Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to partition for dual-booting Windows and Linux

ALWAYS INSTALL WINDOWS FIRST - this is the most important and most common suggestion everywhere. It's not like you cannot install windows AFTER you have installed linux. But installing windows BEFORE installing linux saves you from a lot of sweat while configuring the GRUB boot loader as linux installer takes care of that part quite effectively by itself.

Now the following is the recommended way to partition your hard drive if you are planning to dual boot linux with windows.
Some points to make it easier to understand the chart above:
  • Windows system must be in a primary partition. Linux system can be in either primary or extended partitions - doesn't matter.
  • Windows partition is most recommended to be in NTFS format - although FAT and FAT32 is possible
  • Partitions for your personal files (like MyStuff1 MyStuff2 etc) should be in FAT32 - because FAT32 is easily readable and writable by both windows and linux
  • The Linux root partition should be in Ext3 format (or Ext4 or Ext5 - whichever is latest and stable during your time of installation). Remember that Ext format is usually not readable or writable by windows
  • If you plan to mount the linux directories onto different mount-points (for example: / , /mnt , /usr , /boot , /opt , /sys , /root etc), then all those partitions are recommended to be in the Ext format - the best format for linux operations.
  • You have to have a dedicated linux swap drive if you want to use linux in your system. Its size is recommended to be double of the amount of RAM you have present in your system. The only file system possible for this partition is Linux-Swap partition.

Here is how you can install your OS's and design your partitions.
  • You should first install windows in a primary partition and then install linux. 
  • After installing windows you should download a partition manager software that can help you create, delete, size, resize, alter, format partitions with a Graphical User Interface. My recommendation is to use EaseUS Partition Master - Home Edition which is free and really nice, really reliable and really easy to use.
  • Then you can architect your hard drive with the partition manager software according to the suggested chart above.
  • Once you are satisfied with the way your hard drive looks, you can proceed with installing linux in the ext partition.

Kindly leave your comments if you have any suggestions for this article.

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