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three OS formatting?

Discussion in 'Windows XP' started by downriver, Dec 12, 2004.

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  1. downriver

    downriver Thread Starter

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    Hiya all.

    I am going to (sigh...) re-format my 40 gig HDD for reasons you do NOT want to wade through...

    I currently have four partitions on a 40 gig HDD, two bootable (c:\ w98; d:\ XP Pro). The W98 partition is wrecked and I also have wanted to setup a linux partition so I can learn that system and play around in the "open source" universe, so now's the time.

    The question is, given my 40 gig capacity, what is the _optimal_ setup for the new partitions?

    I now have W98 on a ~3gig partition, w/ XP on ~20, and the other storage "drives" pretty much even divided for the balance of the space. I don't use W98 a lot, but I do need it for some things. It works fine on a 3 gig partition, and probably could be OK on something even smaller (I've run W98 on smaller HDDs than this before, without any obvious problems.

    I need storage areas on distinct partition, so I want at least one data storage partition, i.e., a total of at least four partitions.

    Other conditions and requirements are:

    1 -- I use MS Office on _both_ Windows systems, Open Office and Corel Office Suites, too. These (esp. MS Office XP) need a lot of space. Also, I am using XP for almost everything, so that OS needs to be "catered to" with this re-format. I mean, the XP partition is the one I am least interested in running at a "thin" level, and it seems to like having the current 18.something gigs.

    2 -- I don't play games on this machine, so that's not an issue, strictly a personal/business machine, but I do work with graphic picture files sometimes, and my son uses this machine with his music recording studio "ProTools" on the W98 partition for burning CDs of his band's music.

    3 -- I also have an ATI TV tuner setup on both partitions (news while I work...), and that takes a fair amount of space, too.

    Thanks enormously for any counsel on this. I am going to start this massive chore tonight or tomorrow early.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Cosmic

    Cosmic

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    I don't think there is any such animal as an optimal setup. It is far to user specific.

    Something to think about. It sounds like you may have too many eggs in one basket. How do you do backups? If you are only operating on one hard drive that puts all OS's at risk from sudden failure, too say nothing of your data.

    My personal opinion is way to much fuss is made over partitions and too much faith placed in its benefits. At best the sizing is a guess. You can resize later using some software but that also introduces risk.

    A better option might be to buy a removable rack / tray system. Get some more hard drives. Drives in the 20 - 40G size are very cheap. Set up each OS on its own drive, you can swap OS's by just swapping drives. The entire idea of partitions is not very important under that scheme. Maybe even give the son, his own hard drive / OS in a tray. Again you reduce the risk of one person doing something that can effect another.

    More important, you may have room for proper backups and that method spreads the risk of a single failure totally wiping you out. The extra drives can also be setup to backup other OS's by expanding the rack system to allow more than one hard drive to be installed at once.

    If you have as much at stake as it sounds on one hard drive, I would be looking to diversify how each function is used and get a lot of the risk out of the operation. You should be looking at fairly small money for a huge gain in overall reliability.

    Depending on partitions to separate functions is a bit short sighted when you realize it is all spinning on the same motor / platter and what the risk from that may be. 40G sounds a bit too tight for all that anyway. I use 3 OS's and a swappable tray system. Each drive C is 40G which is way over sized but they cost about the same as something less. All my data is on separate drives and I use no partitions. The idea of keep it very simple, a lot less to go wrong. Any failure only can affect part of the operation.
     
  3. downriver

    downriver Thread Starter

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    Thank you. I think this is _excellent_ advise. I also agree with you about the "partitioning" craze, but then again, playing around with these things is helpful toward a general understanding of this technology (I have had NO formal training, yet I do a lot of things most un-trained people don't attempt... hunt and peck self-education...)

    Unfortunately, I can't go that way in the immediate situation and I will be formatting this present HDD tomorrow.

    I do not, EVER, rely on my HDD for storing anything of real importance. I use removable media, Zips and / or CDs for even short-term storage of docs in progress, and certainly for archives.

    As for backups of apps and settings (etc.) you are correct and I am a bit sloppy about this... I am in the process of learning about "imaging" drives, and that will help -- to get things just right, then "image" it before day-to-day "stuff" puts debris all over the place. (I know system-restore does this, but it also takes a lot of space, and in my experience also seems to drop restore points into space sometimes...).

    My boy has his own computer, but it's a p3 running ME and mine is better for him when he gets to the point of mixing and burning the group's music. His needs here matter, but they aren't the central issue.

    Now, one problem with using a bunch of big drives (I've been around long enough that a 40 gig drive is still "big" to me, even though I know that 80 gigs is almost normal these days...), is that it can take forever to do secure overwriting (free space and cluster tips). As a paralegal, I am legally and ethically required to do secure deletions of client information in many circumstances. There are many industries, and of course, government agencies, that have this sort of need to wipe drives in a serious manner. That's a lot easier and faster to do on smaller drives.

    Anyway, thanks again. I will consider making the investment you suggest.
     
  4. downriver

    downriver Thread Starter

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    Let me simplify the question since I already know what W98 and XP need: How much room does a linux system need for basic operations, and assuming the future installation of some linux apps (word processing, browsers, etc.)?
     
  5. Elvandil

    Elvandil

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    Maybe this is not something that will interest you, but how about just installing one OS and running all the rest in virtual machines? That way, you can install and uninstall operating systems at will and never have to do any partitioning at all.

    I run Windows ME, Linux, and FreeBSD in virtual machines. That way, I can run more than one OS at the same time on the same machine and test apps in other operating systems without even rebooting. It is also handy for practicing setting up networks between different operating systems.

    If one crashes, it has no effect on the other and you can keep right on working.

    http://www.vmware.com/products/desktop/ws_features.html
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtualpc/default.mspx

    Click Here----> [​IMG]
     
  6. redoak

    redoak Gone but never forgotten

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    I believe 5 GB is adequate for most of not all Linux OS. You could post that question to the Linux forum for confirmation. Also, there are a number of L OSs that run from a CD, with no need to install. I plan to start my "playing around" that way. {redoak}
     
  7. downriver

    downriver Thread Starter

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    Redoak -- thank you. I can easily give Linux 5 gigs.

    Elvandil -- yes, and thanks. A VPC setup would be an excellent way to go for me. Can't afford it right now, but I'll try the trial version once I get past immediate needs.

    BTW to both / anybody -- I'm operating on the assumption that the installation sequence of these three OSs is important. Previous instructions to me have been to install linux, W98, and XP last. Is there any dissent on that?
     
  8. pyritechips

    pyritechips Gone but Never Forgotten

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    I have a current W98se/W2K/XP multi boot and through much experience W98se must be installed first! It over writes the boot record and if you install it after any other OS those will not be accessible, unless you care to do a lot of manual fiddling with editing boot records, etc.

    Install W98se first; install XP next then install Linux, which will recognise the Windows OS's

    Partitioning "craze"? I beg to differ but any large HDD should be partitioned - not to do so is a waste of space and resources. I allow 5 GB for my W98se partition because I don't use it much and don't have many apps loaded on it. I have 5 GB also for my W2K partition and it is getting full (I may resize it with Partition Magic soon). I allowed 8 GB for my XP partition. To allow enough space for Linux I suggest at least 5 GB. Personally, I would not feel comfortable with only 40 GB. With the low cost of HDD's lately I recommend a second one: at least another 60 GB. The advantage of a second HDD is that you can back up all your files (and even image your OS's) and if one HDD physically fails you lose nothing.
     
  9. downriver

    downriver Thread Starter

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    Elvandil --

    I downloaded and installed the MS VPC trial version. Then I downloaded the (larger) update and tried to install it. I have XPSP2 on this machine, so the update looked important. The update told me I had to get rid of the previous version. I did that. Then I tried to run install for the updated version, and it wouldn't install because it was an update / service pack and the first version wasn't there...

    Thoughts? I'm downloading the trail version of the other one now... big, 38megs on a dial up...
     
  10. downriver

    downriver Thread Starter

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    But I forgot to ask my questions on these VPCs --

    First, one reason I keep w98 around is that I have hardware for which there are no XP drivers. Will VPC allow me to use these items the same way that my partitioning setup does?

    Second, I seem to remember a lot of security issues around VPC. What do I need to watch out for if I do this route?

    Thanks.
     
  11. Elvandil

    Elvandil

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    Sorry that I'm not equipped to answer most of your questions. I have pretty much stuck with VMware since it allows for the installation of a number of non-MS operating systems. That is more what I was looking for than the operation of different versions of Windows. I saw some information on the site about the considerations that you should have when installing service packs and VPC, but you can find those for yourself.

    The security issues that I have read about are the usual ones, so far as I know. Many people think that they need no further security in their installed VM's if the security of the host operating system is sufficient, but that is very far from the situation. The isolation of the VM's from the host is such that the VM's require their own firewalls, antivirus, etc. In short, it needs to be treated the same way it would be if it were installed on another partition.

    The driver situation may be quite different. Since the VM's access the hardware through the host OS, I don't belive that you will be able to use 98 drivers on a device that requires an XP driver on the host, for example. Both operating systems couldn't access the same device at the same time, anyway, except for those obvious exceptions that are built into the system, like the video, mouse, keyboard, etc. But it would be interesting to see whether a device that was disabled in XP as host, for example, allowing it to be free for access by the VM, could have a 98 driver installed in the VM and have it work.

    But I'm in the process of learning about this stuff, too, so I make no claim to certain knowledge about any of these things. It's a new field, and you are just as likely to discover new things as anyone else :D.
     
  12. Cosmic

    Cosmic

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    With all this talk about different OS's. I have zero experience with Linux but do have some spare 5 - 15G hard drives laying around.

    Would be interesting to maybe install a Linux OS on its own hard drive and use it in the swappable tray system. I don't want any dual installed OS's on any hard drive, just the way I tick. The idea of a virtual OS doesn't excite me at this point.

    Exactly how would one go about doing this? What should the hard drive be formatted as? What version of a Freebie Linux would be good to consider? Is there a good Website for Linux Dummy's?

    I really want to just put the OS on its own hard drive, plug in the drive and boot up. Don't want it to ever be able to affect anything I consider important, at least in the learning phase.

    One area of interest might be in finding a small version of Linux that can run on an older 33Mhz 486 that is used for home automation. These are Point of Sale computers (Epson IM-X40) with very limited amounts of RAM. I got like 4MB in there now. Presently run as DOS systems and it is more about being able to add and manage a lot of ports instead of the normal computer whiz bang stuff. No real need to replace but being able to effective use all the installed memory would be nice. Most Windows systems that attempt to do this are unstable. DOS is rock stable. A new X-10 comm gizmo is out that uses straight ASCII, still haven't tried it but would prevent having to try to write a new driver.

    There are other special systems dedicated to automation but either they cost too much or would require a complete rework of what I have attempted to build up for years. Many have their own languages and OS's. Would be interesting to find out what somebody has been able to do in Linux in this area.
     
  13. redoak

    redoak Gone but never forgotten

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    I have seen reference to putting a Linux OS on a separate HDD on the Linux forum. Perhaps your present ?s would be best posted there. Only suggesting, not criticizing believe me. {redoak}
     
  14. Elvandil

    Elvandil

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    There are 100's, if not 1000's of different Linux distros out there. Here is a good place to start looking.

    http://www.linux.org/dist/

    There are an awful lot of "free" ones, too. (I know. They are all supposed to be "free" and all that. But I mean one that is downloadable and without any cost at all.)

    Most use the Ext2fs file system on drives, but there are some that use FAT, too, and can be installed alongside Windows.

    And then there are the 100's of LiveCD's that are bootable CD's containing Linux that don't need a hard drive at all. Knoppix and Gnoppix are the most popular of those. The advantage to knoppix, a version of Debian, is that it can also be installed to the hard drive if you want, but it can be booted from the CD on any machine. Once you get it set up, you can carry your own personal operating system around with you and boot up on any machine with your familiar desktop.

    So all you really need to do is make a choice. Knoppix has the advantage of being both bootable and installable, and I like it since I have managed to get on the net with the bootable CD. If I can figure it out, anyone can :D.

    But it is all very easy. Pick a distro, follow the directions, install it, and use it. It only gets hard after that.
     
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