Ideas for an openSUSE "Windows-less" HD

(This may have been more appropriate under Looking For Something Other Than Support?)

I am building a “Windows-less” HD (no versions of MS Windows). I have acquired the first of two 500GB Seagate Momentus drives for this purpose. The Seagate was selected because the drive being replaced is the exact same geometry, however the new drive is 7200rpm vs 5400rpm. If this process is successful, I may repeat with an SSD.

The current drive is partitioned as follows:

Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders, total 976773168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x9dd6057a

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1              63    25173854    12586896   27  Hidden NTFS WinRE
/dev/sda2        25173855    25382699      104422+   7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda3        25382700   339956051   157286676    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda4   *   339967528   976768064   318400268+   f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/sda5       339967530   402878069    31455270    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda6       402878133   411263999     4192933+  82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda7       411264063   453209714    20972826   83  Linux
/dev/sda8       453209778   495155429    20972826   83  Linux
/dev/sda9       495155493   503541359     4192933+  82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda10      503541423   545487074    20972826   83  Linux
/dev/sda11      545487138   671324219    62918541   83  Linux
/dev/sda12      734220288   774217727    19998720   83  Linux
/dev/sda13      774219776   814217215    19998720   83  Linux
/dev/sda14      814222458   856168109    20972826   83  Linux
/dev/sda15      856168173   898113824    20972826   83  Linux
/dev/sda16      898115584   926902271    14393344   83  Linux
/dev/sda17      926902368   968382134    20739883+  83  Linux
/dev/sda18      968382198   976768064     4192933+  82  Linux swap / Solaris

Windows/7 occupies sda1(Recovery), sda2 and sda3. sda5 is a shared NTFS partition, to avoid direct write to the Windows partitions (my choice). sda’s (6,7,8) are Ubuntu 10.04.1 LTS, (12,13) are LinuxMint 9 (“Isadora”), (14,15) is Fedora 14.

sda’s (9,10,11) is the primary platform, openSUSE 11.4. sda’s (16,17,18) is the test openSUSE, currently 11.4 with Gnome 3.

The new HD currently looks like:

Disk /dev/sdb: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders, total 976773168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xdde49153

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
linux-go8d:~ # 

Almost fresh, out-of-the-box, I did let Windows “initialize” the drive, writing the MBR, partition table, etc, without creating any volume(s). I have two ideas for the partition layout:

Configuration #1

Primary partitions: sda1,sda2,sda3 - openSUSE 11.4 (now), the “primary” platform.
Extended partition: sda5 (?), which will contain the test openSUSE, either an Ubuntu OR Mint small configuration, a “playground” set of three(3) partitions, and a “/Data” partition. This /Data partition is to contain my/our actual files, instead of residing in the /home partition.

Configuration #2

One large extended partition, sub-partitioned for everything else,

Configuration #3

One large primary, reserved for future, and the remainder of the drive ala Configuration #2.

I would appreciate any thoughts on the above, or any alternate configuration suggestions. Another question is the location of GRUB. Would GRUB be best in the extended partition ? Can I leave the MBR unaltered, by setting the active partition flag on the extended partition with GRUB ?

These questions may seem inordinately simple, yet the answers are much easier to come by when one has MS Windows squatting on the drive, basically dictating the multi-boot options, occasionally commandeering the MBR and using up the primary partitions.

On a last note, prior to planning the “Windows-less” configuration, I had given some thought to including a small Windows/XP install, in the extended partition. I have never successfully pulled that off, usually greeted by an assortment of odd errors informing me that I should be using primary partitions for Windows. For the very few things for which I do need a Windows/XP environment, I have an old, trusty P4. (Wine does not, as far as I know, handle MS Office VBA applications replete with macros, functions and user panels).

As for the original (and backed up) hard drive, plans are to restore it to out-of the-factory state, seal in a plastic bag and save for either sale of one of the laptops or upgrade Windows 7 to /SP1 and leave it similarly alone.

You and please_try_again must be in competition for the greatest number of partitions on a single hard drive. lol! Of the choices you gave SeanMc98 for a Windowless configuration I would select option:

Configuration #2

One large extended partition, sub-partitioned for everything else,

In addition I would place the Grub boot loader into the MBR for your master copy of Linux. I have been making the MBR generic booting, but only so as to dual boot Windows 7 and allow for easy Service Pack installations. No Windows, then why not place Grub into the MBR? On a side note and not because I am any sort of VM wizard, have you considered using an VM like VirtualBox? I did just get it installed and loaded Windows XP and Linux Mint 11, using a large general disk space area. It seems really fast on my Sandy Bridge PC and could be an alternative to 18 partitions. Have you tried any VM lately?

That being said, I still like the looks of your option #2.

Thank You,

Like many books, the HD, like the tale, has grown in the telling! And like Diogenes in searching, I was looking for a distro that properly handled the Intel Arrandale/Ironlake configuration. While all of the aforementioned do (mostly) handle the graphics, only Ubuntu and LinuxMint do not require the lid closure/re-opening at boot time, along with power-management modifications. As for Fedora, it had some sentimental value, as its earlier incarnation, RHL, was the first Linux distro I seriously considered and used. (Formerly, a Berk/BSD and IBM AIX user, … but I wander …).

I like that one also, and considered the primary/extended combination as, perhaps, a slight performance improvement.

I also like that idea. It does become somewhat difficult to ignore that which has been the “rule” for so many years, accomodating MS like the gorilla (or pink elephant) in the room! :wink:

I had previously (prior to the i3/i5 boxes I am running) not considered such, though the idea is appealing. I have used the IBM mainframe equivalent (originally VM/370 through various incarnations and nomenclature changes) to do exactly this on a very large scale.

As do I … thanks !

I had previously (prior to the i3/i5 boxes I am running) not considered such, though the idea is appealing. I have used the IBM mainframe equivalent (originally VM/370 through various incarnations and nomenclature changes) to do exactly this on a very large scale.

So I would think an i5 would do well as the VM host. Don’t recall your memory total, but 8 GB seems to be more than enough and surely 500 GB of disk space is enough. And, there is no reason to give up on your real world partition setup either. Just give VM some thought.

Thank You,

Well, if you look at fdisk output, maybe:

# fdisk -l /dev/sda

Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders, total 976773168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xb545b545

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1              63      514079      257008+   6  FAT16
/dev/sda2        73947195   359229464   142641135   a5  FreeBSD
/dev/sda3       361398240   462061529    50331645   a5  FreeBSD
/dev/sda4       462061530   976768064   257353267+   f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/sda5       462061593   466383014     2160711   82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda6       466383078   472825079     3221001   83  Linux
/dev/sda7       472825143   506384864    16779861   83  Linux
/dev/sda8       506384928   518963759     6289416   83  Linux
/dev/sda9       518963823   552523544    16779861   83  Linux
/dev/sda10      552523608   625137344    36306868+  83  Linux
/dev/sda11      625137408   633796379     4329486   83  Linux
/dev/sda12      633796443   674842454    20523006   83  Linux
/dev/sda13      674842518   691758899     8458191   83  Linux
/dev/sda14      691758963   704337794     6289416   83  Linux
/dev/sda15      704337858   712996829     4329486   83  Linux
/dev/sda16      712996893   754042904    20523006   83  Linux
/dev/sda17      754042968   770959349     8458191   83  Linux
/dev/sda18      770959413   783538244     6289416   83  Linux
/dev/sda19      783538308   792197279     4329486   83  Linux
/dev/sda20      792197343   976768064    92285361   83  Linux

But if you ask sfdisk

#sfdisk -l /dev/sda 2>/dev/null

Disk /dev/sda: 60801 cylinders, 255 heads, 63 sectors/track
Units = cylinders of 8225280 bytes, blocks of 1024 bytes, counting from 0

   Device Boot Start     End   #cyls    #blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1          0+     31      32-    257008+   6  FAT16
/dev/sda2       4603   22360   17758  142641135   a5  FreeBSD
/dev/sda3      22496   28761    6266   50331645   a5  FreeBSD
/dev/sda4      28762   60800   32039  257353267+   f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/sda5      28762+  29030     269-   2160711   82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda6      29031+  29431     401-   3221001   83  Linux
/dev/sda7      29432+  31520    2089-  16779861   83  Linux
/dev/sda8      31521+  32303     783-   6289416   83  Linux
/dev/sda9      32304+  34392    2089-  16779861   83  Linux
/dev/sda10     34393+  38912    4520-  36306868+  83  Linux
/dev/sda11     38913+  39451     539-   4329486   83  Linux
/dev/sda12     39452+  42006    2555-  20523006   83  Linux
/dev/sda13     42007+  43059    1053-   8458191   83  Linux
/dev/sda14     43060+  43842     783-   6289416   83  Linux
/dev/sda15     43843+  44381     539-   4329486   83  Linux
/dev/sda16     44382+  46936    2555-  20523006   83  Linux
/dev/sda17     46937+  47989    1053-   8458191   83  Linux
/dev/sda18     47990+  48772     783-   6289416   83  Linux
/dev/sda19     48773+  49311     539-   4329486   83  Linux
/dev/sda20     49312+  60800   11489-  92285361   83  Linux
/dev/sda21      5125+   9302-   4178-  33554432  
/dev/sda22      9302+  17661-   8359-  67142325+ 
/dev/sda23     17661+  18705-   1045-   8388608  
/dev/sda24     18705+  19749    1045-   8388608  
/dev/sda25      4603    5125-    523-   4194304  
/dev/sda26     20272+  22360    2089-  16778553+ 
/dev/sda27     19750   20272-    523-   4194304  
/dev/sda28     22496   23018-    523-   4194304  
/dev/sda29     23018+  23540-    523-   4194304  
/dev/sda30     23540+  25628    2089-  16777214+ 
/dev/sda31     25629   26151-    523-   4194304  
/dev/sda32     26151+  28239-   2089-  16777216  
/dev/sda33     28239+  28761     523-   4194302+ 

Anyway I won. lol!

That’s how I like them. lol!

My answer is clearly: NO.
But please - dear openSUSErs and Windoze* dual booters, I’m NOT going to argue again and again about that.

  • I know this spelling is widely deprecated, but it just seemed appropriate here.

Yes, you can. But you don’t have to, and IMHO you should not.

The best approach is simply to install each distro’s Grub in its own root partition (whether primary or logical), so each Linux is able to boot on its own (logical partitions will need to be chainloaded though) - and most of them will update their grub menu after a kernel update*. You can update other distros’ Legacy grub later with updategrub - as I think you’re already familiar with this script - as well as update-grub on Grub2 based distros.

  • I should say “all of them”, but some don’t need to - like ArchLinux for example - because the kernel name doesn’t change.

Then you install the Grub of you choice in the MBR. If you choose openSUSE, it’s even easier because you can already tell YaST to install Grub in both locations during setup: If you want another one, you an easily install its stage1 in MBR from a running system (by starting the grub shell with the grub command). When you install Grub in MBR, in puts is stage 1.5 on the first track. It’s faster, easier and safer if you have several harddisks. When you install Grub in a partition bootsector, there is no room for stage 1.5, so it loads stage2 which is on the file system - and like everything on the file system, as reliable and safe as the filesystem itself (if stage2 has moved or the partition has changed, it won’t work). With Grub2, it’s the only possibility - meaning it is explicitely discouraged to put Grub2 in a partition bootsector, won’t normally install without the --force option and won’t work very long anyway.

Don’t be afraid of installing Grub in several locations (MBR, Extended, Primary and logical bootsectors of any Linux partitions - except swap and Windows partitions … which come to the same lol!). It doesn’t hurt any system and you can have fun with findgrub and grubmenu:](

There is an easy workaround: don’t use Windows! (at least on physical hds) :wink:

I think swerdna and lostfarmer know how to achieve that.

I prefer Configuration-1 and it is the approach that I have adopted on my ancient Sandbox PC, albeit my drive for that PC is significantly smaller and my quantity of partitions significantly less.

My reason for preferring (and adopting) that approach is more speculation that logic, … where I note I can not predict the future for that partition. I may ‘think’ now I can predict the future, but my success at predicting the ‘future’ has proven less than successful over the past 12+ years of using GNU/Linux. :frowning: … Hence I speculated that there could come a time where I would want to keep any GNU/Linux partitions on the extended/logical partitions, and also for some unknown reason now use the primary sometime in the future. But if there is no primary, then that can be difficult to shuffle partitions, unless one resorts to a lot of backups (and indeed has the luxury of a backup external drive to do such mirroring). Hence I created partitions in the extended and also in the primary. … I can’t recall exactly what I ended up with, … but I’ll boot my sandbox PC and post it to this thread shortly.

One thing thou, and one could argue that Configuration #3 could also meet the intent of Configuration#1.

Here, as an example, with far fewer partitions, is the partitioning of my Sandbox PC:

stonehenge01:/home/oldcpu # fdisk -l

Disk /dev/sda: 320.1 GB, 320072933376 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 38913 cylinders, total 625142448 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x000bcd34

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1              63     1044224      522081    6  FAT16
/dev/sda2   *     1044225    52243379    25599577+  83  Linux
/dev/sda3        52243380    54283634     1020127+  82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda4        54283635   625137344   285426855    5  Extended
/dev/sda5        54283698   515076029   230396166   83  Linux
/dev/sda6       515076093   566275184    25599546   83  Linux
/dev/sda7       566275248   625137344    29431048+  83  Linux

Disk /dev/sdb: 163.9 GB, 163928604672 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 19929 cylinders, total 320173056 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00070b93

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdb1            2048    52436991    26217472   83  Linux
/dev/sdb2        52436992   104871935    26217472   83  Linux
/dev/sdb3       104871936   110446591     2787328   82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sdb4       110446592   320172031   104862720    f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/sdb5       110448640   215302143    52426752   83  Linux
/dev/sdb6       215304192   320143359    52419584   83  Linux

and possible of more interest is the output of please_try_again’s ‘findgrub’ script:

stonehenge01:/home/oldcpu # findgrub
Find Grub Version 3.4.2 - Written for openSUSE Forums

 - reading MBR on disk /dev/sda                       ... --> Grub  found in sda MBR     => sdb1   0x83 (openSUSE)
 - searching partition /dev/sda1      (FAT16)         ...
 - reading bootsector  /dev/sda2   *  (LINUX)         ... --> Grub  found in /dev/sda2   => sda2   0x83 (openSUSE)
 - skipping partition  /dev/sda3      (swap)         
 - reading bootsector  /dev/sda4      (Extended)      ... --> Grub  found in /dev/sda4   => sda6   0x83 (openSUSE)
 - reading bootsector  /dev/sda5      (LINUX)         ...
 - reading bootsector  /dev/sda6      (LINUX)         ...
 - reading bootsector  /dev/sda7      (LINUX)         ...

 - reading MBR on disk /dev/sdb                       ... --> Grub  found in sdb MBR     => sdb5   0x83 (openSUSE)
 - reading bootsector  /dev/sdb1      (LINUX)         ...
 - reading bootsector  /dev/sdb2      (LINUX)         ...
 - skipping partition  /dev/sdb3      (swap)         
 - reading bootsector  /dev/sdb4      (Extended)      ...
 - reading bootsector  /dev/sdb5      (LINUX)         ...
 - reading bootsector  /dev/sdb6      (LINUX)         ...

WARNING: /dev/sdb is NOT in /boot/grub/
         Displayed BIOS device mapping may be incorrect!

Press <enter> to Exit findgrub...

From which you see that I have still not used sdb to its ‘created potential’ for openSUSE GNU/Linux test installs in different partitions (as sdb2 and sdb6 are currently empty). Probably if I were to do this again, I would create 3 primary (and not only 2 primary) with an extended.

I’m not very happy with my MBR setup, but thats another story … another thread … and I’m currently too lazy to do anything about that.

On 08/30/2011 01:36 AM, SeanMc98 wrote:
> Almost fresh, out-of-the-box, I did let Windows “initialize” the drive,
> writing the MBR, partition table, etc, without creating any volume(s).

i prefer to
-unplug all drives
-take the new one out of the box and plug it in…
-boot from the latest openSUSE install DVD
-test the media with
-when asked, tell the installer to use the entire drive
-check the suggested partitioning scheme (will probably be 20GB for
root, 2GB or so for swap, and all the rest as /home) and the only thing
i would change (knowing MY requirements) is i would have about twice
as much swap as RAM [only because i am old and do not want to think too
much…ok, if you have over about 2GB of RAM you probably on need about
1.5 times as much swap as RAM…for example, if you have 10GB RAM, then
15GB swap is probably far more than enough to hibernate, suspend, etc
etc etc])…

now if you wanna do a lot of planning for the future go ahead…but my
experience is that other factors (like drive life, new filesystems
requiring a format, etc etc etc) will dictate change rather than the
detailed plans you might make today…

and, anyway ‘parted’ knows how to move stuff around and if the day comes
you want another root for another distro or three, then just do
it…and, you might find this interesting:

Have a lot of fun!

DD Caveat
openSUSE®, the “German Engineered Automobile” of operating systems!

I disagree with one piece of advice you were given earlier.

I always install GRUB in a partition and never in the MBR. On my disk, my
version of the current openSUSE distro (currently 11.4) is always installed in
partition 7 with GRUB installed in the extended partition (#4). Once I reach the
point where I feel the new release is good enough to actually burn media and
install in a real, as opposed to virtual, machine. That goes into partition 3.
To get back to the original GRUB menu, all I need to do is turn off the active
flag on 3 and turn it on in 4. In addition, my standard GRUB menu has an entry
to boot partition 3, and I can get to the new installation.

I think that the ultimate location of the Grub boot loader is simply a matter of personnel tastes and/or opinion. I always place the Grub boot loader into the openSUSE partition which is always sd?3 or sd?4 for me and indeed Grub can only be placed in partitions 1, 2, 3 or 4 or in the MBR. Placing Grub in an Extended Partition does work, but may be somewhat unconventional for some boot managers. I chose the Grub location due to the use of dual booting with Windows, but SeanMc98 has decided to go Windowless. If you place Grub into the MBR, you can boot from any partition, primary or logical. If there is no Windows, I feel the MRB is the best place for Grub. But, as stated before, its just one opinion among several.

Thank You,

One can always say that everything we do is a matter of taste or opinion. Whether this assumption is true is again a matter of philosophy. However the way Grub works when located in MBR or in a partition bootsector is not the same and doesn’t care about people’s taste.

  • While booting (exclusively) from a partition bootsector, you rely on the bootflag. So not the bootmanager decides which partition is going to boot but the bootflag itself. Try to unset the bootflag and see what happens! Try to use the option ‘makeactive’ in Grub menu to boot anything else and see what happens at next boot! Try to boot an operating system which requires its partition to be active but doesn’t have a bootmanager capable of booting others.

Assuming you have Grub in the extended partition and it is the 4th. one and sda2 is your swap partition, the following command will make you computer unbootable:

sfdisk /dev/sda -A2

It will have no effect if Grub is installed in MBR.

  • While booting stage2 directly you rely on the offset (startsector) of the partition containing stage2. Try to move this partition and see what happens!

  • And finally, there is nothing wrong with having Grub in several locations and it won’t prevent you from doing anything you like with the bootflags of other partitions - including setting the bootflag on a logical root partition - which openSUSE and Fedora setups tend to do, but I still fail to understand what sense it makes.

  • I’m aware that keeping a generic boot code In MBR may be convenient and Windows users know why. It doesn’t mean however that having Grub in a partition bootsector is better and safer and anyone playing a little bit with several operating systems on a single machine will notice pretty soon.