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Having done the layout you should now have a detailled description on what goes where. Most likely this will be on paper but hopefully someone will make a more automated system that can deal with everything from the design, through partitioning to formatting and installation. This is the route one will have to take to realise the design.
Modern distributions come with installation tools that will guide you
through partitioning and formatting and also set up
Before starting make sure you have the following:
When you start DOS or the like you will find all partitions labeled
Dec 6 23:45:18 demos kernel: Partition check: Dec 6 23:45:18 demos kernel: sda: sda1 Dec 6 23:45:18 demos kernel: hda: hda1 hda2
SCSI drives are labelled
Partitions are labelled numerically for each drive
These are then mounted according to the file
First you have to partition each drive into a number of separate partitions.
Under Linux there are two main methods,
Partitions come in 3 flavours,
Each partition has an identifier number which tells the operating system
what it is, for Linux the types
There is a readme file that comes with
Someone has just made a Partitioning HOWTO which contains excellent, in depth information on the nitty-gritty of partitioning. Rather than repeating it here and bloating this document further, I will instead refer you to it instead.
Redhat has written a screen oriented utility called Disk Druid which
is supposed to be a user friendly alternative
Not to be outdone, Mandrakesoft has made an even more graphic alternative called Diskdrake that also offers numerous features.
Also the GNU project offers a partitioning tool called GNU Parted
Note that Windows will complain if it finds more than one primary partition on a drive. Also it appears to assign drive letters to primary partitions as it finds disks before starting over from the first disk to assign subsequent drive names to logical partitions.
If you want DOS/Windows on your system you should make that partition
first, a primary one to boot to, made with the DOS
In depth information on DOS
Sometimes it is necessary to change the sizes of existing partitions while keeping the contents intact. One way is of course to back up everything, recreate new partitions and then restore the old contents, and while this gives your back up system a good test it is also rather time consuming.
Partition resizing is a simpler alternative where a file system is first shrunk to desired volume and then the partition table is updated to reflect the new end of partition position. This process is therefore very file system sensitive.
Repartitioning requires there to be free space at the end of the file space so to ensure you are able to shrink the size you should first defragment your drive and empty any wastebaskets.
you can resize a
Resizing other file systems are much more complicated but one
popular commercial system
is able to resize more file system types, including
In order to get the most out of
There are reports that in some Windows defragmentation programs you should make sure the box "allow Windows to move files around" is not checked, otherwise you will end up with some files in the last cylinder of the partition which will prevent FIPS from reclaiming space.
If you still have unmovable files at the end of your DOS partition you should get the DOS program showfat version 3.0 or higher. This shows you what files are where so you can deal with them directly.
A freeware alternative is Partition Resizer which can shrink, grow and move partitions.
Some versions of DOS / Windows have a hidden flag for
Repartitioning is as dangerous process as any other partitioning so you are advised to have a fresh backup handy.
In Microsoft products all the way up to Win 98 there is a tricky bug
that can cause you a bit of trouble:
if you have several primary
There is more information available on the net on this.
To avoid this you can place a small logical
More information on multi OS installations are available at V Communications.
Since some hardware comes with setup software that is available under DOS only this could come in handy anyway. Notable examples are RAID controllers from DPT and a number of networking cards.
Being in a state of flux you should make sure to read the latest documentation on this kernel feature. It is not yet stable, beware.
Briefly explained it works by adding partitions together into new
Then you then treat these like any other partition on a drive. Proceed with formatting etc. as described below using these new devices.
There is now also a HOWTO in development for RAID using
Next comes partition formatting, putting down the data structures that will
describe the files and where they are located. If this is the first time it
is recommended you use formatting with verify. Strictly speaking it should
not be necessary but this exercises the I/O hard enough that it can uncover
potential problems, such as incorrect termination, before you store your
precious data. Look up the command
Linux can support a great number of file systems, rather than repeating
the details you can read the man page for
Note that some rescue disk systems require
Also swap partitions have to be prepared, and for this you use
Some important notes on formatting with DOS and Windows can be found in MS-DOS 5.00 - 7.10 Undocumented, Secret + Hidden Features.
Note that this formatting is high level formatting, that writes the file system to the disk, as opposed to low level formatting that lays down tracks and sectors. The latter is hardly ever needed these days.
Data on a partition is not available to the file system until it is mounted
on a mount point. This can be done manually using
During the booting process the system mounts all partitions
as described in the
This file is somewhat sensitive to the formatting used so it is best and also most convenient to edit it using one of the editing tools made for this purpose.
Briefly, the fields are partition name, where to mount the partition,
type of file system, mount options, when to dump for backup
and when to do
Linux offers the possibility of parallel file checking (
Mounting, either by hand or using the
For more information and cautions refer to the man page
Having constructed and implemented your clever scheme you are well advised to make a complete record of it all, on paper. After all having all the necessary information on disk is no use if the machine is down.
Partition tables can be damaged or lost, in which case it is
excruciatingly important that you enter the exact same numbers
There is also a small script in appendix Appendix M: Disk System Documenter which will generate a summary of your disk configurations.
For checking your hard disks you can use the Disk Advisor boot disk available on the net. The disk builder required Windows to run. This system is useful to diagnose failed disks.
You are strongly recommended to make a rescue disk and test it. Most distributions make on available and is often part of the installation disks. For some, such as the one for Redhat 6.1 the way to invoke the disk as a rescue disk is to type linux rescue at the boot prompt.
There are also specialised rescue disk distributions available on the net.
When need for it comes you will need to know where your root and boot partitions reside which you need to write down and keep safe.
Note: the difference between a boot disk and a rescue disk is that a boot disk will fail if it cannot mount the file system, typically on your hard disk. A rescue disk is self contained and will work even if there are no hard disks.
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