Basic to dynamic disc for multi-boot?

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Basic to dynamic disc for multi-boot?

Postby ektoman on Wed May 08, 2013 3:16 am

Thanks for reading first of all.

As a recent Linux convert, I am attempting to give Mint a try on my home internet Pc which has Windows XP (SP2) installed on it, on a basic volume in computer/disc management. I attempted to create a partition using windows but the option was not available as I have a basic volume (as opposed to a dynamic volume)

As I understand it, it is more stable to start from scratch freshly installing XP and creating a partition from the beginning, leaving the other partition free for Linux when I want to install it.

Or do I have this back to front?

Is there any problem with changing my basic disc to dynamic, creating a partition on half of it and putting Linux on it now?

So just to clarify (you may be able to tell I've had difficulties being understood in forums before) my options are as follows:

a) turn basic system disc (with windows XP installed) into dynamic disc, thereby allowing windows to create a partition. Once partition is created, restart and boot linux from CD. Install on freshly created partition.

b) back up all of my files, format my hard drive, re-install windows but create partitions from the start. Restart and install Linux from CD on the empty partion.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer! :D

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Re: Basic to dynamic disc for multi-boot?

Postby xenopeek on Wed May 08, 2013 4:41 am

Well, I wasn't familiar with that Windows-speak "basic disc vs dynamic disk" but looking it up you do not need to convert to a dynamic disk (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library ... 85%29.aspx).

Both options (a: multi-boot Windows with Linux, and b: single-boot Linux) are options in the Linux Mint installer. So for either option you would first back up your important personal files (better safe than sorry), then boot from the Linux Mint installation DVD / USB stick. One of the first few questions in the installer is about what installation type you want. Options will be to install alongside Windows, replace Windows and use the entire disk, or do something else (for advanced users).

If you choose to install alongside Windows, you will be given the option to resize your Windows partition with a slider to make room for Linux. Recommend you make at least 20 GB available for Linux. It will then resize your Windows partition and create the needed partitions for Linux.

It may be the case that you are not given the option to install alongside Windows, and only to use the entire disk or do something else. That may happen either if you have a RAID setup for your hard disks, or if you have a laptop which was configured by its vendor to make it impossible to install other operating systems. So if you don't get the option to install alongside Windows; don't proceed and report back here for help :wink:

The installer will install a boot manager that will allow you to choose at boot time to either boot Linux or Windows.
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Re: Basic to dynamic disc for multi-boot?

Postby ektoman on Wed May 08, 2013 7:57 am

Thanks xenopeek,

I hadn't figured it was possible to boot from within a windows environment. I'm old fashioned in my thinking that drives need a seperate partition to keep file security and integrity. It's interesting to see technology evolve somewhat.

I installed from within windows and rebooted. I got to the option to select OS's and chose Linux Mint.

Next I was greeted with a small message:

Try (hd0,0) NTFS5:

Then nothing happens.

I don't know what this means but I'd appreciate any thoughts on it before I have to start a new thread to attempt to fix the problem.

Thanks again for clearing up the issue surrounding partitions on windows! Much appreciated.

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Re: Basic to dynamic disc for multi-boot?

Postby xenopeek on Wed May 08, 2013 8:11 am

Oh, I meant you would boot from the Linux Mint installation DVD / USB stick and run the installer from there. You can install from within Windows but it can be a mixed bag of results. And should you later wish to resize your partitions or remove a Windows partition, that will be very, very difficult to do if you installed from inside Windows. I'd say, uninstall Linux Mint from the Windows control panel and then do the installation after booting from the installation DVD / USB stick.
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Re: Basic to dynamic disc for multi-boot?

Postby ektoman on Wed May 08, 2013 8:21 am

Ahhh, Thanks for the clarification.

I will uninstal mint from windows now and attempt to boot it from the DVD.

If I boot from DVD is there any danger of overwriting my windows installation? I was searching for more info but got stuck when it asked my if it could do something to the partition. I didn't find this step in any online guides. I'm not too tech savvy with the linux terms so I just aborted at that point. Is there any particular option here that would ensure I can keep the integrity of my windows installation? My wife would kill me if I erased all her programs as they are set up :lol:
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Re: Basic to dynamic disc for multi-boot?

Postby xenopeek on Wed May 08, 2013 9:09 am

Well, took a bit of searching, but here is a screenshot of somebody installing Linux Mint 14 alongside Windows 7. As you can see, in the "Installation type" step of the installer this user was given the three options I mentioned. (click to zoom)
Image
For you the first option should be to install alongside Windows XP. If you are only given two options, as in the following screenshot, abort the installation and we'll first have to figure out why it won't offer to install alongside Windows XP (for one of the reasons I mentioned).
Image
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Re: Basic to dynamic disc for multi-boot?

Postby srs5694 on Wed May 08, 2013 12:08 pm

I think some critical basic information is being overlooked here, and continuing to do so runs the risk of creating a train wreck. So:

  • Disks are almost always partitioned, meaning that they're broken into one or more chunks, each of which can be managed by a different OS or used to separate storage for a single OS (as in C: and D: partitions in Windows).
  • With the right software, partitions can be moved and resized; however, this activity is always at least a little bit risky.
  • In Windows-speak, "basic disks" are partitions that are created using the normal cross-OS standards -- namely, using a Master Boot Record (MBR) or (on newer computers) a [url=
    [/list]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GUID_Partition_Table]GUID Partition Table (GPT)[/url].
  • In Windows-speak, "dynamic disks" add another layer atop the MBR or GPT data structures. Another term for "dynamic disks" is Logical Disk Manager (LDM). You cannot easily install Linux to a dynamic disk. Thus, the fact that you had problems converting from basic to dynamic disks was fortunate; if you'd succeeded in such a conversion, you would have had to reverse that change in order to install Linux, and this reverse change is harder than converting from basic to dynamic.
  • Under the MBR system, a total of up to four so-called primary partitions are supported. One of these (the extended partition) may hold an arbitrary number of logical partitions. Windows must install to a primary partition, but Linux is more flexible; it's happy living on either primary or logical partitions. The limitation on the number of primary partitions sometimes causes problems when installing Linux, since Windows installations sometimes consume all four primary partitions. In such cases, it's necessary to either delete one of the primary partitions or convert one to logical form. Most partitioning tools don't support such conversion, but my FixParts does, with some caveats. The limit on the number of MBR primary partitions is one reason Microsoft has been pushing LDM; but as LDM is proprietary and extended/logical partitions are not, the latter is a better solution in a multi-OS environment.
  • A conventional Linux installation places Linux on a separate partition from Windows. The Mint installer can shrink a Windows partition to make room for Linux, but if you've already got four partitions, you'll need to make adjustments, as just noted.
  • A variant method of installing Linux is supported by tools like Ubuntu's WUBI and Mint's variant (the name of which eludes me). Under this system, you create a large file in Windows that Linux treats like a partition. You can therefore install Linux without repartitioning. This system isn't as flexible as a regular Linux installation, though, and my vague impression is that this tool is being abandoned by Ubuntu. (I've not been following it all that closely, though.)
  • Adjusting partitions, and especially moving partitions' start points, always poses a risk of data loss. Thus, you should back up your data before performing such activities.

So in sum, ektoman, you should not try to convert your disk to use LDM/dynamic disks. You could install using WUBI (or Mint's equivalent), but I personally don't recommend it unless you just want to try it out without making major changes to your system. A better option is to resize your Windows partition and install Linux side-by-side with Windows, even if this requires making significant changes to your partition table. The Mint installer tries to make such changes easy, but depending on the current setup, it doesn't always succeed. If you run into problems, I recommend booting from a Linux live CD and running the Boot Info Script. The result is a file called RESULTS.txt. Post it here, either as a link or between code tags, so that we can see how your system is partitioned and booting at the moment.
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Re: Basic to dynamic disc for multi-boot?

Postby xenopeek on Wed May 08, 2013 12:19 pm

srs5694, that's exactly the point we are at and is the same advice I gave :)
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Re: Basic to dynamic disc for multi-boot?

Postby ektoman on Wed May 08, 2013 4:43 pm

Thanks xenopeek and srs5694 for your time and thoughts on this issue.

I just want to make things clear as srs's points seems to address some of the problems I'm experiencing:

Discs are almost always partitioned, meaning that they're broken into one or more chunks, each of which can be managed by a different OS or used to separate storage for a single OS (as in C: and D: partitions in Windows).


- I have a single primary partition running my main OS (Win XP SP2). There is no other drive letter that is running from this hard drive, just :C. I installed it this way to make things simple.

With the right software, partitions can be moved and resized; however, this activity is always at least a little bit risky.


- I have found this out, much to my displeasure in the past. I have an old copy of partition manager which I purchased a long time ago when I needed to convert a NTFS disc into FAT for some legacy system I had. I attempted creating a partition using windows first but it doesn't allow the option to modify partitions. I'm not alone in this. I trundled through a few microsoft forums to find a number of users were unable to access the partition wizard from within XP. I then attempted the same within partition manager but the drives need to be 'dynamic' in order to resize them.

In Windows-speak, "dynamic disks" add another layer atop the MBR or GPT data structures. Another term for "dynamic disks" is Logical Disk Manager (LDM). You cannot easily install Linux to a dynamic disk. Thus, the fact that you had problems converting from basic to dynamic disks was fortunate; if you'd succeeded in such a conversion, you would have had to reverse that change in order to install Linux, and this reverse change is harder than converting from basic to dynamic.


- Thanks for this. I didn't actually have any difficulties in converting my basic disc to dynamic, I have just been extremely cautious. I have learnt over the years that modifying system discs is hazardous. However, as I am unable to resize or create a partition using windows or third-party software, the option to use a dynamic disc was one of the few left on the table at the time of writing. Now that you have informed me of the difficulties faced with using dynamic discs, this option is now off the table for good. Which leaves me still wondering - what can I do to make the space available for linux?

Under the MBR system, a total of up to four so-called primary partitions are supported. One of these (the extended partition) may hold an arbitrary number of logical partitions. Windows must install to a primary partition, but Linux is more flexible; it's happy living on either primary or logical partitions. The limitation on the number of primary partitions sometimes causes problems when installing Linux, since Windows installations sometimes consume all four primary partitions. In such cases, it's necessary to either delete one of the primary partitions or convert one to logical form. Most partitioning tools don't support such conversion, but my FixParts does, with some caveats. The limit on the number of MBR primary partitions is one reason Microsoft has been pushing LDM; but as LDM is proprietary and extended/logical partitions are not, the latter is a better solution in a multi-OS environment.


- Great info. So, according to the source, I should be able to create a partition (in fact up to four) The fact that I can't leaves me wondering what kind of frankenstein I have here (I've attempted fixing other's computers before and discovered there was no other way than re-formating the whole system - maybe this is just poetic justice) To understand this comment further see below to my reply to xenopeek. I understand windows 7 is preferable here for a multi OS environment, but I found that most of my programs didn't work using Wn 7 and I'm in no mood to acquire them again. This (plus the obvious security concerns) is one of the main reasons I am a recent convert to Linux for internet and every day PC use.

A conventional Linux installation places Linux on a separate partition from Windows. The Mint installer can shrink a Windows partition to make room for Linux, but if you've already got four partitions, you'll need to make adjustments, as just noted.

Well, took a bit of searching, but here is a screenshot of somebody installing Linux Mint 14 alongside Windows 7. As you can see, in the "Installation type" step of the installer this user was given the three options I mentioned. (click to zoom)


- Thanks for your time in finding common options for windows users here. This is where I get a bit vague (I've been at work all day) but when I attempted installing Mint by booting from DVD, before I even got to the options you are describing I was faced with an option to modify the partition to make it 'float' or something. I had no idea what this meant (admittedly, I was short on time and didn't write down the exact words they were using) so I just aborted at this point. It seemed uncoventional compared to a number of walk through guides that I've read. I'll attempt it again on Friday when I'm next free and note the exact phrase that was used but it seemed to me that Mint was having some difficulty with my hard drive format. As I said before, it's just a basic drive but there seems to be more (less?) to it than that!

Seriously dudes, thanks for the thought that has gone into the posts you've made. I'll digest the info you've given me and work through these problems methodically - I'll run Boot info Script and post the results here should any further difficulties arise during installation. You've also given me some more knowledge about ubuntu which will be helpful in understanding Mint's MO.

I've been spoiled by Windows relative ease of use so maybe this is the first steps in learning what's going on under the hood without using inclusive software that pretty much runs itself.

Enjoy the rest of the week!

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