Partitioning for 300GB

My new Seagate Barracuda 300GB hard drive just arrived. I’ll need some time to redo my entire computer (currently there are 4 operating systems). Whenever I purchase a new harddrive (about once ever 2 years) I always put some serious evaluation into how I will partition it.

Some points I consider

  • Windows is primary operating system
  • A second Windows should be possible
  • Windows should have at least seperate ‘applications’ and ‘work’ partitions
  • Multiple Linux distributions should be possible (2-3)
  • Swap partition can be shared in Linux
  • At least /home partition should be shared in Linux

In truth I only have about 3-4 GB of actual work and about 6-8 GB of media to save. I also do not play any games or do any major video editting which leaves for a great deal of flexibility.

The 300GB is misleading. Given 300x1000^3 bytes, you will actually have about 279GB since each KB is 1024 bytes and so forth.

My current scheme for 279GB:

  • NTFS - Primary - 16GBWindows 2000 (currently using)
  • NTFS - Primary - 16GBWindows XP (testing only)
  • NTFS - Primary - 16GBOpen (possibly Windows Vista?)
  • Extended – remaining
    • NTFS - 40GBApplications (shared all Windows)
    • NTFS - 40GBData/Work (including all saved materials + including Media)
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 1 – Latest Fedora Core Release
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 2 – Previous Fedora Core Release
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 3 – Latest Fedora Core Test Release
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 4 – Possible x86_64 (pending hardware purchase)
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 5 – to be determined
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 6 – to be determined
    • EXT3 - 32GB/home – shared
    • EXT3 - 32GB/data – shared
    • SWAP - 2GB

Some notes I would like to mention from experience and what I’ve researched.

  • Bootable Partitions – There are no /boot partitions required since the newer bootloaders (i.e. grub) and modern BIOS’s do not impose any limitations on booting from an Extended partition. However Windows has always been fussy, hence I leave them on a Primary partition regardless.
  • Multiple Distributions – I am not sure if I need space for 6 different distributions, although if I do purchase an AMD 64bit system in the near future, then this will be required as I may wish to test as many 64bit Linux distributions as 32bit.
  • Multiple Windows – Additionally I’m not sure if I wish to test 2 alternate Windows versions. Currently Windows 2000 suits my needs, but future hardware may force me to use XP or something else.
  • NTFS vs FAT32 – Currently FAT32 is read and write in Linux, however NTFS is read-only. There are some options for write to NTFS, but I don’t find them very reliable. Using FAT32 in the past has caused data loss multiple times, hence I no longer use it.
  • SWAP – I recall reading that you should have at least as much swap as you do have physical memory to support things like Software Suspend to Disk (S4 – “Hibernate”). I currently have 1GB memory, if I upgrade to 2GB, I may require more space.
  • LVM – Logical Volume Management – I lack experience in LVM but with my current configuration, every single operating system can at least read every other partition (e.g. EXT3 in Windows). I am unsure how I can achieve this using LVM.

There will probably be some reassigned space before I decide on the final layout, but I am sure the above will work well for me.

I am not recommending the above for anyone! This is only just some planned out reasoning so that I never really have to sacrifice any properly configured operating system so I can try or experiment with a new OS. For anyone who may comment about emulation or virtualization – I do not feel it is practical to truly test certain aspects of the OS.

To Deutschland

When I started this blog it was a “fork of thoughts” from my main blog with a focus on software and linux. So how does a trip to Germany fit it? I decided I would try to take note of the basic differences I observed in computing. Granted Windows is used in far more public places that people realize (i.e. flight status monitors), but people don’t realize that Linux is used in just as many in on different scales.

Curious experience with in flight movie service.

When I flew to India in 2004 the airline carrier I flew provided a service similar to television. There were several “channels” which one could browse through and select, so that everyone viewing that same channel would be watching the same thing. However on this trip, the airline carrier had entertainment on demand service. There were several options: Movies, Music, Information and Games. Using your hand control you could watch any movie (fast forward, pause, stop) or select through hundred of songs or a few games. So the network in place had to provide 250 or more(?) unique feeds to passengers. How was this accomplished? Linux of course.

Sadly, I wish I did not know that. Why? The only reason I was able to determine this, was because the in-seat displays would reboot. Often! For a breif moment you could see the Linux penguin on the kernel boot information and then if you knew what you were seeing, there was a flash of the “X” cursor (which is part of the X-server) before the navigation system launched. Once running it was very nice but stabilty is just as nice. My system as well as the person next to me, infront of me and 2 of the 3 main public screens rebooted at least once.

Of course, this is all really irrelevant. A poorly configured system really has nothing to do with its components, but for a multi-million dollar (possibly global) deployment, the bugs should be out of the system! Glad to see Linux out there, but people might get a bad impression. That is … if they knew.

Nvidia Linux Drivers

Nvidia recently released an update (1.0-8174) to their high performance Linux video card drivers. Usually driver releases are done to support new hardware. In this case SLI series video cards and others such as the GeForce 6100, GeForce 6150 and GeForce 7800 GTX 512. Other than the driver itself, there were some significant changes made.

  • There is finally an HTML Readme. Previously the text based file was very hard to navigate. (BUT these HTML files do not work in Mozilla or Firefox due to improper mimetypes!!! )
  • This a nvidia-xconfig application included. The installer will properly configure your xorg.conf file. No need to do it manually.

From my installation it appears as though the installer has become more sophisticated, which is welcomed. Many Linux newbies have had frustrations with installing the Nvidia driver.

My FC4 Installation Guide has been updated to reflect this new release.

EDIT: Dec 23, 2005 There was an incremental update 1.0-8178. If everything worked from 8174, no upgrade is required.

Pocket Linux Server

About 2 years ago I purchased a Linux based PDA: the Sharp Zaurus SL-5500. The PDA was intended to be used on Windows and (later) Linux. The initial driver for Windows setup the device as a USB network device, however the latest driver set it up as a normal USB PDA. I found that using the older driver, I can assign an IP address to the device and configure it as a mini server. Although I no longer use it as a PDA, I have set up an Apache Web Server, MySQL database and PHP interpretter on it – all managed by setting up the SSH server. I sometimes plug it on various machines and do some web development or toy around with it.

I only recently heard of the Black Dog pocket Linux server. When plugged into ANY computer it will create a basic X-server and run a few basic (Linux) applications from the device within the host OS (Windows, Linux, etc.). It works similar to the Zaurus’ network capability over USB. Hence it can access anything the host computer can access. Even better it has an intelligent resume feature which can pretty much preserve your working desktop and resume it in place later on a different machine.

It ships with a 400Mhz process, 64MB RAM and base 256MB flash-based storage. My Zaurus, to compare, has 206Mhz, 32MB RAM and 64MB storage. Better yet it comes with a biometric scanner, is only 3.5 by about 2 inches in size, and already comes with Apache, SSH and several other programs ready to run. For about $250 you can get the 512MB model and if you plug in another SD card you can increase your storage easily.

Looks like I just found my Christmas present for myself.

Canon S500 in Fedora Core

I had written a really simple camera mini-guide for how I use my Canon S500 digital camera in Fedora Core 3. The other night I decided to update and make sure everything still works in Fedora Core 4 – and it did.

Guides like these, to me, are almost not necessary. I would tell someone, just make sure you have Gnome and gPhoto and your USB setup and your camera will “automagically” work. But that advice, to me, does not seem very tangible. In the Windows world, people are reassured by the fact that their hardware or peripheral comes with an installation CD. That seldom happens in the Linux world. People who are unsure whether or not hardware works correctly with Linux need some sort of valid proof that there is Linux support – this always seems to come from the community as opposed to the manufacturer. Personally, I research Linux compatibility for all of my hardware prior to purchasing. Guides like the one listed above, I hope, make someone feel more certain about their purchase.

Network Storage Device

As many have emphasized, Linux is exceptional in the server market. For consumers however, many do not realize servers can be very small scale and reduced to embedded devices. I’ve been working on a Linksys Network Storage Device for my home lan. Basically the device is a Linux server running on 133Mhz ARM Processor with 32MB of ram. However it comes with a 100Mbit network port and 2 individual USB2.0 ports. You can plug in harddrives or media devices into the USB ports and once you add it to your network you have a shared harddrive. Its a low power device which is very good alternative to building a full server doing the same work and much more affordable.

The folks at nslu2-linux.org have put together multiple extra software packages and guides on how to do much much more than just a file server. Some examples would be a Web server, Software Revision control (SVN), TV media recorder, iTunes music server, Windows Domain Controller, and the list goes on. My intended functions right now are a LAN DNS Server, basic webserver, revision control, NTP (network time server) on top of file serving. My idea is to relagate some functions I have on my computer and others on my network into 1 primary (low power) machine.

It’s not up and running yet. I found information to over clock the CPU to 266Mhz, and soder in a RS232 serial port so I can see booting information and access a command prompt. Lots to play with – more information when it’s all hooked up.