Help: I feel like a noob!

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Help: I feel like a noob!

Postby telenux on Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:22 pm

I feel really ashamed and embarrassed besides puzzled that I don't know the answer to my current issue.

I doubt I can figure it out via google as I'd usually try and how we, as Linux users, often do to solve our problems! :D

Anyway, I don't want to waste your time or mine with much more rambling on.

I have a messed up partition configuration of several ext3 partitions and two NTFS partitions. I was using my Kubuntu partition Gparted to inspect my partitions. I want to redo the entire thing and try Mint on a partition. I will be buying a large capacity storage drive for my Windows crap so it will be formatted NTFS when I get it. I already have two storage drives formatted ext3. The storage drive for Windows files will be shared so that is why I need a storage drive for Windows stuff.

The problem is I have some data on these partitions I wanted to keep so I'm doing some juggling. I will install Windows 7 on one of my OS drives (I have two) when I copy/move data files over. I have some allocated space so I was going to temporarily create an NTFS partition. Except, when I used GParted, I could not format any of the partitions to NTFS. It's greyed out. Huh?!?

i had a Mint 10 liveCD lying around so I decided to try it to see if it's the same situation. My Kubuntu install is old so it's not updated and it's using an old kernel and old packages. The Mint 10 LiveCD boots up and it seems to indicate I could format any of the partitions to NTFS. I understand I can only have four primary partitions but some of these partitions created were from an extended partition so I should be able to format any of the logical partitions to ntfs, right?

I am a bit confused and I was wondering what is going on! :D I feel so noob right now! Hypothetically, could I really format any of those logical partitions to NTFS? I have some linux partitions that I already saved the data on them to my storage drive (ext3) so I wanted to make some room for a NTFS partition in order to copy data to it. I don't know any other way since my configuration is a mess. The problem is the new hard drive needs Windows 7 for the partition alignment as it's one of those drives.

If I didn't confuse you so far, if you realize what's going on, please share! I was going to have one drive with Windows and the slightly larger drive with Linux. I hope that will avoid this annoying 'mix' of partitions and then I'll have storage drives with either NTFS or the Linux file format ext3/ext4 for storing data. That way, whoever wants to use Windows and wishes to access the Windows files can use the 'windows storage drive.'

I hope I made some sense. I should have had the storage solution already set up as I wouldn't need to do any of this juggling now. :wink:

I could probably solve it faster by having someone format the new storage drive from their Windows 7 OS and then move/copy my data to it. I wanted to do everything myself, though, so it means having Windows 7 installed on a current drive first. I might do it the easy way but I was still curious why the LiveCD had all of the GParted options but not the Gparted of my Kubuntu install.
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Re: Help: I feel like a noob!

Postby wayne128 on Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:12 pm

As you are getting a new drive, and you do not like some partitions on old drive, just do what you like to partition your new drive, then you will become happier

You can format any logical partition to any format that gparted supports, including NTFS

You can have win 7 installation with NTFS and multi boot many Linux and share NTFS partition with Linux and Win7. Linux can read and write onto NTFS partition.
If you have files on your Linux ext3 that you want to save, just copy it to the NTFS partition.

Regarding Kubuntu gparted not allowing formating on NTFS, that is strange. May be old revision?? You can boot up Kubuntu on live cd, check gparted revision , compared with Mint's gparted. Also, you should be able to install new gparted when you are still on Kubuntu by sudo apt-get install gparted, then run it again to see if the NTFS is grey out. By right it should not be.
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Re: Help: I feel like a noob!

Postby jesica on Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:28 am

if you like the terminal you can use more that just gparted

Linux had for the last 2 years no problems with NTFS

get a small ext hard drive, back up the files you want, get one big hard drive, and install linux and windows on one disk
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Re: Help: I feel like a noob!

Postby telenux on Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:25 am

Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, the distros installed are older, outdated now as they weren't updated. I had to loan my computer to a relative as their computer died and I'm a nice guy! lol!

I dual boot Windows or need it from time to time so I have this dilemma of two hard drives with Windows stuff on both drives with data I wanted to keep. A new, large capacity hard drive will help solve this problem but the problem escalates a bit because the cheapest drives are those WD Green drives with the screwy alignment issue. I was going to format it with Windows 7 but since it's not installed yet, I have the option of borrowing someone's Windows 7 machine or juggling my drives and installing Windows 7 on one and then formatting the new storage drive. Confused? ;)

Both drives have Windows/Linux and my data on the Linux partitions are already backed up or copied onto a storage drive that is formatted ext3.

I decided to keep things simple and I will just format the new drive when I buy it so I'll just find someone with Windows 7 on their machine to do so.

The thing about dual booting is that I have found in the past this setup eventually becomes a pain. Is there any pros or advantages to having Linux and Windows on separate drives because I like this idea so if there is some reason not to, please explain.

If they're on separate drives, the partitions are a simple set up.... they're all the same file format and even though Grub2 can handle the booting of both drives, there is probably less concern about mucking up partitions because of the other OS.
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Re: Help: I feel like a noob!

Postby sgosnell on Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:33 pm

Booting from different drives is no more difficult than booting from different partitions. If these are both internal drives, you can put Windows on one drive and Linux on the other, putting grub on the Linux drive only, and when you boot, you'll need to press Esc at the BIOS screen to select the drive you want to boot from. You should be able to set the first boot drive in the BIOS, and then that drive will boot automatically if you don't press Esc. You can make either drive the default. You can also go into the BIOS at each boot to reset the first boot drive, but that's a lot of hassle. Most newer computers should respond to either Esc or another key, depending on the BIOS. My wife's laptop needs F12, for example, and you need to check the computer for the actual keypress required to bring up the boot manager.
Asus eee-pc 900 w/ 32GB SSD.
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Re: Help: I feel like a noob!

Postby pythagorean on Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:49 pm

The reason your partition is greyed out in GPARTED is that you have it MOUNTED. UNmount it. GParted will then let you change it and work with it. This is unlike how the Windows 7 disk utility works, where you can change a volume while you are using it (e.g. in Windows 7 you just click "shrink volume" and you shrink the very partition your Windows 7 is on while it is running).
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Re: Help: I feel like a noob!

Postby telenux on Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:41 pm

pythagorean wrote:The reason your partition is greyed out in GPARTED is that you have it MOUNTED. UNmount it. GParted will then let you change it and work with it. This is unlike how the Windows 7 disk utility works, where you can change a volume while you are using it (e.g. in Windows 7 you just click "shrink volume" and you shrink the very partition your Windows 7 is on while it is running).

That's what I originally thought but I couldn't unmount it. I couldn't do anything.

I'll re-check but I was pretty sure I checked for that.

At least, the live cd distros I tried allowed me to access them and format it NTFS if I wanted. There is one drive that has utilized all four primary partitions so there's a bit of a dilemma/chore with that drive.

I'm not sure if this project is what I want, though. If I clarify the one 'Linux drive' as the primary or first drive and it'll have Grub so I can boot up the Windows drive from that?

If not, I might just go with a 'one drive with all' system and use the larger drive as another storage drive or something. I'm not sure I want to switch drives if it requires switching via the BIOS each time.

That's how it is now, though, so you guys could be right on that. I have Linux/Windows on the other drive but I need to go into the BIOS and choose the 'main' one.

The other drive I was using was another 'Windows/Linux' partitioned system but it was ALSO screwed up so instead of fixing the problem I went out and bought another drive when they all went really cheap! LOL!

currently used drive: 320GB - Windows (2 partitions - 20GB / 20GB) and Linux 20GB x 5 partitions/distros and unallocated space I can't use - long story....

"2nd drive:" 500GB - Hitachi drive - older and didn't want to use this as a storage drive but might have to? I think it has the extra platter and was wondering what to do when I thought of having Windows and Linux booted on separate drives.

However, maybe I might use the 320GB and boot both Windows 7 and Linux on them and then use the 500GB for 'Windows storage' and format NTFS....I dunno, now...

Problem is there is data on both so another HDD would mean I can put the data on it and then format either smaller drive to whatever format and do whatever.

Any suggestions?

Edit: what about the 320GB HDD as Windows 7 and give it a good chunk and then have the rest dedicated to Linux and use a 'stable' install in which I don't touch much?

Then use the 500GB HDD to a 'Linux project' and I can install extra OS's on it including VirtualBox? Something like that? It's just that, if switching requires going into the BIOS, won't I be inclined not to bother much with switching over to the other? I think that is why lots of people buy the solid state drives so it's so fast and easy to switch?
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Re: Help: I feel like a noob!

Postby sgosnell on Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:40 pm

Solid state drives don't make anything any easier, they're just another drive. It makes no difference whether the drive has spinning magnetic platters or flash memory for this.

You shouldn't have to go into the BIOS to change the boot drive, that should be available from one keystroke at boot time. If your computer won't allow this, it may be time to look at a newer model, or at least a newer motherboard, depending on what you're using.
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Re: Help: I feel like a noob!

Postby wayne128 on Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:45 pm

Well, I read your posts a few times in order to understand what actually trouble you.
Here is my summary of what I guessed:
1. Having a drive that is stuck with 4 primary partitions
2. Worried over dual boot and some associated problems
3. Having some difficulty deciding where to place data, NTFS or ext3?
4. Not sure of what is a good partition scheme.
5. Perhaps, worried about losing some data?
But really some of the data are actually available in internet and can retrieve easily , just need some time downloading.

As you are the owner of your computers and your hard disk, you can do what you want on them.
One issue I eventually found is, it took a while to understand the boot loader, their behaviors when there is a change such as adding a partition, deleting a partition, adding a new OS, upgrading existing OS, windows start up and wants to repair its file system, Linux OS wants to repair its file system, etc.
What then is required of me? learn how to repair MBR using Grub or Grub2, that is all.

Each person needs to take sometime overcoming the above issues.
I had my share of all those issues when I started learning Linux.
But Linux OS is free and meant to be enjoyable, with a 'freedom feeling' after using it. definitely not to become 'troubled'.

There are many ways to get around your 'issues'. I believe you need to overcome is:
a. to be familiar on Linux and boot loader
b. to tell yourself it is alright to lose some data since you can get them from internet, you probably need to decide what are 'real important data' that you MUST keep, then just keep them elsewhere ( not with this computer, keep them on DVD, USB stick, USB drive, whatever). This will free you from being worried about data lost.
c. to learn one workable, simple partition scheme that is also not limited by the 4 primary partition.
There are many workable schemes, but you probably just need one simple scheme that can easily be learned and practised.

Here are just from my experience:
a. On boot loader, there are many of them, some works on Windows, such as EasyBCD, some works on Linux such as the famous modern Grub2 (version 1.97/1.98) or its older mature version Grub legacy (version 0.97). I personally used Grub legacy more on most computers and can memorise how to repair MBR on a few commands, there are:
find /boot/grub/stage2
root (hdx,y)
setup (hdx)
for MBR on disk x and setup (hdx,y) for disk x and partition y.
quit
Of course it is your choice on which boot loader to use. I told myself I must learn Linux that is why I use Grub, it is capable of booting any OS ( windows, Linux, BSD,,, I did not learn OSX yet).

b. On data, if you are still feel 'stuck' with current situation, you can always buy one USB drive, 500G to 640G and use it to back up everything, then you are free from format the two internal drives and start from fresh!!.
Cost of USB drive is very low, that could get you off your worry very fast.
But if buying USB drive is an issue, then you can also juggle the two internal drives, copy all data to second drive, then clean up first drive , start from fresh, use a simple partition scheme, get familiarize with boot loader, then when you get comfortable on this first drive, you are ready for doing similar thing on second drive. But please do this one step at a time.

c. On partition scheme:
To check your partition layout and details, you can type sudo fdisk -l on terminal and check yourself, if you are not familiar what to check, you can copy the results and post in forum for others to see and comment.
Here I can share with you on how two of my hard disk's partitions, using fdisk -l:

First drive: 640G, you will see FAT16/NTFS partitions which are Win7 boot loader, Win7 OS and data and all these three are primary partitions. You then see extended partition /dev/sda4 that contains many more Linux partition starting /dev/sda5, which is a Swap, following by /dev/sda6 to 12, each of these partition contain one Linux OS.

Disk /dev/sda: 640.1 GB, 640135028736 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 77825 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x98000000

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 * 1 12 96358+ 6 FAT16
/dev/sda2 13 1110 8818795 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda3 1111 36806 286720000 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda4 36806 63526 214629460 5 Extended
/dev/sda5 36806 37201 3173896+ 82 Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda6 37202 39126 15461035 83 Linux
/dev/sda7 39127 41051 15462531 83 Linux
/dev/sda8 41052 43014 15767766 83 Linux
/dev/sda9 43015 44978 15775798+ 83 Linux
/dev/sda10 44979 46954 15872188+ 83 Linux
/dev/sda11 46955 49504 20482843+ 83 Linux
/dev/sda12 * 49505 53377 31109841 83 Linux


Second drive: This one has three Linux Primary partitions plus extended partition at /dev/sdb4.
Take a look at /dev/sdb11, it is a large NTFS data partition for sharing with windows OS and any Linux OS

Disk /dev/sdb: 640.1 GB, 640135028736 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 77825 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x6e6824b4

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sdb1 * 1 3825 30724281 83 Linux
/dev/sdb2 3826 4080 2048287+ 82 Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sdb3 4081 7904 30716280 83 Linux
/dev/sdb4 7905 49466 333846734+ 5 Extended
/dev/sdb5 7905 10454 20482843+ 83 Linux
/dev/sdb6 10455 13004 20482843+ 83 Linux
/dev/sdb7 13005 15554 20482843+ 83 Linux
/dev/sdb8 15555 18104 20482843+ 83 Linux
/dev/sdb9 18105 20654 20482843+ 83 Linux
/dev/sdb10 20655 23204 20482843+ 83 Linux
/dev/sdb11 23205 48701 204804621 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sdb12 48702 48956 2048256 83 Linux



To end this long post, I hope you can overcome your current feeling of stuck at somewhere and take some actions to breakout of the loop
Good luck
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