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Proper Disk Management - Looking for the right solution

by Garavanguy / March 27, 2008 3:23 AM PDT

I was looking many replies, but could not find any about this topic!
I'm facing the following problem: I would like to have my Disk space (750GB) subdivided to accomplish the following:
1 - Boot Windows XP Prof SP2 x86
2 - Boot Windows XP Prof SP2 x64
3 - Store my Data Folders and Files separately (to do Backups from one place).
4 - Boot to Ubuntu 7.10 and alternatively
5 - Boot to Ubuntu Server
6 - Create System Backups for my Laptop (6.1), old PC (6.2) and for this new PC (6.3).

Explanation:
2. Currently I've installed the x64 OS, but it does not supports my Canon LiDE 500F Scanner, my Logitech QuickCam Zoom and many of the 32bit SW, like MSN Live and others.
1. On an other, networked (old) PC I do have a working x86 OS with tons of programs installed.

Questions:
a - The above described Disk layout would mean that I would have more than 4 NTFS partitions. However, how I read about it, NTFS with MBR only allows a max of 4 partitions. The first 2 Windows XP's (Partition 1 - x86, Partition 2- x64 - This sequence is btw. another Windows requirement) have to have MBR to be able boot from it. The Windows Disk Management utility tells me that my Unix (Ubuntu) installation occupies another Partition, in matter of fact Partition 4, showed as an Unknown Partition.
This approach leaves me only Partition 3 to accomplish the rest of all the above described tasks. Can that Partition 3 be configured as a GPT? As I understood, GPT allows up to 128 partitions, but can it be mixed? (Partition1 MBR, Partition2 MBR, Partition3 GPT, Partitition4 Unix) Or is there any other solution?

b - Once partitioning is solved, can I copy with XXCLONE my working 32bit system (from my old PC) to Partition 1 (both NTFS) and my x64 system to Partition 2 instead of reinstalling everything?

c - How do I accomplish, that all Windows OS use the same Data, i.e. the Documents and Setting all point to the same, shared Partition used for storing Data only?

I hope someone already went through this ordeal and may provide adequate hints, for which I thank you in advance.

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Collapse -
The one big problem is...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 27, 2008 3:57 AM PDT

No one can support such. You are very much on your own.

If I were to do this I could get by with installing the first 2 windows and the stock partitioning tools would work just fine. I decline to write about Windows, drivers and what happens when we move a Windows install from partition to partition or the dangers of resizing partitions. I'd just create the partitions the right size the first time.

As to Linux, we can install those later and the current distros install grub and we can do many boots to each OS. I decline from writing how this works but it works fine here.

That leaves us with backups. Since the tape unit was not listed I'll note I still prefer DLTs.
Bob

Collapse -
Not quite
by Jimmy Greystone / March 27, 2008 4:06 AM PDT

You're not quite understanding what you're reading, so let me help try to clarify.

Disk partitioning works something like the following. You can have as many as 4 primary partitions, or 3 primary partitions and one extended partition, which can then have as many logical partitions as you want.

Old versions of Windows, those still based on DOS (so 95-Me excluding NT and Windows 2000) HAD to be installed on the first primary partition in order to boot. This is not a problem with XP, Vista, any Linux distribution, or most any OS for that matter.

There IS a limitation in the PC BIOS that means all the boot information for an OS has to be located below the 1024th cylinder (about the 8GB mark I think) on the hard drive. I don't know for certain, but I don't think the Windows bootloader can get around this like the Linux bootloaders can.

So basically, what you probably want to do is install the 32-bit XP first, then the 64-bit, and after you've got those installed, Ubuntu.

Though I can't quite figure out why you want/need all these operating systems installed, but you may want to look into virutalization software like VMWare or VirtualPC. You install whichever OS is going to be your primary, and then install each of these subsequent operating systems in a virtual machine. Basically they run inside a window on top of your current OS. It makes the whole process a LOT easier, at the expense of some performance. But the only thing I can come up with for needing all these different operating systems is that you're either just curious or you have limited and specific needs for three of the four. So, as long as you can live with maybe 80% of the performance you'd get booting into each of these operating systems exclusively, your life will be a whole lot easier if you just use virtualization software.

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