Knowing Linux, there’s probably closer to 20,001 ways to partition your disk during installation. One partitioning method I want to avoid is partitioning a drive by using the Command Prompt – I’m a basic desktop user, and feel the Command Prompt belongs back in the days of DOS – it’s now 2019. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of info about partitioning, not any that can hold your attention for more than 20 seconds…as most of it seems incredibly written in a way that’s almost impossible to understand, and it seems the readings I’ve managed to get thru never worked. Every time I ‘Think’ I’ve figured out how to do it, the new Distro being tested throws a wrench into the ‘Partitioning Machine’ works. Seems most Linux users are looking for the “Erase disk” option, as I have for a long time. Used to look for “Install alongside” option, about 10 years ago, but that alongside option ended up creating a lot of extra work fixing boot managers and/or boot loaders. Over the past 8 months (since starting this blog), I seem to get a lot of the “Manual partitioning” options, and many of those times it is the only option being offered.
A lot of Linux Distros that I have tested on this blog seem to have a ‘Default’ option that goes into ‘Manual partitioning’ only, if the Distro’s installer spots or sniffs something different and/or a possible problem … e.g. using a USB Docking Station, for the installation drive, can cause some Distros to default to the “Manual partitioning” as only option. Sometimes a HDD instead of SSD sets it off, and I end up getting the “Manual partitioning” as the only option. Change from the USB Docking Station to the Hot Swap SATA Bay tray, and I usually get more options, including “Erase disk” option. I know Windows OSes want a direct connection to the motherboard at all times (usually SATA), but that is done because of Microsoft’s licensing protections; however, Linux doesn’t require such protection, and Distros are able to be installed thru the USB connections…usually and/or hopefully, anyway. Ubuntu (and many Ubuntu-based) seems to be the only Linux Distro that doesn’t go through these installation problems…in fact, Ubuntu seems to ‘Know’ what I’m trying to do, and gets it done – whether it’s a basic installation or an unusual installation like having Ubuntu share the same SSD as WIN10, but not an ‘Alongside’ sharing installation. A “Something else” installation option – e.g. Ubuntu and Windows 10 share a Laptop.
That “Manual partitioning” as the only option seems to strike fear into me, so yesterday I started working on a way to conquer that imagined fear. Gathered 10 Distro iso’s – some were already on test DVD’s, but 4 others needed to be burned to DVD’s. My plan was to go for the “Manual partitioning” option, even if the “Erase disk” option was also available. OOOPS! Just accidentally erased two days of pictures on this “Manual partitioning” fear project!? Knew I should’ve moved them from the USB to the Data SSD before I lost them…oh well. OK, I wanted to add better pics from an Ubuntu installation anyway, so I’ll go ahead with that, and then double back for a few of those other pics (fewer of those this time). Ubuntu doesn’t have a “Manual partitioning” option, they use a “Something else” option:
As you can see, they also offer the “Erase disk” option, but I will use the “Something else” option, and BTW, I trust Ubuntu and have no fear of that option. Now, part of my testing/experimenting involves prepping a disk with Gparted first. I create a new 300-500 MB fat32 partition, and then add the “boot” and “esp” flags. The remaining space gets created into a new ext4 partition without any flags … it looked like this after prepping with Gparted – before installation:
I continue after selecting the “Something else” option and move to:
That shows the prep work from Gparted, on a 250 GB test HDD. I highlight the fat32 /dev/sdb1 efi area to check it, and do nothing since it looks fine:
Next, I highlight *AND* select change the /dev/sdb2 ext4 area, and a popup shows up:
In that popup, I select “Ext4 journaling file sysyem” – then check Format the partition box, and then open the Mount Point dropdown menu and select “/” (w/o quotes)…click OK. That takes you back to:
Go to the bottom, open the dropdown menu of the “Device for boot loader installation” – select /dev/sdb1 (which is that fat32 partition) and then click Install Now, and the installation begins. Here is a Gparted pic of the HDD after installation:
The main change is a Mount Point – /target – has been added. Roughly the same thing can be done to a WIN7 or Win10 disk in order for Ubuntu to share that disk, without using the “Alongside” option – try that with any other Distro and you’ll probably end up throwing that disk away.
Knoppix is another Distro that doesn’t use “Manual partitioning” option, but it uses a ‘bare-bones’ installer that doesn’t offer much. First, take a look at the Gparted – before installation pic shown above…I did the same prep work with Gparted this time, but results ended up totally different. Here is the “start partitioner” pic:
The “auto” choice is probably the “Erase disk” option in other Distros and the “disk” choice to Use whole hard drive is their bare-bones “Manual partitioning” option. I selected disk Use whole hard drive, and went to next window:
Selected – /dev/sda 238475MB – it did the partitioning automatically and then went to this:
Selected the top choice – /dev/sda2 237450MB – and a slow installation began. Then Grub choice:
Select first choice – mbr install Grub. After installation, Gparted partitioning now looked like this:
The previous fat32 partition was now larger, and formatted to linux-swap. Ext4 was now reiserfs … whatever that is. Never know with most Linux Distros.
Next, I wanted to go with a Arch-based Distro – since Arch uses a DOS type of terminal installer which wouldn’t work for this post – and went with Namib (another Arch-based Buggy & Sluggish Toy OS)…well, I tried, but the Gnome version I had on DVD wouldn’t open its installer – will create a quick ‘Live’ USB of their flagship Mate 19.01 version (BTW, Namib was only Distro that couldn’t install using a DVD). OK…much better, and faster (no wonder “Enfant Terrible” lying Antifa Linux ‘Fanatical User‘ Orca doesn’t own a DVD-Rom, i.e. Namib doesn’t know what one is)…installer has opened. Perfect, this Toy OS apparently doesn’t know what a USB Docking Station is either, so it has opened only one option – the “Manual partitioning” option:
OK…need to add all kinds of stuff for this Toy OS to understand – we’ll keep size and fat32 format on sdb1, but add /boot/efi to Mount Point dropdown, and also check boot & esp (guessing here since Namib removed the Gparted prep settings I had).
On the sdb2 partition, we’ll Format it to ext4 (yes, a reformat), and select “/” in Mount Point dropdown – no flags:
Sorta a double-check here – Mount points are correct, so we are ready:
Good…Namib handled that “Manual partitioning” quite well after going to ‘Live’ USB Mate, and here is a pic on Gparted from newly Manually installed Namib:
Drive stayed about the same as after earlier prep work with Gparted – mainly, the installation just added the Mount Point inputs we added during the “Manual partitioning” option.
Have tested all the other DVD’s and it seems that the earlier mentioned – “testing/experimenting involves prepping a disk with Gparted first. I create a new 300-500 MB fat32 partition, and then add the “boot” and “esp” flags. The remaining space gets created into a new ext4 partition without any flags” – is not hurting anything, and may in fact be helping. Some stayed about the same, other than Mount Points being added…others installed fine, but made major changes to original Gparted prep work; however, all made it using the “Manual partitioning” and/or a form of it. Debian 10 “Buster” even seemed to worked better with the Gparted disk prep. Here are some pics of the “Buster” installation:
Looks like fat32 sda1 partition needs some additional info…add /boot to Mount Point, then reset flags:
Partition sda2 needs to be formatted to ext4 and “/” added to Mount Point dropdown:
A double-check then click next:
OK…summary and install:
Debian 10 doesn’t come with Gparted, so I’ll take the final installation Gparted partition pic from Ubuntu:
I’ll not fear “Manual partitioning” anymore…nor any other Linux Distro term for such partitioning. Personally, I would not try to install any of the other Distros on the same SSD as my WIN10 on ‘Ace’ the Laptop – Ubuntu seems to be the only trusted Linux Distro that can handle that type of partitioning, IMHO.