Partitioning for a dual boot, and other questions

I currently have openSUSE 11.0 installed and love it, but I’ve found that it simply doesn’t work right with my audio recording hardware, so I found that I can use Fedora for this, and install the CCRMA packages to get the recording thing. I’m ok with having a dual boot like this. My question is, since I have an existing openSUSE installation, what should I do about disk partitioning? I have a single 250GB SATA drive. Right now, SUSE has it all. I know that Fedora and SUSE can share a swap partition, but I’m not sure how I should create the Fedora partition. Should I use a separate partitioning program, or should I do the partitioning in the Fedora installation process? Also, I’m assuming that I will be able to access my SUSE /home partition from Fedora. I don’t know if I will share the /home if I have the option, since they will theoretically serve different purposes, but who knows. I may even eventually switch over to Fedora if I like it enough, but for now I think a dual boot will suffice.

Anyway, what should I do here?


AFAIK Fedora and SuSE share the same partitioning core, as do the other major distros, with is Parted (libparted). You don’t say how you have the disk partitioned, but my guess is that you allocated a very large amt of space to /home. You can resize that from the Fedora installation partitioner, or you can use a separate live-CD sort of tool, but essentially they’re the same.

You can certainly access the SuSE /home from Fedora, but as far as sharing the exact same /home between both distros, while that would work it might also be risky. It would certainly require close coordination.

Obviously this is a matter of personal pref, but what I have found to work best is to use /home strictly for what needs to be in /home, like email and the browser configuration. User “data” I keep on separate partitions, organized by data type. So for example, I have a large audio library that has its own storage, a large picture library with its own storage, and a large video library the same. On this primary workstation, besides XP and Vista, I have 4 linux OS’s, my production, a mirror, and 2 test. I find it easier to manage the storage if it is structured logically according to use. All the data partitions are accessible and changeable from all instances.

You will want to give a little thought to handling the boot. With just 2 instances, it’s not complicated. But 1 will need to be the primary and you will need to either direct boot from its menu.lst or chainload to the boot sector in the other instance.

Hope that helps.

Thanks for the advice. I usually keep documents and pictures in my /home, and not a whole lot else, other than temporary downloads and such. I have all my music on an external drive, and I don’t really do much with video so I don’t have to deal with that. I am glad that they will partition nicely though.

I was wondering about the boot loader situation. Here’s a question: assuming I might decide that I like Fedora better and want to get rid of openSUSE to free up space, how could I recover my boot loader, assuming I use openSUSE as the “master”, or visa versa? From waht I recall, restoring boot loaders can be tricky sometimes…


Naw, managing the boot loader isn’t a problem. Different ways to do it, but here’s one that is real simple . . . put each distro’s /boot on its own partition, i.e., there are two /boot partitions. If you have W$ on the machine, put that OS on the first partition, followed by the two linux /boot partitions. Then install grub in the boot sector of each /boot partition. In the MBR, install a generic bootstrap. That’s what Windows uses (all versions), it’s an option in SuSE. You can even find this code on the web, simple to install it with dd. Once it’s there, it stays there until its overwritten with something else. This old-fashioned generic MBR will look for the “active” primary partition, so given that almost always an extended partition is needed and an extended cannot be an “active”, that means one of the first three. What tells the code it is active is a bootable flag in the partition table. To switch the primary boot from Windows to SuSE to Fedora back and forth, all that’s required is toggling off/on the bootable flag, making that partition the boot volume. Cfdisk does this easily in linux, and its very easy to do in Windows in Disk Management. You have a boot loader in each of the boot sectors (Windows does this too, all versions), so you can chainload between them. With this method you can then also put the linux root partition wherever you wish, on any disk that you wish, don’t have to do anything other that change the partition point in the /boot partition’s menu.lst. Just a thought.

jacklab is i similar project have a read here and here


One caveat with this: when I tried setting up a Vista-SUSE-Ubuntu tri-boot, Ubuntu didn’t recognize my LVM partitions. It just saw 100GB of “unknown.” Not sure if that’ll hold true with Fedora. If you’re using ext3, that shouldn’t be a problem.


Geoff- I’m having a problem installing the JackLab repositories for some reason. I try to install the first one, and it keeps telling me that /pub/linux/misc/jacklab/openSUSE-11.0/RPMS/ is invalid or something like that. What’s going on?


“Something like that” is a bit difficult to diagnose. I’ve seen this particular server down for short stretches before; backups or ? In any event, I just added the repository no problem. What is easiest now in Add Repositories is just to paste the entire url . . .