Install Mandriva Desktop 2011 on a btrfs file system

Mandriva Desktop 2011 will be the next stable release of the popular desktop Linux distribution developed by Mandriva, a Linux software publisher based in France. Screenshots from the second release candidate are available here.

Though the second release candidate still spots some bugs, the installer will not change when the stable edition is released on August 29, 2011. This article shows how to install Mandriva Desktop 2011, using a release candidate 2 installation ISO image, on a btrfs file system.

Btrfs, the B-tree File System, also known as the butter F S, is a copy on write filesystem relatively new to the Linux kernel. It is already the default file system on MeeGo, and slated to be the default on Fedora 16. Some enterprise-class features of btrfs are:

  • Writable and read-only snapshots
  • Support for RAID-0, 1 and 10
  • Internal volume management. Similar features provided by LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager
  • Checksums on data and metadata

It will at some point be the default file system on all Linux distributions, so if your distribution supports it, this is about a good time as any to start getting used to it. If you do not mind some adventure, grab an installation image of the second release candidate from here and use this short tutorial as a guide to install Mandriva Desktop 2011 on a btrfs file system. The first step is, of course, to burn the downloaded image to a DVD, then boot your computer (virtual or real) from the DVD.

The installation image is a Live image, so you can either boot into the Live desktop or start the installation straight from the boot menu. If you boot into the Live desktop, search for “Live install” program from the search box of the ROSA Launcher.

Whether you start the installation from the boot menu or from the Live desktop, you should see this window. This is where it starts. Click Next.
Initial Install Screen on Mandriva Desktop 2011

This is the partitioning methods steps. Btrfs is not the default file system, so to install Mandriva Desktop 2011 on btrfs, select “Custom disk partitioning.”
Disk Partitioning Screen on Mandriva Desktop 2011

Mandriva Desktop 2011 Btrfs Installation

The fun starts. The computer used for this tutorial has three hard drives connected to it – two internal and one external. The external disk (sdc) is the target disk. By installing to an external hard drive, I could have titled this tutorial, “how to install Mandriva Desktop 2011 on an external hard drive using the btrfs file system.” So, if your target disk is external, you may consider that as the title of this tutorial.

If there are existing partitions on the hard drive, as on my target disk, the first step is to delete them. To do that, select each partition and click the Delete button that should appear in the white space to the right.
Btrfs On Mandriva Desktop 2011

When the existing partitions have been deleted, time to start creating partitions. But before starting, you need to be in expert mode, so click on the Toggle to expert mode button. To install a distribution, any distribution, on a btrfs file system, you need to create partitions for /boot, Swap and /.
Install Mandriva Desktop 2011 on Btrfs

In expert mode, select the free space corresponding to the target disk and click Create. Note that you will need to repeat this step to create all the partitions.
Install Mandriva Desktop 2011 Btrfs

Partition one will be mounted at /boot. This is where boot-related file and programs will be installed. On a default installation of Mandriva Desktop, no separate boot partition is created, but 500 MB is the de facto disk space allocated to the boot partition on most Linux distributions. So, 500 MB should be a reasonable size for /boot. For file system, you may choose Linux native (ext2) or ext3 or ext4. As this is the first partition on the hard drive, the installer will create it as a primary partition, so you do not need to select any of the options under the “Preference” menu. Ok.
Btrfs On Mandriva Desktop 2011

The second partition will be used for Swap. This is a disk partition that the computer may use as virtual memory. To add a layer of physical security to the system, you may want to encrypt this partition, How much disk space should be allocated to Swap? Depends on how much you have available. As a guide, the installer allocates 4 GB of disk space to Swap, even on a 50 GB hard disk. If you do not want the installer to create the Swap partition as a logical partition, select “Primary” from the “Preference” menu, Ok.
Mandriva Desktop 2011 Encrypted Swap Partition

The last partition will be mounted at /. When I first thought about writing this tutorial, the intention was to provide a step-by-step guide on how to install Mandriva Desktop 2011 on an encrypted btrfs file system. However, at this step of the installation, I found that the Mandriva installer does not allow for the encryption of a partition mounted at /. Every other mount point can be encrypted, except for / and /boot.

So, select the mount point, file system (btrfs) and from the “Preference” menu, Select “Primary”, if you do not want the installer to create the partition as a logical partition. How much disk space you allocate to it will, of course, depend on how much you have available, and on whether you intend to use the hard drive for installing other distributions or operating systems. Click Ok to return to the main partitioning window.
Mandriva Desktop 2011 Desktop on Btrfs

With partitioning completed, click Done to continue with the rest of the installation.
Install Mandriva Desktop 2011 Btrfs

If the target disk is external, you have to be very careful at this step. By default, the installer will attempt to install GRUB, the boot loader, in the Master Boot Record (MBR) of the first hard drive. From the Boot device” menu select the hard drive that you want GRUB to be installed on. Next.
GRUB On Mandriva Desktop 2011 Using Btrfs

After installation, reboot and continue with the second stage of this installation process. Once that stage is completed, you should have yourself a btrfs-based Mandriva Desktop 2011 installation.

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