installing opensuse on an existing ubuntu-winXP dual boot

Hi All,
Recently I switched to ubuntu/linux. Now I want to try openSUSE :). Please guide me on installing it.

I have the following query:

Context of the query:
This question is about installing openSUSE 11.1 on a laptop, on which I already installed ubuntu 9.04 and windowsXP. As of now, the dual boot works perfect. At the bootup, I can opt either of the five ubuntu versions and winXP.

Background information:
I installed ubuntu and winXP from scratch. First I installed ubuntu9.04 and then winXP. But before installing ubuntu, using the liveCD, I made five partitions on my 160 GB hard disk:
first partition- 20 GB with filesystem ext3 (on which I installed Ubuntu 9.04)
second parition- 30 GB with filesystem NTFS (on which winXP is installed)
third - extended partition with two logical partitions: (1) 60 GB with filesystem ext3 (I installed this as home for ubuntu); (2) 5 GB (which I use as swap for ubuntu)
forth partition- 30 GB (with filesystem ext3) (THIS partition is empty and I plan to install openSUSE 11.1 over it)

I have liveCD of openSUSE 11.1 and would like to install it in the forth partition. Here are my questions:
Q1: Can I install openSUSE so that I can choose between ubuntu, winXP and openSUSE?
Q2: If I can, then can share the ubuntu home with the openSUSE linux?
Q3: If yes then please guide me how to do this?

My knowledge levels:

  1. I partitioned and installed ubuntu on a clean hard disk.
  2. Then installed winXP alongside ubuntu.
  3. Edited the GRUB to get back my ubuntu.
  4. Edited menu.lst of ubuntu to add winXP.

I am a bit scared about installing another linux alongside the existing linux system.

Please suggest a sequence where I just install using liveCD and then I follow the same GRUB editings and menu.lst editings with which I am already familiar.


To answer your questions:
Q1: Yes, you can. You would get 2 extra entries in the bootloader menu: openSUSE 11.1 and openSUSE 11.1 Failsafe. The installer will create all entries, no need for editing any GRUB files, just take care during install.
Q2: Yes. But…you will have to see that the user-ID’s and user-names on Ubuntu and openSUSE are the same.
Q3: Ehhhmm. Start install, at partitioning take care that you install on the proper partition, and that the partition that has /home on it, is mounted in /home. That’s about it.

Before doing so, label the linux partitions through Ubuntu’s partitioner, so that you can recognize the partitions.

Normally it is suggested to install a WinOS first, then a linux distro; the WinOS will not overwrite the linux bootloader, the linux distro will automatically add a startup option for the WinOS.

Hope this helps.

Hi wise penguin,

So you mean:

  1. I just boot from opensuse11.1. liveCD and once in the desktop of livesession I select install.
  2. Then the installer will prompt me abotu which partition I want it to be put into. I choose the forth empty partition (which I labelled as linux2).
  1. I also mount the common home partition as home in the install process

Before doing so, label the linux partitions through Ubuntu’s partitioner, so that you can recognize the partitions.

Yes I did this.

Thanks for a quick guidance.


Cheers, you got what I wrote. Mind, if you do get trouble with /home on either openSUSE or Ubuntu, it will be in the user-ID’s. Get back to us if so.

Hi Knurpht,

I overlooked the following lines of yours in the previous answer you gave.

But, I installed Ubuntu first, winXP second and now scheduling openSUSE as the third. IS there any chance of mine ending in vacuum on this way.


I wouldn’t say so. openSUSE will read the config you made for Ubuntu and add the present options to it’s own GRUB.

This is the idea: install Ubuntu, then XP, and XP will overwrite the bootloader code. This is what happened to you. Install XP first, then Ubuntu, and Ubuntu will configure the bootloader to start both Ubuntu and XP, without manual interference.
Sequence of install is of no importance anymore since you have got it working.

Chances of ending up in a vacuum are almost zero. Just look closely at the partitioning and go. There’s always the Ubuntu or openSUSE disk to repair things.

An interesting thread.

I’m curious. You installed Ubuntu first then xp. Did the xp installer have a problem because a Linux partition existed first up on the drive?

And also a comment: Ubuntu creates folders in the /home directory that have e.g. user=john and group=john. OpenSUSE creates folders in the /home directory that have user=john and group=users. So I wonder if that difference will complicate the use of the same home partition for openSUSE as for Ubuntu.

What do you think Knurpht?

Hello Swerdna and Knurpht,


Absolutely none. Because before installing ubuntu, I already made five (3 primary, 1 extended with two logical) paritions, of which one was NTFS.

So during installation, winXP installer reported the existence of four paritions and prompted me to choose the parition for winXP. At this point, I chose the NTFS parition.

However, the winXP over wrote the GRUB and I could not access Ubuntu in my first boot up after XP was installed. I used liveCD and edited GRUB and pointed it to ubuntu partition. Then I added winXP location into menu.lst of ubuntu.

I have not yet gone forward on openSUSE installation yet. Waiting for Knurpht’s answer to this question of your’s.


To satify my continuing curiosity, could you boot into Ubuntu & run this command and post here:

sudo fdisk -l

If we don’t hear from Knurpht, I have Ubu & openSUSE on the one drive and can construct a new /home partition in Ubu and then share it over into openSUSE and tell you what happens, but I’ll wait a bit.

Hi Swerdna,

I am at work now. Shall post you the results of running this command by evening.

Yes please. Do share the experience. Thank you,

I’m not a great linux user but would think using the same log-in name for both installs could be a problem when using the same /home.
If you want different configurations on desk-top or some other apps. could be impossible. Some of the config. files I think (swerdna ?) are in the /home, not booted in to linux so can not check. I do share a /home but use different user names.

I agree with LostFarmer in that config files like the hidden directory .gconf and so on will differe between Ububtu and openSUSE.

In Ubuntu you can use the tool System → Admin → Users and Groups → Unlock → Manage Groups:
Manage Groups → Users → Properties → Tick username (e.g. john).
Manage Groups → groupname (e.g. john) → Properties → Tick username (e.g. john). This seems strange but think it through.

In openSUSE you can use the tool Yast → Security & Users → User % Group Management → Add → give it the name “john” and the gid 1000 and assign in the right hand column the user john to it.

Now I have a time problem from a deadline of 31 October for my taxation papers to be submitted – so I can’t actually do anything significant from now on (like try out a shared home partition).

So I’m outta here for the next 4 days.