Alternate titles: How to create partitions in Ubuntu 12.10 manually; Manual disk partitioning guide for Ubuntu 12.10.

Ubiquity, the graphical installation program of Ubuntu Desktop, got some much-needed feature-enhancements in the latest edition of the popular Linux distribution. Two features that have been standard in the installation programs of other distributions finally got implemented. (One of them, is only partially implemented, but half a loaf is better than none.)

The two features are:

A. Full Disk Encryption : Support for encrypting users’ home directory has been in Ubiquity for a long time, but as a physical security tool, home directory encryption is only effective on a multi-account system, where, if implemented or enabled, other users will not be able to access your data from their login session.
Create User Account

With full disk encryption, however, the system will not boot if the correct disk encryption passphrase is not specified. At every reboot, the person sitting in front of the computer with full disk encryption configured, will see the prompt shown below. No correct passphrase, no complete bootup. That’s a very important component of a good physical security posture.
Ubuntu Encryption Passphrase

B. Linux Logical Volume Manager: The Linux Logical Volume Manager (LVM) has always been supported in the Alternate Installer edition of Ubuntu. But now that that edition has been discontinued, it is good to see LVM in Ubiquity. LVM makes it very easy to manage disk space, especially when it comes to resizing partitions and adding another hard drive to the system. It also has snapshotting built-in. The major drawback of LVM is it does not have redundancy built-in. So in a multi-disk LVM system, if one disk fails, you are in trouble. There are workarounds and advanced implementations of LVM that address that issue, but a plain-vanilla LVM is a data loss waiting to happen. But in more than a decade of using LVM on my personal computers, I have yet to lose a disk.

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A major issue with LVM implementation in Ubuntu 12.10, is that manual LVM configuration does not work. Only the automated scheme works. As shown in the image below, the installer will allow you to create an encrypted Physical Volume from the Advanced Partitioning Tool’s partition creation window, but there is no facility to create Logical Volumes afterwards.
Disk Encryption Passphrase

This screen shot shows the Advanced Partitioning Tool window after I had created an encrypted Physical Volume. There is no option to create Logical Volumes. If there is, then I need more than a new pair of glasses.
Encrypted Partitions

Clicking Install Now when there are no Logical Volumes will always bring up this window. So unless I completely missed a button on the installer for creating Logical Volumes, there’s still more work to do on LVM in Ubiquity.
Partition Error

That ends a short introduction to the new features in Ubiquity. The rest of this article provides information on how to use the automated partitioning options, and a step-by-step guide on how to use the installer’s Advanced Partitioning Tool to create partition manually.

While attempting to install Ubuntu 12.10, you will eventually come to the step shown in the screen shot below. It is the disk partitioning methods step. The options here are easy to understand. The system used for this tutorial had a brand new disk, so the installer did not detect any OS on it. If it had, you would have seen options to either replace the existing OS or install Ubuntu 12.10 alongside it.

The second and third options in this screen shot are the new features discussed in this articles introduction. They are not enabled by default, so if you want to configure full disk encryption and LVM, you will have to make sure that those check boxes are checked. The last option (Something else) is what you choose if you want to create partitions manually.
Ubuntu Install Methods

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Here’s the same screen shot with the two new features enabled. On a laptop or desktop installation, it is highly recommended that you enable full disk encryption. There’s no downside to it, provided you do not forget or lose the encryption passphrase. LVM is optional, though nice to have too. On personal computers that I use for serious computing, I will never use a distribution that does not have support for LVM, but that’s just me. I tend to like features that make life easy.
Install Methods

When disk encryption is enabled, the installer will prompt you for the passphrase that will be used to encrypt the disk. The problem with Ubiquity, as shown in this screen shot, is that it will accept a 1-character passphrase, which is not a good idea. Actually, it’s very bad, so do not specify a 1-character passphrase, if you really want to boost the physical security profile of your computer.
Encryption Passphrase

The next three screen shots show what I encountered while putting this article together. After setting up the partitions manually, the installer issued this warning. Clicking Ignore or Cancel did not help.
Install Reboot

It only brought up another window.
Install Error

And then, this. The only solution was to reboot, which meant that I lost the partitions. Which also meant that I had to recreate them. But that was the only way that I could complete the installation. This is not unique to Ubiquity. Mandriva‘s installer does the same thing.
Install Error

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21 Responses

  1. @finid:

    What do you think of the disappearing global menu and the Mac OS-like left positioning of the window buttons.

    (Would have used Ubuntu 11.10 to introduce folks to Linux. Looks like it’s going to be Mint 12 – the RC runs great on my ThinkPad T61 so far.)

    I’m surprised you prefer Unity to GNOME Shell 🙂 Great review BTW.

    Thanks.

    1. I’ve been using Ubuntu almost exclusively for the past 3 weeks. Overall, it’s not much better than GNOME 3. These new desktops look good at first glance, but with time, you get to see how much they get in the way.

      Mint 12, with MGSE looks a little bit better, but also not by much. That’s my opinion after 1 day of use. Might change my opinion after a week or two, but certain aspects of it are just as annoying as the others.

      Eventually, I’m moving back to KDE 4. With this pair, desktop computing will be a lot less annoying.

      1. Unity, GNOME, KDE:
        KDE has weathered the storm of transitioning from 3.x to 4.x & has now been polished beyond imagination. (Waiting for Chakra/Pardus/Mageia to mature.) Hopefully, Unity & GNOME will evolve into awesome interfaces too. GNOME-Do + Cairo-Dock helps get around some of the aggravations of Shell. Been using Mint 12 RC since release… I like it so far.

        You might have already seen this, but Unity is a lot more usable using keyboard shortcuts. I even had this as my wallpaper for a while http://www.webupd8.org/2011/04/ubuntu-unity-keyboard-shortcuts.html

        Yeah, with MGSE, GNOME shell should be easier for my parents (fervently hope so :)). Otherwise, I’ll just have them use LM 9. I’m choosing Mint for my folks ‘coz Clem & team really seem to make sane decisions and using feedback well. Hope Mint supports LVM, btrfs & disk encryption in future.

        Thanks for your reply.

  2. I have literally experience non of the problems you guys are having with the ram usage and hardware. I’ve tweaked up ubuntu 11.10 enough so that i will be able to get some things on. If you guys read at all, they made ubuntu less configurable because they wanted to get the defaults down before they could have people start tweaking it. This makes SO MUCH sense because its a WHOLE new UI. They are going the right way with this, obviously there needed to be a change if Linux still wasnt going forward as much as it could. I can guarantee you that gnome 3 wasnt going to change that so ubuntu decided to try their own thing.

  3. haters gonna hate for the sake of hating. I install this on a wide variety of machines, it works perfectly and unity is good. don’t listen to the haters, their just hating to hate.

  4. Wow, seriously, for the first time since 1995, I have actually come across a Linux distro which I’m embarrassed to show to my colleagues. It’s buggy (I keep getting a “black screen of death”!!!), sound is broken, unloading USB drives crashes the kernel with a kernel panic, directory structure is broken (/var/run/), Unity is a POS that would make Microsoft 3.1 proud, and overall the entire experience with the entire OS feels lethargic and constraining which is exactly the opposite feeling to what Linux normally provides and the reason I have avoided other operating systems.

    I truly truly truly am disappointed in this version of Ubuntu.

    I can forgive a lot, but in this case we should take the Ubuntu decision makers who approved this POS and give them some serious atomic wedgies. How could they approve this for general distribution?

  5. i have successfully installed gnome-shell from the software center in few minutes which also come with gnome classic session (an option not offered by any other non ubuntu based distro.and installed kubuntu and xubuntu on top of it and all work flawlessly especially kubuntu (now snappier than sabayon).debian is an untamed outdated distro, mint is ubuntu after 3 weeks of tweaking (when all the bugs are already fixed),claiming that they are something else is absurd and hilarious(it takes them a month to make it while it takes ubuntu 6 months and opensuse 8-9 months! yeah we believe them!!).ubuntu is premiere linux distro for a reason (taking chances)and they have the best developers, jealousy is cancer of opensource community and it stinks .

    1. OpenSUSE has an 8 months release cycle so it will be more stable and also to align with KDE releases.

      Ubuntu has become too buggy and broken. That’s why people are starting to turn away from it.

  6. I guess it is secure;if you can’t even use your own desktop how could someone else use it? I can’t even imagine someone not out of their mind putting trash like this out for the public to use. This is the worst trash I’ve ever seen and makes Microsoft look good which is hard to do.

  7. Yeah well I understood Gnome 3 was in the software center.I couldn’t find it ;or even other things I was used to finding.I would try Gnome 3 but maybe it is time to try Fedora or maybe Debian. I found similar problems in Kubuntu except for that *** awful Unity. Yes Kubuntu 11:10 was broken too if you try to use it on wi-fi.

  8. I was looking forward to the 11:10 until updating broke my laptop dualboot. I put it on my desktop to see what it really is like. Ubuntu 11:10 reminds me of Windows Vista yeah IMO it sucks that bad.I like Mint better on a desktop anyway and heck Super OS is Ubuntu plus but I can’t see myself ever using Ubuntu again unless they fix this mess like 10:10 which I had to put on my destroyed laptop. I guess I was a fool but I trusted Ubuntu lol never again.

  9. Ubuntu isn’t actually using 2 GB of ram -but rather RESERVING IT. Different than Windows. Unity 2D iin 11.10 is great especially if you’re having any problem with speed or unresolved bugs (new OS’s allways have them)

  10. I have been using Ubuntu for years now. I have frowned a few times but, they seem to fix it before I get time to complain. That is until now; 11.10 is junk and has forced me to go back to 10.04 LTS. I hear Gnome has done the same thing messed up a great desktop

  11. I used Ubuntu for 6 years now and made other use it too, but this last version is the worst ever, I find myself with tied hands if front of it, that freakin’ launcher drives me crazy, all the flexibility is lost. I still hope ubuntu guys will come to their senses and dump the unity or make it usable, until then I am not using it and recommend the same to others.

    good luck ubuntu!!!

  12. I use ubuntu because it was simple and easy, and I was using it for years. But everything is lost. Unity not only drives me crazy and it slows down my PC. I can’t get a single work done. Useless at all. I have switched to OpenSuse. It’s great and that’s better.

    1. If you have a PC with less 2 GB of RAM, it will definitely slow it down. I’m writing this on a PC with 4 GB of RAM and the output of free -m says that it is using more than 2.1 GB of RAM, with just Firefox (2 tabs open) running. That is a huge memory footprint.

      In spite of that and several other issues, I’m warming up to it.

  13. Unity makes me physically ill. KDE 4.0 was 1000 times better than Unity will ever be, and we all know how godaweful that was.

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