Replace existing linux system


I have a windows 7 system dual booted with kubuntu kde 11.04 (Bootloader - Grub). I have a belief that suse kde is better than kubuntu kde. I want to replace only the existing linux system(There is an option to do this in *ubuntu installers) and retain the /home and the windows 7 partition. Can I do that?

Thank you.

As far as I can tell, there is no automatic replacement of your existing Linux system as a menu option. Also, openSUSE uses grub legacy and not grub2. I think you would have to select a manual partitioning mode to get what you want. You can mount an existing /home partition by selecting its mount point as /home and not formatting it. Likewise, you can elect to load the main part of openSUSE to / and elect to format it, which would wipe out the existing linux installation. You can mount and or reformat any existing SWAP partition. The grub boot loader needs to be installed into either the MBR or into the openSUSE partition, when it is loaded into partitions 1, 2, 3 or 4. To load and “boot” openSUSE from a partition numbered 5 or higher, Grub must be loaded into the MBR. Here is some more information on Partitions in openSUSE:

Each hard drive can have up to four PRIMARY partitions, any of which could be marked active and bootable. No matter what you might hear, only one of the first four primary partitions can be booted from. That means you can boot from Primary partitions 1, 2, 3 or 4 and that is all. In order to boot openSUSE, you must load openSUSE and the grub boot loader into one of the first four partitions. Or, your second choice is to load the grub boot loader into the MBR (Master Boot Record) at the start of the disk. The MBR can be blank, like a new disk, it can contain a Windows partition booting code or generic booting code to boot the active partition 1, 2, 3, or 4. Or, as stated before, it can contain the grub boot loader. Why load grub into the MBR then? You do this so that you can “boot” openSUSE from a logical partition, numbered 5 or higher, which is not normally possible. In order to have more than four partitions, one of them (and only one can be assigned as extended) must be a extended partition. It is called an Extended Primary Partition, a container partition, it can be any one of the first four and it can contain one or more logical partitions within. Anytime you see partition numbers 5, 6 or higher for instance, they can only occur inside of the one and only Extended Primary partition you could have.

What does openSUSE want as far as partitions? It needs at minimum a SWAP partition and a “/” partition where all of your software is loaded. Further, it is recommended you create a separate /home partition, which makes it easier to upgrade or reload openSUSE without losing all of your settings. So, that is three more partitions you must add to what you have now. What must you do to load and boot openSUSE from an external hard drive? Number one, you must be able to select your external hard drive as the boot drive in your BIOS setup. Number two, you need to make sure that the external hard drive, perhaps /dev/sdb, is listed as the first hard drive in your grub file and listed as drive hd0. I always suggest that you do not load grub into the MBR, but rather into the openSUSE “/” root primary partition which means a primary number of 1, 2, 3 or 4. If number one is used, then that will be out. You will mark the openSUSE partition as active for booting and finally you must load generic booting code into the MBR so that it will boot the openSUSE partition. I suggest a partition like this:

  1. /dev/sda, Load MBR with generic booting code
  2. /dev/sda1, Primary NTFS Partition for Windows
  3. /dev/sda2, Primary SWAP (4 GB)
  4. /dev/sda3, Primary EXT4 “/” openSUSE Partition Marked Active for booting (80-120 GB)
  5. /dev/sda4, Primary EXT4 “/home” Your main home directory (Rest of the disk)

Consider that I do not know your existing partition setup and the fact that Windows 7 can contain two partitions and not just one. Consider that some computers can have a third partition as a restore partition. Finally, if you have not yet updated WIndows 7 with Service Pack 1, this might be the time to attempt that before you install openSUSE. I have a thread on that subject here:

openSUSE Dual Booting with Windows 7 AND Loading Service Pack 1 for Windows 7

Thank You,

I have seen many complaints about 11.04, but they were mostly complaints about unity (rather than KDE). Some were complaints that the release was premature and still of beta quality.

When I install a new opensuse over an old one, there is a choice on the partitioning screen to import the partitioning from a prior system. If that possibility is available, then it will do most of what you want. However, I’m not sure if it will be available. It depends on whether the opensuse installer finds grub first, and locates the root partition from the grub parameters, or whether it checks every linux partition to see if it is a root partition (has the file “/etc/fstab” for example).

If you are not given that option, you will have to do some manual partitioning.

When I do manual partitioning with the opensuse installer, I usually find it easier to let the installer suggest a partitioning, and then edit that selection. If you try that, and editing it looks hopeless, you can back out of it (hit the “previous” button), and then try again where you manually select the partitioning yourself. Note that nothing is actually changed on disk until after you have completed the partitioning options and the software selection options, and then clicked “install”.

The main issue is whether you have a separate /home partition; AFAIK Ubuntu now supports this. If so, when you get to the partitioning options in openSUSE, go into Expert/Custom mode and tell the installer that you want to overwrite the Ubuntu / partition (if it hasn’t already suggested this anyway); also select enabling boot and the MBR and openSUSE will overwrite Grub2 with grub legacy automatically (because it will have wiped part of Grub2 from the Ubuntu / partition already).

If you don’t have a /home partition, you will have to back this up first.

All your KDE settings are on the /home partition - so you should have a painless upgrade of your KDE software.