What to do before installing Linux on a PC having the "other" OS

Discussion in 'all things UNIX' started by vasa1, Nov 20, 2011.

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  1. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

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    It seems to be taken for granted that only the proverbial rocket scientists use Linux and hence no preparatory advice is needed.

    But, apart from backing up one's data, what advice can be offered so that people have a good experience even without being well qualified in the esoteric art of partition management?

    I hope experts, if they condescend to participate, don't ruin this thread with hifalutin, scary stuff! Like they occasionally do ;)
     
  2. kjdemuth

    kjdemuth Registered Member

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    Oh great! I was hoping that a thread like this was going to open up. I need help!. I'm one of those retarded windows users that don't know how to partition a HD. I allocated 20gb from the 40GB free space I had left on my HD. I tried to install zorin on it and it gave me some sort of error and wouldn't install. I think it said it was a SDA4 partition? Not really sure what that means though. I'm trying to dual boot with windows 7 premium 32bit. Just in case that helps.
     
  3. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

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    My noob advice is to back off and get advice! It is possible to damage a hard disk by doing the wrong things.

    Even though experts feel it is trivial to "use the Linux" offer to partition (or customize the install) at the time of installation, I'd go for the "automatic" side-by-side install.

    Even though it's obvious, before installing a Linux OS side by side with Windows (dual boot), we should first clean up the hard disk by defragmenting it. Then, ensure that we just have two "drives": the mandatory C drive and another, say D.

    It would be a good idea to have all personal data on D and only the core "Windows" stuff on C.

    Then, depending on the Linux OS, one can run a couple of commands from the LiveCD that will describe your hard disk for "experts" to guide you further. The guidance may require you to go back into Windows and make space "unallocated" as opposed to "free".

    (It's really no skin off my nose and I don't get any commissions) but I'd also recommend staying with a mainstream distro for the first few months at least and not a "knock-off" because:
    • the testing base is larger
    • the documentation more
    • forums generally will most likely already have the answer to what you need
    • you don't really know what tweak is present in the knock-off that may make some documentation inapplicable
     
  4. wat0114

    wat0114 Guest

    Mrkvonic provides an excellent GParted tutorial here.
     
  5. mack_guy911

    mack_guy911 Registered Member

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    best advice

    1. backup

    2. make a blueprint (do and don’t plan) of what you trying to achieve .....example : dual boot .....etc

    3. seek advice feel free to ask questions even small ones

    4. read Linux tutorials in free time :D

    specially from Professional sites like http://www.dedoimedo.com/

    5. use youtube type sites to learn Linux specially newbie there so much you found 80-90 % basic thing already post in youtube by someone :rolleyes:

    6. keep open mind when using Linux ie..................Linux is not VS windows ..............Linux is not windows or Linux is not better/worst than windows

    every OS has its strength and weakness Linux does its

    7. what i do usually do is make only Linux needed partitions rest i make fat 32 and save my most of data in them....... so i can access them from windows and live CD as other Linux distro and second advantage is in case i want another Linux i just shift my data and squeeze fat 32 partition its less risky

    8. if you have additional hardisk or can afford its best to have Linux on separate hardisk on desktop.

    9. Always keep handy partimagic type cd handy they run is very less ram and have many tools in case of recovering data.

    10. every os breaks no matter how best they are .....................so keep your backup and recovery plans ready use clonezilla type ........if you can .................

    11. if things don’t work relax don’t frustrate don’t tress too much leave it try next day with fresh mood 90% it will work.

    12. try multiboots in case one don’t work switch to another give time to resolve instead of getting frustrated.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
  6. kjdemuth

    kjdemuth Registered Member

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    Thanks for the info guys (or gals). I effectively made a partition from my free space. It is unallocated and I'm waiting to install a distro on it. I'm thinking of trying out bodhi first. I tried installing zorin 5 but for some reason it didn't take. Thanks again for all the support.
     
  7. scott1256ca

    scott1256ca Registered Member

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    I, for one, can't stand grub for dual booting.

    I don't like being asked which OS I want to boot into and waiting 30 sec for a default.
    I REALLY don't like that if I have a problem with windows and have to reinstall the MBR I lose linux (until I figure out how to restore grub).

    So quite a while ago, I decided it was MUCH better to install linux on a separate disk with its own MBR. Linux minus user data is quite small. I'm using mint 10.10 and have 25G allocated to linux 13G of which is allocated to user data 8G of which is unused. 6.5G is allocated to root and < 5G is used. The rest is swap. So I could have used 5G less to /home and still not have complaints about running out of disk space. Everything else on this computer is NTFS so that Windows can read it.

    So my advice, get hold of a small cheap drive and install on that. When I installed linux, I pulled the drive which booted Windows to ensure that I didn't accidently overwrite the MBR (I've made that mistake in the past).
    Then to boot, if I want to boot linux, I select the drive from the bios boot menu or let the default boot to Windows. If I ever have to fix windows (or linux) I don't have to worry about grub. Others may find this cumbersome, but for me, it is trivial to keep it straight in my head and I prefer it.

    If you already have a 2nd drive with no OS on it, and you don't have enough space to back up, move as much as you can to your Windows disk, in order of importance, so that you can afford to lose the only things left on your 2nd drive. If you can't afford to lose anything, buy another drive. Once done, start by using one of the better defraggers in windows on the drive you will install linux on.

    I created a live cd of gparted, since I preferred not to go through the beginnings of the linux install before getting to it. Gparted does a good job of moving data around to create space. It has never lost data on me. In fact I always use it to format NTFS partitions.

    There is some default in windows for formatting NTFS, which I can't quite remember. It has something to do with spanning drives. If your drives were formatted with that option, gparted can't deal with it. At least it couldn't 2 or 3 years ago. So be forwarned that gparted may fail to move the data around on your drive and you'll be forced to either reformat it or get a new one.

    In short pull your windows drive, install on a 2nd drive with non-critical data. Keep your partitions small (5G swap is lots you could get away with much less) 10G is lots for the linux '/' partition (this is where the OS and applications get installed) and '/home' (your users data) can have all the rest you can afford. You can always mount all your other NTFS partitions and use them for data, so even /home doesn't have to be very large.


    Note: I edited this to make it a little more clear about the MBR.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
  8. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    You can change the default wait time.
    You can press enter.
    Mrk
     
  9. wat0114

    wat0114 Guest

    If using Vista or 7, you can install Grub 2 on the Linux root partition and use EasyBCD to add it to the Windows boot menu, have Windows first in the boot order and set the boot timeout to whatever you want.
     
  10. Baserk

    Baserk Registered Member

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    What to do before installing Linux?

    Choose a distro(=linux OS version), download and burn it, boot from it and see if you like it and whether it works fine (screen resolution, wifi etc; basic functionality).
    Read up on the user manual and especially the install part and see if the explanation is understandable for you.
    If not, make sure to read/ask further before starting with the install.
    Remember that linux isn't necessarily difficult, it's just different than what you've learned and are used to so far.

    F.i. the different terminology; In Windows you install the OS on the 'drive' and the OS will be put on 'C'.
    In linux, the drive is named either SDA or HDA and the OS will be put on the first partition; on SDA1 or HDA1; it's just a different naming convention than what you're used to.
    My advice is to start with a really friendly linux version like Linux Mint.
    The distro is made to be newbie-friendly, the forum is newbie-friendly and most of the time/99%, Linux Mint just works.
    Read up on http://www.dedoimedo.com/ (website from Wilders' linux guru Mrkvonic) for an enthusiastic review and check out other articles, there's a lot to read&learn there.

    My advice boils down to;
    - read 'Linux is not Windows' link
    - read Dedoimedo Mint review link (version 11 named Katya)
    - then download, burn and boot Mint 11 'Katya' link
    - read the Linux Mint user manual link (at least partially) before installing.

    Most of all, remember that linux isn't more difficult than Windows, it's mostly just different. And fun :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
  11. kjdemuth

    kjdemuth Registered Member

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    Well I do believe that I messed up one of the partition's. I allocated some space and its in front of my NFTS C: drive that windows is parked on. I tried merge and move the unallocated partition but I've been unable to so far. I've been using partition master and Win 7 disk manager. No luck so far. I might have to backup some of my files and programs and do a clean wipe and start over.
     
  12. Baserk

    Baserk Registered Member

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    ^If it's a small 100 MB partition, it's made by Win7 at install and shouldn't be removed/merged.
    Just see if you can boot up Win7. If so, no worries.
     
  13. kjdemuth

    kjdemuth Registered Member

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    Nah its about 15gb. I had resized my partition that windows was on to use it for one of my distro's. Now that I removed the distro I was going to add it back to the windows partition.
     
  14. JConLine

    JConLine Registered Member

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    I think it's a very good idea, before one begins to experiment with partitions, etc, to clone your hard drive. Clonezilla is free and it works well. Once your drive is cloned then you can make changes without losing your Windows installation.

    Jim
     
  15. Kerodo

    Kerodo Registered Member

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    One thing I used to do, which worked very well for me, was to install 2 hard drives, and then use one for Win and one for Linux, and boot off whichever I wanted. That's by far the easiest way to keep things clean and separate, and to avoid all the partitioning fuss.

    But given that both have to reside on one disk, I'd definitely recommend imaging first also. That's very wise....
     
  16. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

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    Scott, but won't most beginners to Linux intending to move from Windows want to install Linux on a PC that has just one drive since most PCs come with just the one hard drive? Asking people to go by the another drive route is kind of raising the entry barrier a bit or substantially depending on how competent the person is.
     
  17. pabrate

    pabrate Registered Member

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    If you have one drive only, then it's better to shrink the volume (partition) from Windows, when it's done shrinking (resizing) leave that space as it is (unallocated) , then launch linux setup , it will automatically choose to install there on that empty space.
     
  18. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

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    And as far as RTFM goes, there's certainly nothing intrinsically wrong in telling people to read this and that and that but the thing is that one can first get started using Linux with just a few basic precautions and minimal advice and then, depending on the level of interest, read whatever.
     
  19. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

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    Agree. I read somewhere that that's best done with the default utility present in Windows (Admin section of Control Panel?) followed by a reboot into Windows to make sure all is well and then the Linux install. A person new to Linux should just be able to install alongside. It's a pity that the preparatory work of having not more than a certain number of partitions and prepping the hard disk before installation is not mentioned on most Linux install pages. I don't know why.
     
  20. scott1256ca

    scott1256ca Registered Member

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    Yes, I could have. I chose not to.
     
  21. mack_guy911

    mack_guy911 Registered Member

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