Dual Booting Questions

First post here, and a complete Linux newb;

I am planning on installing Linux onto my home desktop and would like a few short questions answered;

I currently have two hard drives (500gig and 1TB) on this computer, If I install both windows 7 and Linux onto one hard drive (so I partition a 500gig Hard drive to two 250gigs and install them separately on each partition) would they both be able to access the other 1TB hard drive?

After installation how do I go about choosing which OS to boot?

What is the easiest way to go about installing Linux, should I just Partition the hard drive first and then install linux onto it through Windows 7 or should I burn a CD to boot from?

I hope I’ve posted this in the right section, If not I apologise

Any comments are welcome, general advice or direct answers, thank you :slight_smile:

Most likely the kernel does support NTFS (Win’s std. filesystem) you would need to define mount points in the fstab. Let’s assume you would like to mount the two win-partions on /win-HDD/1 and /win-HDD/2 and the first HDD with a win-FS/Linux-partion would be /dev/sda1 (Linux) and /dev/sda2 (Win), whilst the Win-HDD would be /dev/sdb1, you should create the mount-points:

$ su password: # mkdir /win-HDD # mkdir /win-HDD/1 # mkdir /win-HDD/2

now you would need to add two lines into the /etc/fstab:

$ su
# echo "/dev/sda2     /win-HDD/1             ntfs defaults       0 1" >> /etc/fstab
# echo "/dev/sdb1     /win-HDD/2             nfts defaults       0 1" >> /etc/fstab

How to figure out the partions - Run:

fdisk -l /dev/sda
fdisk -l /dev/sdb

The partions shall be visible after a reboot - to see those on “the fly”, you would to mount those manually:

$ su
# mount /win-HDD/1
# mount /win-HDD/2

To check they are really visible run

df -h

Yes (if the 1tb drive is NTFS/FAT(32)) both OS’s wil be able to access the 1tb drive, and Linux will be able to access the Windows7 partition.

Best way to partition/install… Defrag the windows drive first, then boot to a Linux LiveCD… once at the desktop, click the “install” icon, you will be walked through resizing the windows partition and creating linux ones.
(as with any partition resizing, there is always a small chance of corruption so make sure you backup valuable data first)

A bootloader (normally GRUB) will be installed, which will be the first thing you see when booting, it will ask you which OS you want to boot into.

If you are installing from scratch… Install Win7 first, then Linux or the windows bootloader will overwrite the Linux one… leaving you only able to boot Windows…

he didn’t ask about manual mounting… just access, most Linux distros will mount the drive for him when he clicks on the drive’s icon.

To see the Linux-Partion (most likely either ext3 or ext4) from Win you will need to install a tool like Ext2-IFS (for ext2/3/4).


Please note that ext3/4 can behave when the journal has been properly finished as ext2, therefore you able to see those from Win.

For a ReiserFS you may use YAReG:

Yes, you had edit anyway the /etc/fstab eiter the way I did or with an text editor like the vi, which is great tool, but you need some time to get use to it.

you ONLY have to edit /etc/fstab if you want it to automount at boot… unnecessary (in most distros) if you only want access.

Yes, it much more convenient and you could add into you home-directory a symbolic to access this stuff a bit easier.

Ah this has been most helpful! Thank you all very much :smiley:

I’m sure it is asked a lot here, about what version I should run (Ubuntu etc), but for the present time I am considering using Ubuntu as it seems to be the most popular(?) My question now is in the case of installing Ubuntu and wanting to change to a different distribution (correct word?) would it need to be all deleted and installed again? Secondly, is Ubuntu a wise choice for a beginner?

I plan on using Linux for pretty much everything apart from gaming, this includes media, word processing and programming.

Thanks again for the feedback so far (:

One feature of distributions is that the different software packages are “tuned” in their dependencies and interaction with each other. You can create a kind of dual boot by installing everything expect the home-directories (were you data and user-specific settings are stored) in different partions. Otherwise you would need to re-install everything.

I personally have a “play box”, a laptop I don’t use for any productivity purposes, just to test different distributions and to play around.

At least to say: It is not a bad one.

You find on my webpage my brief description of some distrubtions:


But: My list is far from being complete. More in detail for other dristubtions here: http://distrowatch.com/

All distribution have their shortcomings and strengths.

Ubuntu has in my experience a good support for multimedia, programming is anyway the “heard-and-soul” of Linux, word processing: Anything between Koffice, Abiword and OpenOffice (which is certainly not worst than WinWord/WinOffice).

You will certainly find Ubuntu/Mint “help” easier to come by than some of the more obscure distros, but it is really a matter of opinion as to which is “best”.

Any of the major distros should be OK Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, OpenSuse, Fedora, Mandriva etc.

I use Linux Mint as it’s based on Ubuntu so “ubuntu help” applies to mint as well, but has a slightly more familiar desktop layout (if you’re coming from windows) and has the media codecs etc. pre-installed although this is easily achieved in Ubuntu.

Changing distro… a more complex question… there are certainly things you can do “now” to ease a future distro change, such as put /home on its own partition.

Do not make root-partition (everything else except /home) too small, because /tmp can become to easily too full - a size of 10-20GB shall be fine.