Saturday, August 14, 2010

HowTo: The Ideal Dual Boot Setup, Part I

So you've decided you want to install Ubuntu, but you're not quite ready to give up on Windows just yet. What's the most ideal setup you should use for your system? Well, doing this involves some math. You will be setting up multiple partitions on your computer as you begin the install process. In addition, you will require the following install discs: Windows (XP, Vista, 7, etc.) Installation CD-ROM (Not the upgrade disc, it has to be for a fresh install) (The instructions will be using Windows 7) Ubuntu 10.04 Alternate Installation CD-ROM Now, you need to get out a piece of paper and a pencil and write down the following two pieces of information about your computer: Hard Drive capacity and RAM inside your system. With this information, you will be determining how big the partitions you will be creating will be. In my case, it is a 160GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM. Copy the following table in order to help you determine what size each of your partitions should be:

Hard Drive Partition Allocation
Partition DescriptionFormatPartition Size
Windows C:\DriveNTFS
Windows Swap FileNTFS
Shared Windows/Ubuntu DriveNTFS
Ubuntu Installation Partitionext3 / ext4
Ubuntu Home Partitionext3 / ext4
Ubuntu SwapN/A
Some given calculations:
  • Your C:\ drive should be at least 20GB for Windows XP and at least 40 GB for Windows Vista or Windows 7.
  • Your Windows Swap File partitions should equal at least 1.5xRAM for XP or 2xRAM for Vista or 7.
  • Your shared data partition will be your largest, so make it last with all remaining space.
  • Your Ubuntu installation partition should be at least 10GB, but make it 20GB if you can.
  • Your /home partition does not need to be very big as most personal data will be stored on your shared drive, so make it 10GB at the most to cover your hidden files and whatnot
  • Your Ubuntu swap again should be 1.5-2xRAM, just as it was in Windows.
So, for my hard drive and RAM combination, I have the following setup:
Hard Drive Partition Allocation
Partition DescriptionFormatPartition Size
Windows C:\DriveNTFS40GB
Windows Swap FileNTFS4GB
Shared Windows/Ubuntu DriveNTFS88GB
Ubuntu Installation Partitionext3 / ext420GB
Ubuntu Home Partitionext3 / ext45GB
Ubuntu SwapN/A3GB
So there's the Math. That's what you do before you even think about taking your computer, reformatting, and deleting all existing partitions. In Part Two, I'll get into the actual installation process further.