Partition problems for dual-boot with Win XP

I have a Pentium4 3 GHz PC with 1 GB RAM and 3 HDDs with 40 GB, 250 GB and 120 GB capacities.

I had partitioned the 40 GB HDD as follows:
C - 14 GB for Windows and Windows utilities
D - 23 GB for Linux.

I have installed all windows utilities in the C:\Utilities folder. At present, the C partition has 2.4 GB free space.

But when I start OpenSuse 11 installation, it gives a strange display; coupled with a strange recommendation for partitioning, as described below-

  1. The recommended partition is-

Shrink Windows partition to 7.8 GB.
Create the following new partitions:
15.4 GB extended
1.4 GB swap
6.0 GB root
8.0 GB /home

The problem is: The C partition is already occupied to the extent of 11.6 GB (which includes Windows and Utilities folders). So how can I allow the installer to shrink the partition to 7.8 GB??

Is the installer trying to delete the “Utilities” folder?

  1. The Expert tab shows the partitionsas follows (named as sda1, sda2, etc.) -

14 GB Windows
7.8 GB
15.4 GB extended
1.4 GB swap
6.0 GB root
8.0 GB /home

Here, the problem is, the total size exceeds the HDD size (40 GB)!

This display matches the recommended partition, except that the 14 GB original partition is shown intact.

I want to let the installer use the D partition and manage everything within that. I do not want it to disturb the C partition at all. But the installer does not seem to offer this choice.

What should I do?

The short answer is to use expert mode, and edit the partition table the way you
want. Before I suggest a setup, I want to correct a couple of misconceptions.
First of all, the openSUSE installer knows nothing of what is in the Windows
partitions. It is merely trying to provide what it thinks is enough space for Linux.

A second misconception concerns the extended partition. A disk may have only 4
primary partitions. It is not good practice to use all of them, as you have no
room for expansion. What the installer is trying to do is use one of those slots
to contain an extended partition. Its size is that of the contained partitions,
but you only have to count it once.

For me, 29 GB would probably be a bit tight for Linux. At present, I have about
7 GB in / and 37 GB in /home. I do kernel development and need a lot of space.
If it is possible to get about 40 GB from either your second or third drive, I
would put /home there, use a 2 GB swap space with the rest of the first disk
used for /. That way you split / and /home, which is really handy for upgrades -
your data is left undisturbed, and you will have plenty of space.


I am a Linux newbie. Let me get this right:

the openSUSE installer knows nothing of what is in the Windows partitions. It is merely trying to provide what it thinks is enough space for Linux.

Yes, but since it recommended shrinking a partition with 11.6 GB data to 7.8 GB, I had the doubt.

(The shrinking is suggested in the default partitioning only. When I reset it, a second option is presented, as I listed as 2nd option in my original post. In this option, the Windows partition appears as 14 GB, which is the original size.)

Its size is that of the contained partitions,
but you only have to count it once.

I think that means-
15.4 = 1.4 GB + 6.0 GB + 8.0 GB
(i.e., extended= swap + root + /home).

So, the second partitioning option seems to offer what I wanted (fit Linux in the D partition without disturbing the C partition).

Should I go with this (no.2) option?

For me, 29 GB would probably be a bit tight for Linux.

My plan was to use the remaining two disks for data only (no applications running from those partitions at all). In other words, run both Windows and Linux from one HDD, and keep all data in the other two (larger) HDDs. That way, a crash of Windows/Linux should not affect the data.

So what should I do to share the remaining disk(s) with Windows, in such a way that Windows and Linux can read+write from all those partitions? All are NTFS partitions.

Thanks in advance!

The installer was initially trying to work around the “D:” partition. You created that “for Linux” but it knows it for what it is, a Windows partition, probably even already formatted NTFS. Since you don’t have anything on that partition, just delete it in Windows beforehand. Now you’ll have 23GB of unallocated space for the SuSE installer to work with.

Keep in mind that the installer can only make an educated guess. You can try a couple of its guesses, or go into expert mode and set up the partitions yourself. A typical approach would be to make the 2nd primary partition “swap” sized ~1.5GB. The 3rd primary would be the root partition, designated with a “/” (forward slash), ~8GB. The remaining partition would be for “/home”, ~13GB.

As Larry explained, the installer may propose/you may choose to use an “extended” primary. This is done to allow for the addition of more partitions than 4. You could make the 2nd the extended, in which case swap, /, and /home would all be on “logical” (the term for a partition within an extended) partitions. Or you could make swap a primary, / a primary, and then make the 4th an extended, with /home therefore being on the first logical. Having said all that, with this smaller drive it is unlikely you will have a need for another partition, so you may just want to go with 4 primaries (i.e., no extended at all) and be done with it.

If you do the setup manually, you only need be concerned with a 3 fields of data to enter. Click the “Format” box, and under the File System tab, choose ext3 (or “swap” for, well, swap). In the “Start” field enter the size, e.g., “8GB”. In the “Mount Point” field, for the swap partition leave it blank, for the root partition enter the forward slash (/), for the home partition enter “/home” (forward slash/home). For the last partition you enter, leave the start/end fields as already filled in, which will take the remaining space exactly. When done, check that the summary is displaying what you meant to enter. (If you choose to use an extended, you’ll need to tell the partitioner that, too.)

Having storage on the other drives for shared use between Windows and SuSE is fine. You’ll want to give some thought to how you want the partitions on those drives organized - it’s better to have manageable sized partitions which align with a particular function. One big 250GB partition for data, photos, video, editing, compiling, etc. is common, but not a particularly good idea. Cross this bridge after installation.

One last nit: Best to stop thinking in terms of drive letters. Windows arbitrarily assigns those, but they are meaningless other than to differentiate one from another. They are not even drive assignments; they are partitions. They need not be sequential, and can easily not be in the actual physical sequence in the machine. All this is a relic from DOS. In Linux, partitions are assigned the number they have in the partition table, and are mounted at a directory point (i.e., a folder) which are named however makes it easy for the user (e.g., “/home/video”). In Windows you can use the drive label to identify a partition similarly. Just fwiw . . .

Wow! This deserves to be in the installation manual!

Thanks for the tips. I followed the earlier tip, and let the installer do the resizing. It actually did not touch the Windows C partition, but cut the D partition, as described by lwfinger earlier. Now after the installation I have a 7.8 GB partition extra.

Another misleading issue was that the extended partition and the three sub-partition are all shown without any indentation. Further, all are given the same type of names (sdax). If the sub-partitions are indented to right, it would be more intuitive. (Windows partition manager shows the extended partition as a rectangle and the sub-partition as nested rectangles inside that rectangle. That’s intuitive.)

Thanks once again!

You’re quite welcome. :slight_smile: . . . me thinks you haven’t done many fresh installs of XP or Vista. There is no help at all with disk setup in XP. Even with Vista there were a gazillion howls from users having problems setting up the disk.

Just fyi re the sd<x><n> partition naming scheme, that is simply mapping directly to what is in the disk partition table (unlike the antiquated DOS “drive letter” scheme still used in Windows).
The only thing that distinguishes a logical from a primary, is that because the Master Boot Record’s partition table only has room for 4 entries, one of those entries is used as a pointer to a record in each partition where that partition’s details are kept in lieu of the MBR. The terms extended and logical helped make this description location difference understandable. Other than where the descriptions are kept, all partitions are alike.

Correct! At work there is the admin guy who’ll do the installation. Since he has already burnt his fingers on multiple PCs, he doesn’t even look at the screens- He just hammers away. Most of the PCs come preloaded anyway; so there is hardly any learning.

At home it’s different. So all this is definitely part of the learning curve. :slight_smile:

BTW on a dual-boot PC, the drive letters definitely cause an issue: What is dive D in Windows is drive C in Linux. And I have a total of 12 partitions, which are not serially labeled even in Windows. Now add the linux’s new labels and I’m lost!

When I installed 10.3, I edited a text file to re-label all partitions in Linux. I guess I’ll have to do that again.

What might make it easier for you is to (a) use the same label for a partition in both Windows and SuSE. In Windows you can do this under Disk Management or in Explorer by right-clicking on the drive name (e.g., “local disk”). In SuSE, you can do that in the YaST Partitioner. Unfortunately, Windows restricts you to a very short name. Also, (b) you can use aligned or friendly mounts points. Some users have folders like /home/user/windows/D (and so forth); others use descriptive folder names (“video”, “photos”, “music1”, "music2). Personally, I don’t care for the method using drive letters in SuSE because it holds one back to the antiquated Windows scheme; and, with multiple partitions (like you have), who can remember that anyway?