Partitioning/Install Guide

Partitioning Guide

This guide is designed for users New to Linux. Was written based on openSuSE and at the time of writing ver.11.
Firstly, if you are new to Linux then you are likely not familiar with partitioning in general and even if you are, you need to understand some basics first.

  1. All Linux users run as just that ‘a user’. If you are moving from Windows it is most likely that you ran Windows as an ‘Administrator’ (root). In Linux, any task which alters the Operating System (OS) of a Linux distro requires ‘root’ privileges. You will need the ‘root’ password to do this. Basically, this gives you temporary access to the core of your OS. This is what makes Linux far more secure than Windows.

  2. That being said you will now understand that we partition the HD/'s we have accordingly. This means we can keep our ‘user’ (/home) files separate. Which in turn means, when we upgrade, re-install etc… we don’t need to loose all our personal data or settings because it’s all located in /home.

The Basic Setup

The ‘root’ partition: Is represented by: /
The ‘home’ partition: Is represented by: /home
The ‘swap’ partition has no representation but is simply as format

Use your disto’s Custom Partitioning to setup partitions. It is much better than allowing default values.
Typically you need to allow:
‘root’ : 20G
‘home’: as much as you think you will need (I use 80G) but have separate external storage.
‘swap’ 1G should be plenty.

You will most likely then, have the following:


Custom Partitioning

After booting from the install medium or starting the installer from a live desktop version. You will progress from some basic questions to a install proposal, this is a default set of values determined by the installer after it has probed your system. If you only have one HD present and Windows is installed on it – you will likely see it offers to shrink the Windows partition and use the remaining space for a Linux install. Personally, I would not recommend this option – and though it will work and you should have already done a defrag on your Windows system, I would still recommend using Custom Partitioning. In any case you should still defrag Windows!
If more than one HD are present in your machine that is fine, (but still defrag any Windows) and progress to Custom Partitioning. Once in Custom Partitioning you should see your drive(s) and existing Partitions. You can create and edit here as required. Set the format type eg: ext3 – which will probably be your choice for both / and /home (at least at the time of writing this 2008). In SuSe you will see a drop box to the right to set the mount points; as already mentioned / and /home, swap does not have a mount point. You will choose the format radio button for / and maybe for /home if it’s a new install, but do not format /home if you want to keep the data already there, but still set the mount point.
It is at this point that you can also set mount points for xp or vista or other partitions. No mount point exists in the drop down, but you can fill in the box under the drop box. It will look something like:
/windows xp
or whatever you choose. Don’t forget the /
Once installed, this will create a folder in the tree.
You will notice too there is a fstab options button which will open a new mini window. In here you can give Volume Labels. Which might look like this:
no / here
This will make sure that you get a nice easy to see Label in My Computer identifying the partition.
Make sure the do not format radio is checked, it should be anyway by default.

Nothing will be written yet, so don’t worry. If you think everything is OK here, progress to the next step. An installation summary should appear.


The summary screen lists the basics of the installation but you can click on each heading eg: Software Packages and adjust accordingly. In my case recently on openSuSE 11, I had initally selected kde 4 at the beginning of the installation process but here added kde 3 also. You can use the summary to double check where your bootloader is going.


Commonly referred to as ‘Grub’. It will be traditional be placed on the MBR of your 1st HD. If you only have one HD and Windows is installed, grub will go to the MBR of that drive. Now grub will control booting Windows. If you later remove Linux and just want Windows, you will have to restore your MBR – The best method is to use your Windows disc (if you have one!). There are other methods though they will not be discussed here.
If, on the other hand you have 2 or more HD’s as I do, it is possible to set your Windows HD to 2nd boot HD and install the bootloader to the non-windows drive which should be set as 1st boot HD. You can as earlier described use space on the Windows HD to partition for Linux without altering the MBR.
It should be said that grub does not always get the settings to boot Windows quite correct and you may later have to adjust the /boot/grub/menu.lst file in your Linux installation. This file contains the commands for booting. This fact can be true in both cases, whether you have 1 or more HD’s. In the latter case though, because grub is installed to the non-windows HD, a temporary work around to boot Windows until /menu.lst is correct, is to change your HD boot in BIOS to make the Windows HD 1st, and Windows will boot, as grub is now on the 2nd HD. You can change this back once you have the correct settings in /menu.lst


Once you are happy with all your partitioning and settings, proceed with installation. The entering of passwords will be required for ‘root’ and later the ‘username’ you choose. Remember them. I always de-select automatic login.

Few comments :

  1. Best to say how (in Windows) to defrag disks by right clicking on the disk in computer, and looking in tools tab. Rather than assume it’s obvious, all to many Win users don’t ever seem to do it.

  2. Some of the GRUB explanation may be misleading with newer installer versions.

There’s a thread, discussing boot and / partitions, and a pointer to the Wiki page here, where the leader of the YaST team explains current thinking.

XFS Boot problem

The ‘active’ partition is used by the Generic boot code, which is likely to be installed in the MBR (or is already present). Then GRUB would get installed in the superblock of ext2/3 filesystem in a partition.

My understanding is, that installing ‘GRUB’ in the MBR is discouraged when Windows is around due to issues with it being overwritten by 'doze, or possibly causing some scare, when a security utility sees a change.

Hi,newbee, i am trying to do partitinoning and i just received this window “live instalation setting”
in th partioning i have these options

1-shrink windows partition/dev/sda2 to 95.68 GB (in red)
2-create boot partition/dev/sda4(70.60MB)with ex3
3-create volume group system from (in red)
4-set mount point of /dev/sda3 to /windows/D

now,why lines 1 and 3 are in red

when i accept and go further to accept installation ,i receive this warning window which is saying something like "if you continue now,existing partitions on your hard disk will be deleted or formatted (erasing any existing data on those partitions)…etc.

Does this mean that my windows vista will be deleted and i will be left only with linux?

please ,help .i just left the process ,in this stage ,untill i get some suggestion and help.


thanks again.

It means that Vista partition will be shrunk. But the rest of the information there is not conventional (normal).

First thing you should do before shrinking a partition in windows is to defrag it.!!

It is generally recommended that you free up space on the disk from within Vista so that when you boot the suse dvd you are presented with a disk have a Vista Partition and possibly a Vista Recovery Partition and One section of free space or partition.

Whilst I have myself done all the shrinking and partitioning from Suse, it is not the recommended way. But, now you have the free space Suse may propose something a little different from your above quote. Nevertheless, I would manage it myself and click the ‘Create Partition Setup’ button under the partition based choice - then ‘Custom Partitioning for experts’.

But - if you like, see what it proposes first, it should look something like this:

mount point for Vista recovery
mount point for Vista
Create Extended Partition (this will be the total size of your free space)
create swap partition /dev/sda? 1GB?
create root partition /dev/sda? 20GB?
create home partition /dev/sda? 50GB?

The extended partition is really just like a container for the items underneath it.

You might find it helpful to look at this
NEWBIES - Suse-11.1 Pre-installation – PLEASE READ - openSUSE Forums

Consider making a backup of your important data, especially if you don’t have recovery disks (recovery partitions are about as much use as a chocolate fire guard).

Also, there is that partitioning app in Vista… if you can find it. It took me about 27 steps to find it, so I won’t try to tell you from memory. However, it is reported to be “safer” to shrink the Vista partition with its own tool. There is a command line tool in Vista (I think it is Diskpart - better google it) that will do the shrink. It gave me the same estimate trying both the GUI and command line.

I was not happy with the shrink proposed. It left a lot more room for Vista than I wanted. Clean out the junk and do a defrag before you attempt a shrink.

Also worth to note to those coming from Windows, if you’re trying to prevent your OS from using the harddisk it’s common practice under windows to disable the swapfile as it’s used before the RAM is even near full. (Vista does handle this a lot better than XP)

You don’t need to resort to this under openSUSE, it wont use the swapfile if it’s not needed, so you have nothing to lose creating a swap partition (aside from 1GB (or whatever you set it to) diskspace.

Maybe this will help out.

Link to Install Pics and Video:
Install Demo - With Pics and Video - openSUSE Forums

Thank you everybody for the instructions regarding the partioning,i tried to be as accurate as i could be ,despite my lack of knowledge and experties,after defraging my toshiba’s HD ,i started the installation of opensuse11.1 the DVD version ,everything went smooth including partioning and the rest of the stuff and after all i ended having opensuse 11.1 alongside the windows vista on toshiba laptop u305.the happiness only last one day and after installing the updates and network and printer and desktop config.i was asked by the system to restart ,and that’s when i had nothing,no picture ,no sound, and then when i started to do some repairs on my own ,received as follows;

1-when shut down and restart ,a blank screen with a blinking thing on the top left corner,which i don’t know what to do after fact i have not much options ,no matter what i do,it does not respond and keeps blinking.

2-when i boot from the original DVD,i get several options is :RESCUE THE SYSTEM, when i choose that one ,at some point, asking for logging info ,when i put the user name and the password (this part is blank),i receive ,WRONG LOGGING INFO AND STARTS TO BLINK AGAIN AND AGAIN.

3-another option in boot from dvd is “fail safe …” , when i pick that one ,after showing some process,the system asks for logging info ,when i put the username and the password (blank),it says have fun and then again below that starts to blink and wait for something else ,and it never starts the desktop or any other keeps blinking.

4-when i choose repair the system,it starts some kind different process’ and after showing that some files are corrupted and asks for repair and so on it tells the system was repaired successfuly and it will restart now ,but after restarting the same process starts all over again ,like nothing ever happened.

now,please somebody just tell me how to uninstall opensuse from my laptop and just keep the vista ,because i donot want to lose the windows data ,well the main point is ,if i had any screen ,on hard drive booting ,i probably would be able to do something ,but as i said before ,in hard drive booting all i get is a blinkig small thing on the top left corner.

thanks again.

It sounds like you have a problem with the x-window system.
When you choose the failsafe option, login as root and then type sax2 and enter.
This should set up your display. When you are done, exit and you should be able to get to a gui by typing startx.
If all goes well you should be able to reboot and start normally.
Another thing you can do is to check the messages that appear when you boot. Press esc to get rid of the splash screen on boot and check for errors.

Hi ,after i type sax2 and click enter ,nothing happens.The screen still remains the same as it was before with a small blinking thing ,waiting for something or some other info besides my login info to be entered.

BTW,when you say ,login as root ,what you mean by that,i only have one set of login user name and one password that i use for logging in.



I don’t think you lost any of your Vista data. It sounds like you may have a grub problem. When you did the install, did you tell it to boot from the MBR? Vista wants it that way, but suse defaults to having it boot from the suse partition. That problem could be fixed by inserting the DVD and doing a reinstall and picking Boot from MBR when you have the chance.

You may have to fix the Vista MBR. That also is easy if you have the Vista CD. Search the forums for the many threads on multibooting with Vista.

Did you check out swerdna’s page on multibooting? That has gotten many people, including me, out of trouble. The instructions for suse 11.0 will work on 11.1 just as well.

how do i tell grub to install to hdd2 cos i need to!!!

Maybe this will help
Install Demo - With Pics and Video - openSUSE Forums

what if i have a brandnew drive

does opensuse make some suggestions to me during the installation?

Same you just don’t have to deal with another OS

swap 1 to 2 x memory ( depends on total memory and if you are going to hibernate)
root if ext4 20-30 gig if BTRFS 40-50 gig (note if BTRFS then you may want an additional 500 meg boot partitions mounted as /boot)
home any amount you want up to the rest of the drive

Note: that if youhave specail need like you are going to manage a web server or a large data base you may want additional partitions for that data to separate it from the system
Also note that if you are planing encrypted system you will want
separate boot partition about 500 meg and a single LVM container for rest of drive with swap/root/home as above

In addition to the above if you are booting EFI you will want a small FAT formatted partition 100 meg or less to hold the EFI boot code. This is mounted as /boot/efi
If you boot the install device in EFI mode there should be one by default also you will use grub2-efi

If you don’t need anything fancy just starting with a totally empty disk and booting to the correct mode you want to install to the installer should give you a reasonable setup The default will be BTRFS root and XFS home

On Wed, 31 Dec 2014 16:46:01 +0000, dilbertone wrote:

> what if i have a brandnew drive
> does opensuse make some suggestions to me during the installation?

Yes. The partitioning proposal is made regardless of whether the drive
is completely blank or has another OS on it.


Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Administrator
Forum Use Terms & Conditions at

On Ubuntu/Linux Mint setup, I use this partitioning setup:
/efi - 210mb
/ - 50gb (ext4)
SWAP - 4gb
/home - 600+gb (ext4)

Can I setup my partitioning scheme like this on openSUSE? Or will there be changes on partitions? I also would want to use BTRFS on / and XFS on /home as I think this should be default on openSUSE.

That looks fine

and BTRFS XFS are defaults but of course you can chose what you wnat