then it becomes worthwhile to use a separate "boot manager" so
that no single OS controls booting. Again, this is complex and not
important right now. Don't worry about it.

> I know I have asked many questions, but these questions just came in mind
> --- out of curiosity only! It is great to know that Linux provides so much
> of the options!!

It is the best OS in the world when it comes to coping with complex
disk layouts, booting multiple OSes on one machine and so on. Nothing
else comes close.

> That's great! I believe that hand outs experiments in any technology gives
> maximum knowledge rather than reading theoretically and that's what really
> the creativity is!

:¬) I agree.

> I know I would get less (in fact very less) time to have hands on linux, but
> for whatever time, I would have, it would all be fun -- great fun!!

I hope that you enjoy it!

Liam Proven • Profile:
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