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Old October 26, 2012, 08:12 AM
AJR AJR is offline
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Default Partitioning 120GB SSD for Dual Boot?

Hi all. I'm planning to partition my 120GB SSD so I can dual boot Win7 and Mint. Some one already told me the following info, but I had some followup questions that I was hoping you could help me with. First, this is what he told me:

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Most of the time it is as simple as partition, install windows, install linux and you are done. Just decide how much space you want for Linux and set that aside. boot up to a partition tool such as gparted, and partition 1 NTFS partition for windows (larger than 60GB should be good), 1 partition in EXT4 for Linux (I suggest between 20 and 40 GB unless you need more) and one swap partition at least the size of your RAM, but 1.5x the RAM is average.
It is a good Idea to set aside a DATA partition for things you need access to in both OSs.

Boot to windows and install to the NTFS partition. Make sure you install all your drivers and such and it is properly setup to your liking. Then use it to make your Linux install media. Then boot to your linux media and install from it to the EXT4 partition following the instructions in the setup manager for your Distro. Then update, and you have successfully dual booted your system. It is not a difficult thing to do.
I still have the following questions:

First (and this is something I asked about in a separate thread, but would like your input), I purchased a 120GB SSD for the OS, and I'm using my 500GB for data. Would you say 120GB is big enough to go ahead with the dual boot? If so, how would you partition the 120GB SSD (how much space for each OS, etc)?

He said, "It is a good Idea to set aside a DATA partition for things you need access to in both OSs." Was this only assuming one HDD? In other words, since I'll have the 500 HDD for data, would you still suggest a data partitian on the SSD, or now I can just use the HDD for that?

Oh, and in addition to the last questions I posted, what format should I create the "swap partition" in? And what is a swap partition anyway?

I'm sorry for so many questions, but I thank you for all of your help!
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Old October 26, 2012, 08:37 AM
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if you dont plan on installing any games on the SSD it'll be fine, 30GB is fine for mint, just run the live CD and install it, and allow it to partition it for you.
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Old October 26, 2012, 08:38 AM
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Make sure to put your swap on the other driver as well as a few other directories like /var/log as these constantly get written too.

NTFS in Linux has gotten better but it's still risky to write to drives formatted that way in Linux. You can get a ext3/4 driver for Windows to access stuff from a Linux partition within Windows.

And I am not 100 percent sure but I don't think Linux has native garbage support for ssd yet but could be wrong.
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Old October 26, 2012, 08:44 AM
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Linux has supported TRIM since 2.6.28.
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Old October 26, 2012, 08:58 AM
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Thanks for all the answers. I have to admit, a few things (especially "Make sure to put your swap on the other driver as well as a few other directories like /var/log as these constantly get written too") I don't completely follow. Is there a good tutorial for this around that you can point to? Thanks.

Last edited by AJR; October 26, 2012 at 09:15 AM.
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Old October 26, 2012, 10:17 AM
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Don't worry about it, /var and your swap partition are just fine on the SSD. Moving the data you write most frequently to your slowest device makes no sense to me. You bought a SSD, don't be afraid to use it. It won't wear it out.

I'm a little nervous about using gparted to create Windows' own partition, but it's probably ok. The whole sector offset/alignment thing with DOS and old Windows taught me that Windows prefers to create it's own partitions, especially for booting. My own method for installation would be simply...
  • boot Windows installer, let it have about 80GB of the SSD and install Windows into that
  • you now have a working Windows machine
  • boot Linux installer, partition the remainder of the SSD for Linux and install into that
  • Linux installer writes a boot loader that will prompt you for which OS on boot
  • you now have a dual-boot machine
  • from within either Linux or Windows, partition and format the 500GB data drive
The 500G drive is your data drive. You can partition this out however you like. It's a good place to back up the SSD to.
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Old October 26, 2012, 10:37 AM
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Ardric, thanks so much! I have to be honest, I like your method best. It seems easiest and doesn't involve any extra steps that I'm unfamiliar with. So yeah, I think I'll do it this way.

I guess my only clarification question would be about where and how to partition the "swap" and all of those other partitions mentioned? Or is all of that done automatically when using the installers as you explained?

And finally, are there any necessary partitions needed for the data drive (500 GB HDD), or can I pretty much reformat it and just create file folders when I need to store data?

Thanks again, this has been very helpful.
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Old October 26, 2012, 11:26 AM
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If you are using NTFS-3g in Linux (and most distros in the last 3-4 years have), writes should be perfectly safe, though the older ntfs module had a few issues.
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Old October 26, 2012, 02:01 PM
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Different Linux distributions and installers have different ideas about how many partitions to use for Linux and how they should be laid out. In the old days or on big iron we used to use seperate disk partitions for stuff like /, /tmp, /usr, /var, /usr/local, /home, and a dedicated swap partition. That ends up being a lot of partitions to manage! It also means you have to watch your disk usage carefully to be sure you don't fill any of the partitions up. Way too much hassle for a desktop.

I don't know what Mint does, sorry. RedHat-ish systems like Fedora and CentOS like to allocate a single disk partition, assign that partition as a LVM disk volume, then subdivide the volume up into smaller chunks. In this way the Linux system has many small partitions but all of Linux looks like one big partition as far as the BIOS and Windows can see. If you just go with defaults and keep clicking OK, you'll probably end up with something like that. That should be fine. I'd just go with the defaults until you form your own opinions on how it should be done.

The usual suggestion for the size of swap is 1.5 times RAM. Swap can be it's own true partition, or part of a Linux volume group, or can just be a swap file stored in Linux somewhere. I don't know how much RAM you have, but you probably won't need more than 3 or 4GB of swap. If you find 4GB of swap isn't enough, then you should probably just run less apps at once or buy more RAM. Having really deep swap around can save a server's life when something rare happens, but this is a desktop. And since 4GB isn't that big, there should be room to squeeze it onto the SSD with the rest of the Linux system.

Re partitioning the data drive, there's where you'll have some fun. Format the partition with NTFS in Windows, and Windows will love it. Linux can read from it, but be careful/nervous about writing to it from within Linux. See the other comments. Or you can format a partition with ext4 or your Linux filesystem of choice, but then Windows will need help reading and writing it. Software is available, but it's not plug&play. Or you can use FAT32, and enjoy suckage all around. There's no perfect/right choice. I'd probably end up with a mix of stuff, like an NTFS partition I use exclusively for Windows backups and Windows-only storage, an ext4 partition that I use for Linux extra storage because the SSD is small, and maybe a 3rd partition that can be wiped and reformatted frequently, with whatever helps today's tasks.
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Old October 26, 2012, 04:43 PM
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Ardric,

All very helpful stuff, thanks! I think I'll probably partition the HDD as you suggested with both NTFS and ext4, with probably the majority of it going to NTFS since Linux can read it. The third partition I might skip, since I'm not entirely sure what to do with it.

One last question and I think I'm all set. If I go the route you suggested (simply installing windows, then linux, and using the installers to partition, will one or both of those installers give me the option to add a Swap partition? I'm guessing yes, since you suggested to go that way, but I thought I'd ask.

Oh, and I have 8GB of memory. That's actually part of the reason why i wanted to install Mint or Ubuntu, because I only have Win7 x32, and I know that won't even be able to access a full 4 GB.

Anywho, thanks again!
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