Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

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Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby Amblyomma on Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:36 pm

I'm currently running Ubuntu 11.3 along side Vista on a Dell XPS M1530 Core 2 Duo with 4GB RAM. I'm getting ready to upgrade the HDD to a Seagate Momentus XT 500GB with integrated 4GB SSD and install Win 8 and Mint. I switch back and forth constantly, and I'm constantly having problems leaving files that I need on the other OS partition. So with this upgrade I'd like to set up a dedicated data partition that is accessed by both OSs. I know the shared partition needs to be NTFS formatted, and that it's better to install Windows before Linux. However, most guides recommend shrinking an installed Win partition and partitioning the freed space, yet this doesn't take into account the desire for a shared data partition. Wouldn't it make more sense to pre-partition and format the drive, tell Windows what to use as the OS user data partitions, then install Mint on the remaining partition? And if I do that, what exactly should the partition table look like? I have a history of scrambling the various options (MBR location, mount point, etc) when installing Linux unless I'm following a monkey-see-monkey-due kind of guide. :oops:
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby bigj231 on Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:20 pm

You could just have your windows partition automount every time you start Mint. It's not ideal, but you can move stuff back and forth. The way I've outlined below will be easier assuming that you don't have issues with NTFS.
Your best bet is to create 2 NTFS partitions. One for Windows and one for the shared data. Then just do the normal install for Mint. I like having a separate /home partition. Also, use GPT instead of MBR.
You can partition your disks with Gparted from the Mint LiveUSB (seriously, don't use a DVD unless you have to. USB is much faster), install Windows, then install Mint.
There are plenty of tutorials on the web for moving the Windows data folders to a different partition. There are also several for how to do this with Ubuntu/Mint. You can do both of these after install. Just get both of your systems working correctly, then work out your data partitions. Don't put all of your data on the system until you have the shared partition working.

To make it simple, start Gparted from the liveUSB. Make 6 partitions.
1) First partition 1MB. DO NOT FORMAT! Add the "bios_grub" flag. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BIOS_Boot_partition
2) Make 2 NTFS partitions. One for windows, one for your data.
3) Make 2 EXT4 partitions. Set the mount points to '/' and '/home' There are options for this in the pull-down menu.
4) make a SWAP partition (optional, but nice to have sometimes)

You'll have to figure out how large you want each of these partitions. I would make the NTFS data partition the largest (300+ GB). My '/' partition is only 15GB, and I have about 9GB free. When I was doing a SSD/HDD build for someone, I gave windows the whole 60GB SSD, and put all the user data on the HDD. I think Windows 7 only needs about 15GB for the base install, but you will want more room than that. No clue about Windows 8.

I also prefer a straight SSD. TigerDirect has/had a deal on a 240GB SSD for right around $0.50 USD/GB.
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby cwsnyder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:26 pm

I don't know if you have considered this, but if you are 'constantly switching back and forth' between the two operating systems, wouldn't it make more sense to install one of them as a Virtual Machine, so that you would have both environments available without re-booting? If you do that, you only have to worry about partitioning for the host system and setting up the shared data area in a separate partition.
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby altair4 on Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:43 pm

You may not have a choice other than to use cwsnyder's suggestion of VirtualBox.

I don't have Win8 so I don't know if this as a fact but from what I've read it's "instant on" feature means that it shuts down in a hibernated like state so that it can boot faster. But it also means that everything you add to that mounted partition while in linux is lost when Win8 is booted up again because it boots to the state it was in before it's shut down.

EDIT: Here's a better explanation: http://askubuntu.com/questions/211026/c ... witched-on
Mounting it read only seems to be a workaround but sort of defeats the purpose of a shared partition. Or you can turn off this hybrid hibernate "feature".
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby Amblyomma on Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:58 pm

Thanks, bigj. This was exactly the sort of information I was looking for. I'd also prefer a regular SSD, but I have a couple of problems with going that route. Mostly, I can't afford one as large as I need (I only have about $100 to spend on a new drive). I also use my Linux partition primarily for work related, computationally intensive programs that generate 20-50GB of data every couple of hours. That all gets migrated off to other machines or external HDDs once I'm done with a project, but I worry about running out of space and having to do file archiving while I'm in the middle of something. I also worry about constantly writing that volume of data to an SSD, despite the advances made in durability. On my next system I want an OS only SSD and HDD data drive, but this machine is old enough it only has one SATA connection. I'm willing to move the current HDD to the DVD drive bay and add in a SDD, but that would put the HDD on a PATA connection, and I was afraid the HDD speeds would take such a hit it wouldn't be worth the effort. So the Seagate hybrid drive seemed a reasonable compromise. I'm very open to hearing additional opinions on this, though! I've not bought any hardware yet, but would like to within the next few days.

The VB suggestion wasn't one I'd considered, cwsnyder, but it was a reasonable one. I'm under the impression that VB take a bit of a performance hit, though, and I'd like to avoid that since I'm really just trying to eek another 12-18 months out of this starting-to-feel-dated machine.

And thanks for bringing up the hybrid shutdown concern, altair. It wasn't one I'd thought about, but it looks like disabling fastboot will take care of the problem.
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby cwsnyder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:41 pm

Virtual machines don't have to take a performance hit of more than about 5%. There are articles available and even threads on this forum on using Windows in a KVM virtual machine for gaming performance :shock: , so even eking out an old machine depends more on your application and eliminating actual bottlenecks rather than necessarily upgrading your machine. If you are concerned about performance outside of games, though, I would look otherwise than at Windows 8. :lol: Windows 7 was faster than Windows Vista, but I have yet to see any benchmarks showing performance improvements of Win8 over Win7.

As far as Mint performance, using a lighter desktop like LXDE, or Xfce with lighter applications will gain performance over KDE, Cinnamon, or any desktop which requires Compiz or any form of compositing to 'work correctly.'
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby 741cc on Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:37 pm

I've used a Seagate Momentus XT 500GB for the last year and it seems a fine and speedy drive.
You cannot make six partitions on a drive, as stated here, without putting three of them as logical partitions inside an extended one.

You have correctly answered your own question here:-
Wouldn't it make more sense to pre-partition and format the drive, tell Windows what to use as the OS user data partitions, then install Mint on the remaining partition?


Here's my suggestion. Boot with live media and format the drive:-
sda1 ~50GB NTFS Windows
sda2 15GB ext4 Mint
sda3 430GB NTFS Data
sda4 2-4GB swap

Install Windows to sda1.
Use the "Something Else" option to install Mint to sda2 and on the partitioning screen mount sda3 as /data (or /files or whatever). This will auto mount sda3 at /data on boot-up and you can then bookmark it in Nautilus/Nemo to access your stuff from either OS.
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby Amblyomma on Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:57 pm

Thanks for the input, folks. The holidays have slightly delayed my project. Getting back to it now, I see 741's comment about the 4 partition limit. My understanding is that this is only imposed under MBR, but GPT, which bigj recommended, doesn't impose such limits.
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby altair4 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:35 pm

Amblyomma wrote:I see 741's comment about the 4 partition limit. My understanding is that this is only imposed under MBR, but GPT, which bigj recommended, doesn't impose such limits.

He didn't say there was a 4 partition limit. He said there was a 4 Primary Partition Limit. One of the primary partitions can be designated an Extended Partition and into that can be a number of Logical Partitions.
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby 741cc on Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:16 pm

by Amblyomma
My understanding is that this is only imposed under MBR, but GPT, which bigj recommended, doesn't impose such limits.


From here:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GUID_Partition_Table
If the minimum size of 16,384 bytes is allocated for the partition entry array, and the default size of 128 bytes is used for each partition entry, then the maximum number of partitions is limited to 128.

Apologies for confusing or misleading anyone.

by bigj231
I think Windows 7 only needs about 15GB for the base install, but you will want more room than that. No clue about Windows 8.

I have a spare disk with Win-7 and Win-8 on, both largely "unused". W-7 occupies 26GB and W-8 19GB.
hth
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby srs5694 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:26 pm

Unless the computer is fairly recent (sold in the last 1-1.5 years), chances are it uses BIOS firmware, which means that Windows cannot be installed to a disk that uses GPT -- at least, not without jumping through some very awkward hoops. You can of course check your manual and/or firmware setup options in search of hints of EFI/UEFI support, but I wouldn't count on that support being present. Using an extended partition with logical partitions is a time-honored tradition in multi-boot configurations. Although the solution is a bit of a hack, it's a hack that's survived for 30 years, so clearly it works.
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby Amblyomma on Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:22 am

srs5694 was right - I did the pre-partitioning and formatting of the HDD with gParted as bigj suggested and Win8 wouldn't install because of the GPT table on a BIOS system. I went back into gParted and redid the partition table and put all of the Linux partitions in an extended partition and everything proceeded without a hitch. Didn't realize I really didn't need the 1MB at the beginning when I redid the table, but I think I'll survive that amount of "wasted" space for now. Used Fred's tutorial http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=22093 on setting up the auto-mount of the shared NTFS partition. Smooth sailing so far and exactly the kind of flexibility I wanted, except ...

Every time I switch from Windows to Mint, the boot into Mint hangs. I have to do a hard restart, run the Mint recovery option in GRUB, and tell it to repair file systems. It finds and fixes discrepancies in the time stamp in the NTFS partition (time set to shortly in the future), blames the hardware clock, and lets me reboot into Mint. Mint grumbles a bit about having issues mounting one of the disks during the reboot, gives me the option to cancel (which I take), then allows me to log in normally where (viola!), all of my disks are mounted and function just fine. I tried switching Mint from network time to hardware time, but it hasn't helped. Any suggestions on how to resolve this last little issue?
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Re: Win8/Mint partition tables for shared data partition?

Postby 741cc on Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:54 pm

When you chop your partitions around with gparted, you need to edit /etc/fstab, as root, to accomodate the changes.

For the time issue, assuming the clock is set correctly in the bios, try editing (as root) /etc/default/rcS. Set UTC=no
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