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I have a quick question that I ran across while trying to install Linux Mint along with Windows 8 on my computer. I'm pretty new to Linux stuff so I'm sorry if this is pretty obvious. I'm mainly looking for confirmation that my partitioning scheme will work, but also what I should do with the bootloader. I have a hard drive and an SSD, but the hard drive is just being used for storage so I won't really mention it.

As it stands, my SSD already has Windows 8 installed on an NTFS partition, as well as a 10GB swap partition and an empty ext4 partition where I plan to install Mint. I have a few questions about this setup

  1. Will there be any problems mounting /home on an empty ext4 partition on my hard drive while mounting / on the SSD? I can't see why it would be, but I thought I might as well ask.

  2. The Mint installer asks me which device to use for the boot loader installation. The choices on my SSD are:

    • /dev/sdb (entire SSD)
    • /dev/sdb1 (described as Windows 8 (loader) in menu, which is the NTFS partition with the entire Window 8 installation including bootloader)
    • /dev/sdb6 (the ext4 partition where I'm installing Mint)

Right now, /dev/sdb1 is marked as my boot partition which makes sense, seeing as that's where the Windows 8 bootloader is. If I choose to install the new bootloader there, would it overwrite the Windows 8 one and mess everything up? My understanding is that Mint installs GRUB, and when you boot into that it gives you the choice of going into Mint or Windows, and if you choose Windows it just jumps over to the Windows bootloader. With this mind, I was thinking that I should just install the bootloader into /dev/sdb6, leaving the Windows partition completely alone and then set /dev/sdb6 as my boot partition. Then when I boot it will go into GRUB, and if I choose the Windows 8 bootloader it will jump over to /dev/sdb1 and start Windows normally. I really don't understand this stuff that well though, so I thought it would definitely be a good idea to ask so I don't make Windows unbootable or something. I also don't understand the choice of putting the bootloader in /dev/sdb since there is no unallocated space on the SSD or anything, so the idea of installing the bootloader across 3 partitions seems a little off to me.

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1 Answer 1

So with Linux Mint (and other Linuxes) there are certain bootloaders that you can choose from. Two of the most popular are GRUB (Grand Unified Bootloader) and LILO. These are usually written onto your hard drive's first 1M space instead of a specific partition, because writing to a specific partition means that you need to use another bootloader to log into that partition, which then presents you with a bootloader, etc., etc.. Actually, there are certain partition types that you can use to create a BIOS bootloader section (EF02 in gdisk). Seeing how you're on a primarily Windows machine, I'm assuming you're using msdos as your partitioning map and don't want to change it (changing forces a loss of all of your data). So, I would burn the bootloader to the /dev/sdb option, solely because burning it anywhere else doesn't make too much sense.

Also, you'll need to manually erase some file in the Windows OS that recovers its own bootloader (because Windows is Windows).

As to the partitioning scheme, storing /home on the hard drive is alright if you want to boot from the SSD. What I would do is make a / in ext4, /var in ReiserFS (ReiserFS is great for small files), /home in XFS (great for large files), and /boot (100MB should be alright) in ext2, as ext2 is tried and tested and bootloaders usually recognize ext2. Make sure to set the boot flag to ON. Store this all on your SSD, except for your /home partition.

Also, you might need to look into logical partitions, seeing how Windows usually uses msdos partitioning scheme, which only allows 4 primary partitions.

Anyway, hope this helped! More info here: http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml?part=1&chap=4

^^This helped when I was installing Gentoo, and still helps when I install anything else. Each filing system has its own advantages, and it's important to recognize and use each filing system to its fullest.

P.S. Here's my filing scheme (taken from parted):

Number  Start   End     Size    File system     Name                 Flags

3      17.4kB  1049kB  1031kB                  BIOS boot partition  bios_grub

1      1049kB  538MB   537MB   ext2            Linux filesystem     boot

2      538MB   14.5GB  14.0GB  linux-swap(v1)  Linux swap

4      14.5GB  46.7GB  32.2GB  reiserfs        Linux filesystem

5      46.7GB  476GB   429GB   ext4            Linux filesystem

6      476GB   750GB   274GB   xfs             Linux filesystem

This should give an idea of sizes (this is meant for a personal laptop).

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