I'm preparing to do my first installation of Linux alongside Windows. Using information from the Mint manual, and the web guide below, I still have a few questions, in an attempt to avoid as many mishaps as possible.
Here's the guide: http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2011/10/27/dual-boot-ubuntu-11-10-windows-7-on-a-pc-with-2-hard-drives/
Please keep in mind I am a complete and utter novice. I've done plenty of research, but am still learning pretty much everything, including jargon, lol.
Here's a few details on my system configuration:
--Core i7 2630M
--8 GB RAM (ddr3)
--Intel wireless card 6230
--4 HDDs, 2 internal and 2 external, all formatted NTFS
1. Seagate internal 500gb HDD1, 3 partitions in order:
A. 100MB >> "system reserved"; primary/active & boot for Windows
B. 100GB >> WIndows 7; primary/system
C. 365GB >> Windows 7 Applications; logical
2. Seagate internal 500gb HDD2, 3 partitions in order:
A. 16MB >> unallocated; logical; can't seem to fix this...again, damn Windows
B. 24.5GB >> extra Windows swap, temp files, a few other things (I call this my "Win7Dump" partition); logical
C. 441GB >> set aside for Linux; primary
3. Hitachi Touro external HDD: 500gb; logical; 1 partition (besides the 6MB at the beginning I can't get rid of, similar to the drive above); used solely for data, Windows libraries, etc
4. Seagate external: 500GB networked drive used only for backups
--Dual boot WIndows7 and Linux Mint. I considered virtual boxing, but I think I'd prefer more RAM to do that, which isn't in the financial cards right now.
--I want Linux to put itself in the specified partition on internal HDD2. This is something not frequently covered in install guides, and is where most of my questions stem from.
--I will unhook all external drives during installation to reduce confusion.
Here are my questions:
1. Prior to installing Mint, should I reformat the current partition I've set aside from NTFS to ext4? ext3? I've read conflicting information on partitioning/file system formatting a drive prior to a Linux installation, rather than during.
2. If the above partition is reformatted in a Linux-preferred file format, and is empty, will Mint "want" to install itself there?
3. I want to install Mint "alongside" Windows, but it's my understanding that I won't be able to achieve this in my desired manner by choosing this option when installing. I will have to choose the "advanced" install option. Correct?
4. I plan on using the Mint manual and the aforementioned guide to do my installation. However, neither cover installing to a particular partition on a second HDD. To do this, would I essentially just select the partition on /dev/sdb that is the correct size (441GB)?
5. It is also my understanding that unlike Windows, Mint "must" have a few partitions and I will have to define these when I select this option. I assume that /boot, /, and swap are mandatory. Is /home mandatory? I really like to keep my data all together on the Hitachi external drive. Is this not possible with Linux? Or, may I just save any data files to the external drive, rather than /home?
6. Generally more partitions slow down a drive. Will this be creating too many partitions, for Linux + Windows swap + the unallocated portion at the beginning of the drive?
7. Should I select the same drive (partition?) for GRUB installation? I assume that then I will have to change the boot drive order in the BIOS to this drive, rather than the Windows drive, which it is currently?
8. Or, for a novice, used to Windows, would it be smarter to use the EasyBCD method mentioned in the article?
I know that is alot of questions, so I really appreciate anyone that can take the time to answer. If I have overlooked anything, please give me a heads up to that, as well
As a suggestion for the Mint team, it would be really great to have the option to install alongside a current OS, while still being able to chose the desired HDD and partition location of the install. Having to do it all manually, as a novice, when still trying to get used to what "/" and "sdb" means in Linux-lingo is a bit nerve-racking, lol!