Partitions, windows’ and linux, Oh My!
December 18, 2006 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I’ve got a new 400gb drive heading my way, plus a free copy of Vista. What is the best way to rebuild my system, with XP, Vista sharing files etc. with maybe a little Ubuntu thrown in? There’s

So basically I’m thinking I want a partition for each of the OS’s and one for my files. That way I can backup my OS installs and my files easily and independently.

Oh, and I want my files to be OS agnostic. That is, I’d like to have ONE set of files, that I would use in XP and Vista, and maybe, but not as importantly Ubuntu as well. That’s not asking for moon, right?

Ok, maybe it is, and I have no idea. What would you do in this situation?

Would you go with a 3 (or 4, with linux) partition setup?

If so how would you format the partition for my files? Apparently Vista comes with a new version of NTFS, not remarkable, but apparently you need to use it if you want to use a fancy new auto-backup feature (“Shadow Folders”). I’m guessing this won’t be easy to access with Linux, or maybe even XP for that matter. But shadow folders sound pretty good (if they work as billed).

Would you bother getting fancy with the Vista install to salvage currently installed programs (~100 that I actually use)? (ie. making a copy of my current disk image, and then upgrading that to Vista) Would that bring along the crud that is slowing my current XP install?

I have yet to decide whether I’m going to install XP fresh, or keep the current install. If it makes a difference for setting the dual/triple boot system up I would fresh install.

I’ve never used a dual boot system before, so I’m not familiar with much of what I’m talking about.
posted by nazca to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
you can use either fat32 or ext3 for the shared partition
(here is the link for enabling ext3 support in windows)
ext3 is a better option, but I'm not sure how good the drivers for windows are (I have not personally tested the above linked project)
I would recommend a clean install, just so that accumulated crap doesn't transfer over.
Shadow folders are awsome if you need to revert to a previously saved copy. It has saved me at work a couple of times (file server is win2k3). I don't know if Linux has any support at all for this version of NTFS.
posted by defcom1 at 7:03 PM on December 18, 2006

With a 400 GB drive, I'd probably do 30 gigs each for Ubuntu and Windows, then all the rest as one or more data partitions. (oh, and don't forget the swap partition, which Ubuntu will prompt you to make).

I typically use FAT32 partitions for data. I've had good luck playing around with the ext2fsd plugin mentioned above, but haven't used it extensively enough to recommend it for everyday use. Troll around on the internet and see what you can find.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:25 PM on December 18, 2006

Further to what defcom1 says, I've used that driver with no problems in an XP/Ubuntu dual-boot setup. It's what I'd use in your position, as I often have very large files which FAT32 would choke on (ie >4Gb).
posted by pompomtom at 9:37 PM on December 18, 2006

Alternatively, Ubuntu (with a little tweaking) supports NTFS partitions, though probably not this new Vista flavor. It isn't very stable yet, though. Read more here.
posted by Spike at 10:13 PM on December 18, 2006

It's not about Vista, but this guide helped me recently when I set a Shuttle up in a dual-boot XP-Ubuntu arrangement for the first time.

I'd also go for a partition for each OS, one for the swap and then one or more data drives to share.

Just make sure you don't install GRUB on the master boot record, or else windows will overwrite it every time it boots.
posted by StuMiller at 11:22 PM on December 18, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies.

As I'll be using windows (either XP or Vista) 97% of the time, I think I'm going to use NTFS for my files.

If I can get XP working with the new NTFS, I'll use that, and have a separate fat32 file system for linux.

I haven't been able to find any information on XP compatibility with Transactional NTFS, so I'm really not sure what my chances are.
posted by nazca at 9:05 AM on December 19, 2006

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