Partitioning Before and During Installation

Partitioning your hard drive for Linux can be done before or during installation.

If you plan to prepare your partitions before installing Linux, you will need to use commercial partitioning software. Some of the popular commercial software utilities you can use to create Linux partitions are Symantec's PartitionMagic or VCOM Products' Partition Commander. Alternatively, it might be possible to prepare partitions before installing Ubuntu by using the free fips.exe command.

If you want to partition a hard drive using an existing Linux system, you can attach the hard drive to a spare IDE channel, and then use the Linux fdisk or GNU parted partitioning utilities. Both utilities offer a way to interactively partition and prepare storage media. Linux recognizes IDE hard drives using a device name such as /dev/hda (for the master device on IDE channel 0), /dev/hdb (for the slave device on IDE channel 0), /dev/hdc (for the master device on IDE channel 1), and /dev/hdd (for the slave device on IDE channel 1).

If a new hard drive is properly attached to your PC and you then boot Linux, you can see whether the kernel recognizes the device by viewing the output of the dmesg command. You can then use fdisk with the device name to begin partitioning like so:

Note that you will need root permission, and in this example, the new drive is attached as a slave on IDE channel 0. Do not change partitioning on your root device, or you will bork your system! The fdisk command is interactive, and you can press M to get help when using the utility. You can use parted in much the same way if you specify the i, or interactive option on the command line like so:

To get help when using parted interactively, press ? or type help followed by a command keyword. The parted command has other helpful features, such as the capability to copy a file system directly from one partition to another.

Finally, you can prepare partitions ahead of installation by booting your system using a live Linux distribution (such as the LNX Bootable Business Card, available at and then using a native Linux utility such as fdisk to partition your drive.

You can use the Ubuntu CD or the DVD to perform other tasks aside from installing Linux.

The CD-ROM/DVD features a rescue mode and can also be used to partition and prepare a hard drive for Linux. See Chapter 3.

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