How to partition 2 Hd for 2 Os
June 5, 2009 1:29 AM   Subscribe

I am getting a new computer, and the infinite possibilities on how to partition two hard drives to put two operating systems is keeping me up at night.

Hello everybody. This is not a "how to" question, but just a "how would you recommend" one.

I currently have all my data in a 320 Gb FAT32 hard disk. This drive contains all music, videos etc that are accessible from my two operating systems (XP and ubuntu 9.04) who live on the 80Gb hard disk.

I am getting a new system (without OS) and I put a 1Tb hd there. I want to install the 320GB in there as well.

My initial thought would have been to install the two OS (win7 rc and ubuntu 9.04) on two partitions of the 320 Gb and use the 1TB for the data, but I have been told I might miss out on performance, as the new SATA drive should be much faster than my old IDE.

So I was planning on booting the first time with ubuntu live cd and transfering all the data from the 320 Gb to the 1Tb (and format it NTFS or FAT32), then splitting the 320Gb into two partitions, one with W7RC and one with Ubuntu - using all the 1TB for data.

Is this the best way? How else would you partition the Hdds and split the OSs ? Do I need to install W7 in the first physical HD? and which one should it be?

Any suggestion appreciated!

PS: I would just use Ubuntu if I could, but so far no luck with iTunes (which i need for the iPhone), I will try virtualbox but my current system is not powerful enough to do it. And I got a 780g chipset (ATI radeon) for the new one which i heard is supported so-so by Linux. If Win7 is good i might abandon Ubuntu in the future.
posted by madeinitaly to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The performance boost for running software is probably going to be negligible (I'm open to correction, but I think this is the case), because software isn't all that huge. Your bigger hit is going to be data. So you definitely want videos and music and so forth on the 1TB drive. That said, Windows is not terribly intelligent about this, so if you play (say) video games on Windows a lot, you may wish to make sure you put those on the 1TB drive.

Also: if you're running a server, and performance is an issue (which, if you're asking this question, it likely isn't), put /var on the newer drive.

My recommendations: you mention that your system isn't powerful enough for virtualbox. This suggests that your bottleneck is not going to be the hard drive, but the CPU and RAM. Even on the newer system, I'd guess the bottleneck of EIDE vs SATA will not be a big deal compared with other factors. Premature optimization is the root of all evil and all that jazz. So install your operating systems on the 320 (I'd go with a larger partition for Windows, simply because it's Less Intelligent about letting you put data on a separate partition sometimes - see comments above about video games for an example. Maybe 220-100?), and format the 1TB in FAT32 (you likely won't run into filesize limits, and NTFS is less robust on Linux than FAT32).

One last thought: VMWare runs Windows pretty decently, and I know a number of people who use it solely for iTunes. It's probably a bit pricey, though - my university provides it for free, so I'm not sure. That said, if virtualbox doesn't work, it might be worth looking into; peripheral support is the common iffy factor on virtual machines, and VMWare is likely to be a bit more polished than virtualbox in that regard. I'm a FOSS guy, so it pains me to say that, but ... c'est vrai.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 2:02 AM on June 5, 2009

While the theoretical max transfer rate of SATA v. EIDE makes SATA look faster -- the result may not be as good as you hope. The 320GB drive may keep pace with the 1TB drive depending on what drives you chose.

Anyways --

I would put Windows on the 1TB drive, and Linux on the 320GB drive for sanitys sake.
posted by SirStan at 7:00 AM on June 5, 2009

Linux is fine with NTFS these days.

I think I'd put everything on 3 partitions on the 1TB drive, and use the 320 as backup

My only Windows use is through VirtualBox. It works well for the things I do, but if I were a regular Windows user or a gamer the sluggishness of the interface due to virtualized hard drive and minimal hardware graphics support would annoy me. Although I think you can tell VirtualBox to use a physical disk partition for the guest OS, but that's varsity level kung-fu. I haven't tried passing through a USB device, can't comment on that.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:26 AM on June 5, 2009

Also, if you go the virtualization route, load up with RAM... it's cheap.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:29 AM on June 5, 2009

Do what SirStan says, but before you reformat your 320GB drive, set Windows up on the 1TB formatted with a single NTFS partition.

Only when Windows is set up and booting properly should you fit the 320GB drive to the machine. Make sure when you do this that your BIOS still treats the 1TB drive as the primary boot drive, or Windows will have a tanty.

Then copy all your existing media from the 320GB to the 1TB. Then set up the 320GB for Ubuntu with three partitions: 16GB ext3 for root, 4GB for swap, 300GB ext4 for /home, and tell the installer to mount the single NTFS partition on the 1TB drive as /home/windows.

Play with VirtualBox running on Ubuntu to virtualize Windows. It performs very nearly as well as possible, and the GUI is nice and easy.

Don't bother with FAT32. There is nothing you can do with FAT32 on a shared Ubuntu/Windows box that you can't do equally well with NTFS (contra odinsdream, the ntfs-3g stuff that ships with Ubuntu is more than reliable enough for production use) and you won't need to put up with FAT32's file size limits.
posted by flabdablet at 7:39 AM on June 5, 2009

Here's my partition table:
/dev/sda1   *           1        5099    40957686    7  HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda2            5100        9602    36170347+  83  Linux
/dev/sda3            9603        9733     1052257+  82  Linux swap / Solaris
The first partition is NTFS for Windows. The second is ext3 for Ubuntu, and the third is a swap partition. This disk has been dual booting Windows / Ubuntu since the very first Ubuntu release, when I built the computer. Note that swap should be at least as big as RAM. People say to go bigger, but I don't bother; RAM is so cheap that swapping is mainly for hibernation in my view.

In my experience, Windows is a bit picky about the bootloader and so you probably want to partition the drive, then install windows, then install Ubuntu. Ubuntu should detect Windows, overwrite the boot sector and leave an entry in grub to chainload to the windows secondary bootloader. I haven't tested this with Windows7, so it may not actually recognize win7 as a windows OS.

A few other tips:
* You don't need to install Windows to the first physical disk, but you do need a bit of grub expertise to make it work.
* Ubuntu is fine with NTFS, so that's not a problem unless windows 7 introduced something stupid ntfs-3g doesn't understand.
* SATA is theoretically faster than IDE, but cheap SATA drives aren't any faster than IDE at the device level.
* Disk performance only matters for booting and loading, databases, or working with super large datasets (raw video editing, genomics, etc). Just as a 12x DVD drive doesn't play a CD music track any faster than 1:1, your mp3/mp4/whatever-else-you're using only demands it's bitrate during playback.
* Your data collection will likely grow faster than your OS's. Allocate space accordingly.
posted by pwnguin at 8:19 AM on June 5, 2009

I've given up partitions for the world of virtualization long ago. VirtualBox is 80 degrees of awesomeness. Have you t least tried it on your underpowered box? How about just throwing some more ram in? If all you need it for is iTunes and the iPhone (I hear you there, thats the only reason I keep windows around as well) then even with only a gig of ram you could give windows half of it, boot up, sync the iphone and get out. Not speedy, but it can't be any slower than shutting down and rebooting to switch OSes natively. With a Windows VM thats not really used an an operating systems, it has little chance of getting all junked up and slow, so boot time shouldn't be too horrible...
posted by cgg at 9:13 AM on June 5, 2009

Response by poster: Ok thanks everybody for the inputs. I cannot even think of vitualisation with my current system it's a pentium 4 of 7 years ago with 512 mb ram. The new one is a 4gb amd x2 with 780g chipset. I was thinking of windows basically cause of iPhone, and because I read ubuntu doesn't like the ati chip so much.

If virtualbox can make proper use of my iPhone I might consider giving up win altogether.

I would install Linux and just put win at a later stage but I think it's easier to install win first and ubuntu afterwards. That's why my indecision, if I want also win I need to install it first and wipe it out eventually.

Second, if I virtualbox win - can I virtualize the release candidate of w7? From the ISO file? And where my windows c:\ would phisically be? Where will programs installed?

Thank you all for your input
posted by madeinitaly at 10:38 AM on June 5, 2009

The commercial version of VirtualBox 2.2 features USB device passthrough. I haven't played with this yet, but so I think you should be able to get your iPhone working OK with it. The open-source version doesn't have that feature. There's a personal-use/evaluation licence for the commercial version that lets ordinary people use it at no cost.

To install it, paste the following commands into a terminal:

echo deb jaunty non-free >/tmp/virtualbox.list
sudo cp /tmp/virtualbox.list /etc/apt/sources.list.d
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install build-essential dkms virtualbox-2.2
sudo adduser $USER vboxusers

and then log off and on again.

Here's somebody who apparently has Windows 7 working as a VirtualBox guest. After following those instructions, your Windows C: drive would be contained inside a virtual hard disk image file inside your Ubuntu home folder (probably at ~/.VirtualBox/HardDisks/something.vdi if you've gone with defaults).

You can give the virtual machine access to folders (or even the filesystem root) on your Ubuntu installation using VirtualBox's Shared Folders feature. It's pretty straightforward - post back here if you get lost.
posted by flabdablet at 6:27 PM on June 5, 2009

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