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I am new to Linux and just got some foggy idea of partition tables. To be precise here it is:

Model: ATA ST3500418AS (scsi)
Disk /dev/sda: 500GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
Partition Table: msdos

Number  Start   End     Size    Type      File system  Flags
 1      1049kB  1001MB  1000MB  primary   ext4         boot
 2      1001MB  3002MB  2001MB  primary
 3      3002MB  18.0GB  15.0GB  primary   ext4
 4      18.0GB  500GB   482GB   extended
 5      18.0GB  53.0GB  35.0GB  logical   ext4
 6      53.0GB  93.0GB  40.0GB  logical   ext4
 7      93.0GB  500GB   407GB   logical   ext4

$ uname -r -v
3.2.0-41-generic-pae #66-Ubuntu SMP Thu Apr 25 03:50:20 UTC 2013

$ df
Filesystem          1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda3            14419440   4397832   9289144  33% /
udev                  1015728         4   1015724   1% /dev
tmpfs                  410376       908    409468   1% /run
none                     5120         0      5120   0% /run/lock
none                  1025940       584   1025356   1% /run/shm
/dev/sda1              961528    161488    751196  18% /boot
/dev/sda5            33643288   2435112  29499172   8% /var
/dev/sda6            38448788    180232  36315432   1% /usr/local
/dev/sda7           391315084 365544552   5892800  99% /home
/home/arun/.Private 391315084 365544552   5892800  99% /home/arun

And now I want to install OpenSUSE 12.2 alongside it. I also want to share /usr/local and /home partition among both OSes.

What changes to this partiton setup would get me going with the best usage of my hard disk space? I will be doing kernel development later and thus want to share the /boot partition too.

share|improve this question
That is not your partition table but a list of the mounted file systems (some of them not even living on a block device). fdisk -l /dev/sda or parted /dev/sda print (necessary for GPT disks) usually gives you your partition table. – Hauke Laging May 4 '13 at 13:20
thanks @HaukeLaging corrected my mistake. – Arun Kumar May 4 '13 at 13:30
Also lsblk gives a nice view, as do df -h. – Sukminder May 4 '13 at 14:02
@Sukminder Great command; didn't know that. – Hauke Laging May 5 '13 at 1:46
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Best... I don't know.

I use gparted when my partitions no longer fit my need, gparted helps me create , copy, move, resize, delete partitions. It's with a GUI, really easy to use.

I have modified my partitions more than a dozen of times on my current laptop since the beginning... and each time it was to fit my needs the best with new constraints.

Modifying the /etc/fstab file you can tell all your installed distributions to point on the same /boot /var or /home partition. You have to do it for each /etc/fstab file ( i.e. for each distribution).

I personnally would start with a simpler plan than yours. /, /home, and maybe /boot if you really really really think you will need it. And then, create symbolic link and mount partition to them as the need appears ( this is done with /etc/fstab).

For my current debian/ubuntu distro, I happen to have full 15GBytes / with all my installed tools, so I must allocate a bit more than that. Additionnal data are stored on other partitions, mounted as /home and /databases.

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gparted not working on active partitions, any suggestions? – Arun Kumar May 4 '13 at 13:56
Use a live CD, with gparted. The system partitions won't be active. – Stephane Rolland May 4 '13 at 13:58

It seems there is no free space on the partition. If it is possible to install openSUSE in this situation then it is at least no fun for people on your level. In theory you could simply put it on one of the existing drives but though possible I am afraid the result would be confusing.

I suggest to reduce the size of your /home partition and create a new partition in the new free space and make this an LVM PV. Is that an option to you?

Having a 1 GiB /boot partition usually does not make sense at all. Though I admit that the situation may be different for kernel developers (if they don't use VMs). I would consider sharing /boot between distros dangerous at least.

share|improve this answer
Gparted not working on active partitions.. any suggestions? – Arun Kumar May 4 '13 at 13:55
@ArunKumar: Use a live CD / USB. Live – Sukminder May 4 '13 at 13:59
I usually save a live (recovery) CD in /boot, so I usually make it 1 GB or a bit more. – ignis May 4 '13 at 18:15
@ignis Do you save the image there for burning on media or do you boot that? If so: How? – Hauke Laging May 4 '13 at 18:50
I add (manually) a menu entry in GRUB, to boot it. How: grub: boot from ISO – ignis May 4 '13 at 19:28

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