Install Mint 17 over OpenSUSE, keeping Win7 dual boot

Questions about Grub, UEFI,the liveCD and the installer
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seedlessboy
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Install Mint 17 over OpenSUSE, keeping Win7 dual boot

Post by seedlessboy »

Hello!

I have a functioning OpenSUSE/Win7 dual boot on my main desktop. I've been trying out Mint 17 on my laptop and like it a lot. So, I want to try to switch from OpenSUSE to Mint on my desktop, and use it as my primary OS.

HOWEVER: if possible, I want to maintain the Win7 dual boot configuration, i.e. not have to reinstall Win7. Is this a completely stupid idea? Or is it easy and straightforward? If it's something in the middle, what pitfalls should I look out for? Presumably Mint will install its own GRUB2, but will it recognize and be able to maintain Win7's bootability?

Thanks a lot in advance!
Biker
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Re: Install Mint 17 over OpenSUSE, keeping Win7 dual boot

Post by Biker »

You shouldn't have any issues installing Mint to the partition that SUSE currently occupies. And yes, GRUB will probe your drive during the installation process and include Windows as a boot option.
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Mark Phelps
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Re: Install Mint 17 over OpenSUSE, keeping Win7 dual boot

Post by Mark Phelps »

Just make sure that you do NOT choose any installation option that says it is REPLACING the existing Linux OS. When you choose that option, the installer automatically erases THE ENTIRE DRIVE! This would, of course, remove your Windows installation from the drive, as well as ALL the files.

You would do better using the Something Else option and manually selecting the existing OpenSUSE partition to install Mint there.
seedlessboy
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Re: Install Mint 17 over OpenSUSE, keeping Win7 dual boot

Post by seedlessboy »

Thanks a lot for these great replies! That's good to know that I need to go the "something else" route.

Isn't it the case that OpenSUSE uses more partitions than Mint does? Should I delete these partitions during the "something else" of the Mint install?

Cheers!
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gold_finger
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Re: Install Mint 17 over OpenSUSE, keeping Win7 dual boot

Post by gold_finger »

I don't know what typical OpenSuse install looks like, but "yes" you can probably delete unnecessary partitions during install.

Typical standard Mint install uses only a Root and Swap partition. You can go with that, or add others (like a separate "/home" partition) if you want to. Either way, like Mark Phelps said, you definitely want to go with the "Something else" install option so you can manually direct partitioning as desired if the OpenSuse partitions are still on the drive.

Another option would be to use GParted (from live Mint) before running the installer and just delete all OpenSuse partitions -- leaving just free, unpartitioned space in its place. Then when you run the installer, (if you just want a standard Root and Swap partition), you could pick the "Along side Windows" option and the installer would automatically use that free space and make those partitions. (If you wanted a non-standard partition arrangement you would need to choose "Something else" install option, then make your partitions in the free space.)
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seedlessboy
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Re: Install Mint 17 over OpenSUSE, keeping Win7 dual boot

Post by seedlessboy »

OpenSUSE has three partitions: swap, root and home. I'm not sure where GRUB lives - I suppose in root? I'm a bit concerned as when I go into the Mint install, it recognizes that OpenSUSE live in its root partition, but it doesn't recognize Win7. That is, I can see two NTFS partitions - Win7 and what must be the deactivated Win7 bootloader - but at no point does the installer either identify either of these as a place where Win7 lives, or give me the option to install Mint "alongside Windows". This is different from what I'm used to seeing when installing a Linux system onto an empty partition on a machine that is already booting Windows (I suppose because in the second case, the Windows bootloader is active, whereas this isn't now the case).

Should I have faith and delete the SUSE partitions, and expect that Mint's GRUB will recognize that the existing NTFS partition contains Windows?

Thanks very much again!!
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Re: Install Mint 17 over OpenSUSE, keeping Win7 dual boot

Post by Derek_S »

Hello seedlessboy - If you have only two Windows partitions, and both are formatted NTFS, then it appears your BIOS is using MBR boot and your hard drive has a MBR type partition table. Just to verify this, is the first partition on the disk 100MB in size, formatted NTFS, and labelled as the "System Reserved" partition? If so, then that is the default used when Windows 7 is installed on a disk with a MBR partition table. The second NTFS partition is the Windows C:\ system partition. Just be sure not to accidently delete or reformat either of these partitions when installing Linux Mint and you should be fine.

I've used openSUSE 13.1 in the past, and by default it installs exactly as you've described: a swap partition, followed by a 20GB root partition, and the rest of the disk is used for the home partition. Note #1: By default swap will be 2GB in size, but if you chose "Enable Hibernation" when installing, then instead swap will be slightly larger than your system's installed memory. Note #2: In openSUSE 13.1, root is 20GB in size and uses the ext4 filesystem, and so does home. However, I've read that in openSUSE 13.2, root is 30GB in size and uses the btrfs filesystem, while home uses the xfs filesystem. I mention this so you can easily identify the root and home partitions when running the Mint installer.

As far as installing Linux Mint, definitely use the "Something Else" option when you install, and you'll be able to reformat and set the mount points for the existing root and home partitions that openSUSE is currently using. Important Note: Back up any data from openSUSE's home partition that you want to save before proceeding any further.

Just to walk you through it, select "Something Else" at the "Installation Options" screen. On the next screen, you will see a small partition table displayed. Find the root partition first, click the line it's displayed on, then go down and click the "Change" button. On the small pop-up screen that appears, you must do three things: 1.) Click the "Use As" button, and select "ext4" as the file system. 2.) Next, check the "Format" box. 3.) Then click "Mount Point" and select " / " - the root symbol. You are done with root at this point and can click the "OK" button. Now go back to the partition table, find the home partition, click the line it's displayed on, and go down and click the "Change" button. Repeat the same three steps with one exception - in step #3, set the "Mount Point" as "/home". Then click the "OK" button.

Before leaving this screen, you must select the "Device for Boot Loader Installation" at the bottom. Go back up and look at the partition table. If all your partitions begin with "sda" (for instance sda1, sda2, sda3, etc.) then choose "sda" as the location. This installs the grub bootloader to the MBR area of the disk. Do not select a numbered partiton! When you're done with this, click the "Install Now" button. Then it's just a matter of filling in the information on several more screens and letting the installer do it's thing.

If you find that you cannot boot into Windows 7 after installing Linux Mint, don't panic. Boot into Linux Mint and open the Terminal. Enter "sudo os-prober" and verify that Windows 7 comes back in the output. Then enter "sudo update-grub", and after it completes the operation, you can close the Terminal. When you reboot, you should see both Linux Mint and Windows 7 displayed in the grub boot menu.

After I get both systems up and running, I do one more thing. I boot into Linux Mint and install the Grub Customizer by Daniel Richter. Do this by opening the Terminal and entering these three commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grub-customizer

Then I use the Grub Customizer to place Windows 7 at the top of the boot order in the grub boot menu. I do this because after you install Windows Updates, you need to restart the system and boot back into Windows. Having Windows at the top of the boot menu ensures that you don't accidently boot into Linux Mint and botch the Windows Updates. I've never done this, nor would I care to suffer the consequences of doing so. :(
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seedlessboy
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Re: Install Mint 17 over OpenSUSE, keeping Win7 dual boot

Post by seedlessboy »

Hi All,

Man, Derek_S, that was a great reply!

I deleted the OpenSUSE partitions, but couldn't get rid of Grub Rescue for some reason. I'm sure there's a step somewhere that I missed, but as a result I couldn't get Win7 to boot. But, I could boot into a Win7 DVD and repair the MBR via the cmd prompt (leaving out the part where it thought I had UEFI firmware due to using a BluRay drive - that was an annoying problem!), so now I was booting Windows. I re-sized the Windows partitions within Windows and went ahead to install Mint. The problem that you predicted emerged - Win7 still wasn't identified, so I could only boot into Mint after the install. However, I ran os-prober and update-grub, and it worked! I'm now dual booting Mint and Win7 just fine.

Thanks very much for the tip to change the boot order to deal with Win7 updates and auto-restarts! I'm sure this would have eventually become a problem.

Woo-hoo! Solved!

Thanks again to all.
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JOPETA
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Re: Install Mint 17 over OpenSUSE, keeping Win7 dual boot

Post by JOPETA »

So, please edit your first post and add "solved". Thanks.
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