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I am trying to install Linux Mint alongside an existing Windows 7.

I found a simple tutorial (I haven't tried it yet), but I wonder if it is healthy to partition / and /swap only. On the other hand, another tutorial simply doesn't work even it have four partitions: /, /boot, /swap, and /home.

If the first tutorial works, it is healthy to allocate all space to /? And will I have a /home directory?

Also, I tried the first installer option provided by Mint ("install Linux Mint alongside Windows 7"), but it simply didn't work. The boot menu didn't appear automatically.

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3 Answers 3

Regarding the last problem you state, the problem is likely to come from your answer to the "Device for bootloader installation?" question in the Installation Type screen.

You must enter the disk that you boot from in the BIOS.

If you put the Linux partition or another hard disk, the Grub you just installed won't boot (won't be loaded by the BIOS), and the system will load the Windows 7 bootloader (that is installed in the MBR of the disk).

So you must install the bootloader (grub) in the MBR of the disk, not in the Linux partition.

It rewrites mbr and destroy the Win7 bootloader, but the alternative is to have two hard disks, one for each system. As you prefer.

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Do you mean I should choose /dev/sda in that option, wouldn't that overwrite the windows mbr? –  lamwaiman1988 Sep 3 '12 at 7:28
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This has nothing to do with partitions - MBR is how you handle the booting, but partitions are about file system layout within the new system. –  Jenny D Sep 3 '12 at 7:29

Nowadays using different filesystems for different root-directories is more or less a matter of taste. It could be a safety plus if panic running daemons or applications filling /var could not garbage the whole disk. In former times there had been different partitions for /, /usr, /var, /opt, /home etc pp. Making /boot a standalone small partition with f.e. 512MB is anyway a not bad idea because the kernel-place is isolated and a corrupt / or /home will still let you boot into a rescue system.

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You will still have a /home and a /usr and so on, whether you choose to make them separate partitions or not. The reason to make them separate partitions is usually to make sure that if you e.g. start uploading all your movies to your /home/yourname directory, and it fills up completely, you won't have affected any other parts of the system. If they're all on the same partition, by filling up your home directory you've also filled / and /var etc.

So basically it's a matter of how you intend to use the system. Do you have enough disk space that all 30+ seasons of Doctor Who won't fill it up, then maybe you don't need a separate /home or /movies. Conversely, if you're short of space, maybe you don't want to split it up to the point where you don't leave enough room for installing more programs in /usr .

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I probably would mount another hard drive(HD2) for the data.I have been using that hard drive for data before I format HD1. Could I write on it giving that it has always been used by windows? –  lamwaiman1988 Sep 3 '12 at 7:31
    
Yes, you can either reformat it to a more unix-y file system or you can mount it as an ntfs, keeping the data and file system as it is. –  Jenny D Sep 3 '12 at 7:53

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