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Disk partitioning strategy for interim OS

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January 12, 2010 5:39:45 AM

Not sure in what forum this belongs, but a few questions about OS & disk partitioning.

Basics of my system are:
ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO
AMD Athlon II 620 (2.6 Ghz quadcore)
4 Gb DDR3 1066 RAM
WD Caviar Black 750 GB HDD (nothing loaded on it yet)

My primary OS will be Windows of some variety and I'll also want a VM instance or 2 running either 64 bit or 32 bit Linux (probably Ubuntu). Nothing hard core, just want to learn Linux, do a bit of Java web development for my work, and maybe even play around with a LAMP stack. Provided I have enough CPU & RAM I'd rather do VM than dual boot.

Until I change my primary OS to be 64 bit (probably Win7 Home Edition), I want to load WinXP 32 bit and have VM running 64 bit or 32 bit Linux.

I'm seeking advice on a basic and easily manageable strategy for disk partitioning. My goal is to have a WinXP partition that can be wiped clean and used for Win7 with minimal disturbance to anything else.


1) Can I even run 64 bit Linux in a VM off of WinXP 32 bit?

2) What would be the best partition strategy given the above?

3) I see quite a bit of disk partition freeware (Parted Magic, Patition Wizard, Easus Parition Master Home Edition). Some of it doesn't appear to support 64-bit OS or Linux. Is this a concern in a mixed 32/64 bit environment? Or does that only refer to the OS from which it is run to create the partition?

4) Some of the free disk partition freeware is CD bootable. Does this mean one can parition the HDD before loading an OS? When & where would the formatting of the disk occur to NTFS and Ext3 or FAT32. What are the pros/cons to doing this?

5) How do I deal with OS specific updates for my Mobo (e.g. BIOS, BIOS Utilities, etc.)?

6) Any other thoughts/advice?


It seems that running VMs with a virtual disk might be the simplest approach: fewest partitions and allows all of them to be NTFS.

Thanks.

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a b G Storage
January 12, 2010 3:21:11 PM

BHBoy said:
Not sure in what forum this belongs, but a few questions about OS & disk partitioning.

Basics of my system are:
ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO
AMD Athlon II 620 (2.6 Ghz quadcore)
4 Gb DDR3 1066 RAM
WD Caviar Black 750 GB HDD (nothing loaded on it yet)

My primary OS will be Windows of some variety and I'll also want a VM instance or 2 running either 64 bit or 32 bit Linux (probably Ubuntu). Nothing hard core, just want to learn Linux, do a bit of Java web development for my work, and maybe even play around with a LAMP stack. Provided I have enough CPU & RAM I'd rather do VM than dual boot.

Until I change my primary OS to be 64 bit (probably Win7 Home Edition), I want to load WinXP 32 bit and have VM running 64 bit or 32 bit Linux.

I'm seeking advice on a basic and easily manageable strategy for disk partitioning. My goal is to have a WinXP partition that can be wiped clean and used for Win7 with minimal disturbance to anything else.


1) Can I even run 64 bit Linux in a VM off of WinXP 32 bit?

2) What would be the best partition strategy given the above?

3) I see quite a bit of disk partition freeware (Parted Magic, Patition Wizard, Easus Parition Master Home Edition). Some of it doesn't appear to support 64-bit OS or Linux. Is this a concern in a mixed 32/64 bit environment? Or does that only refer to the OS from which it is run to create the partition?

4) Some of the free disk partition freeware is CD bootable. Does this mean one can parition the HDD before loading an OS? When & where would the formatting of the disk occur to NTFS and Ext3 or FAT32. What are the pros/cons to doing this?

5) How do I deal with OS specific updates for my Mobo (e.g. BIOS, BIOS Utilities, etc.)?

6) Any other thoughts/advice?


It seems that running VMs with a virtual disk might be the simplest approach: fewest partitions and allows all of them to be NTFS.

Thanks.


Answers...

1. You may need to ensure that the processor supports 64 architecture. I think for AMD, look for the AMD-V tagging on the box or AMD's website to confirm. If it does then you are good to go!

2. 750GB, I would reserve about 80GB for the OS itself, then a 150GB for VM's and another partition for the rest for your every day data. These number are of course not written in stone, or you could actually purchase a couple of smaller drives for each VM and connect via USB/Firewire or eSata.

3. I'm not sure how to answer this question, are you referring to the system OS or the actual VM's?

4. If you will be installing XP or Windows 7 as the system OS, then yes, the media (install disk) itself has this functionality. I would recommend NTFS as the filesystem for Windows. Please refer to this link for further clarification: http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/2801/exfat_versus_fat32_...

5. This would be through the motherboard utilities or the motherboard website. Typical instructions would be included via the MB manual on the mentioned website.

6. A virtual machine is a tightly isolated software container that can run its own operating systems and applications as if it were a physical computer. A virtual machine behaves exactly like a physical computer and contains it own virtual (ie, software-based) CPU, RAM hard disk and network interface card (NIC).

An operating system can’t tell the difference between a virtual machine and a physical machine, nor can applications or other computers on a network. Even the virtual machine thinks it is a “real” computer. Nevertheless, a virtual machine is composed entirely of software and contains no hardware components whatsoever. As a result, virtual machines offer a number of distinct advantages over physical hardware.

Thus in it's basic form, a virtual machine creates a file and within this file lies the VM. You can specify the size of the VM (file).

I have VMWare running with the following OS's:

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 for beta testing
Windows Vista Professional x64 for beta testing
Windows XP x86 for beta testing
Ubuntu x86 and x64 for testing.

You will have to keep in mind that with 4GB of RAM, you will be very limited to resourcing available for each VM. You could end up with running out RAM space by having 3 machines open.

Hardware virtualization technology or VT is built-in natively by CPU processors. In Intel chip, the VT is called Intel VT, while AMD calls it AMD-V. The VT capability in the processor on the computer is built onto the the tiny piece of chip, and cannot be added or removed using any manual process. And even if the CPU features VT, it must be enabled in BIOS.

Most newer CPU includes VT operation by default. However, some older or even current processors available for purchase for DIY or operating on OEM computer may not support VT. When there is no VT support, Windows Virtual PC may fail to install or cannot be powered up and started virtual machine with following error message:

Cannot Windows Virtual PC host process. Check the System event log for more details.

Windows Virtual PC requires hardware-assisted virtualization. There is no hardware-assisted virtualization support in the system.

I'm not sure about VMWare.

I hope I actually answered your questions.... :D 
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January 12, 2010 5:59:44 PM

Thanks Elmo. Yes, my system supports virtualization and I realize my RAM will limit me a bit. Some follow-up from my original questions:

3) Let me rephrase this one. Can a drive be partitioned with one software, and then manage it with other partitioning software? The EASUS partition freeware only works on 32 bit OS. I wouldn't want to start partitioning with it in XP 32 bit, then switch to Win7 64 bit and have troubles because I'm then using a different partitioning software. Or can multiple partitioning software be used to manage the same partitions one drive?

4) To clarify, something like Parted Magic is CD bootable and sounds like you can run the software & partition drives before installing an OS. If that is the case, any idea what the pros/cons are to doing that?

5) My Mobo has BIOS and driver updates for each OS (Win7, WinXP, Linux, etc.). Would I need the updated Linux BIOS & drivers if I'm only running Linux in a virtualized environment?
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a b G Storage
January 12, 2010 6:28:15 PM

BHBoy said:
Thanks Elmo. Yes, my system supports virtualization and I realize my RAM will limit me a bit. Some follow-up from my original questions:

3) Let me rephrase this one. Can a drive be partitioned with one software, and then manage it with other partitioning software? The EASUS partition freeware only works on 32 bit OS. I wouldn't want to start partitioning with it in XP 32 bit, then switch to Win7 64 bit and have troubles because I'm then using a different partitioning software. Or can multiple partitioning software be used to manage the same partitions one drive?

4) To clarify, something like Parted Magic is CD bootable and sounds like you can run the software & partition drives before installing an OS. If that is the case, any idea what the pros/cons are to doing that?

5) My Mobo has BIOS and driver updates for each OS (Win7, WinXP, Linux, etc.). Would I need the updated Linux BIOS & drivers if I'm only running Linux in a virtualized environment?


Answer....

3. I would say yes, as I have created partitions via Windows OS and then use Acronis Disk Director or reduce or increase the partition size. I'm also certain that the partitions are not related to the architecture of the OS i.e Windows x86 partitioned drive and then perform an new install to x64 on the same drive. I have performed this multiple times. It's the 'type' or filesystem that the partition is formatted with that is a concern. For example it's recommended to use NTFS filesystem when installing Windows, but you may want to take heed in the fact that if you partition drive and use a 'Riser' filesystem, then you will be out of luck, you will have to reformat the drive for Windows NTFS (recommended choice).

4. Sure why not as long as the filesystem used is supported by Windows. I've used Acronis and Paragon products to partition and format.

5. Nope! The VM created will have it's own virtual or emulated BIOS and is not dependant on the physical BIOS i.e it don't matter if you have version 1.2 or 3.4.

Hope this helps and is not confusing.
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January 12, 2010 6:31:34 PM

Thanks Elmo! I've been hesitant to date, but now "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"
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a b G Storage
January 12, 2010 6:36:39 PM

BHBoy said:
Thanks Elmo! I've been hesitant to date, but now "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"


Keep me informed please, thanks!
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