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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25 Responses

  1. Very useful article. Thanks!

    Quick question (re: Tip 5), how should i add an entry to the Windows boot menu to point to the GRUB that i have installed on another partition? What does the entry in the boot.ini look like?

    I can’t use EasyBCD as i have Windows XP only.

  2. Hi finid and Kurt,

    on Sept. 13, 2012 @ 6:58pm Kurt said,
    > In my opinion, the best way to dual boot windows and
    > linux, is to use two hard drives, install windows to
    > the first hard drive (skip that step if preinstalled),
    > then disconnect this drive, install another hard drive
    > as the first hard drive and install linux. Then connect
    > the windows drive as the SECOND hard drive. Boot into
    > linux and edit the grub.conf file to add an entry to
    > boot windows using the chainloader. As windows will
    > only boot if it is the first drive, use the grub map
    > command to switch the first and second drives. No
    > changes at all are made to the windows drive MBR or
    > anything else, and windows will just boot when you
    > select it from the grub boot menu.

    Help me out here please. I currently have the installer running for Debian Squeeze netinst ver. 6.0.6. I’m at the partition set-up screen.

    I will be dual-booting (win2k and Debian). Windows 2000 has its own hard drive and is currently fully operational. I installed another drive for Debian. Both drives are on the same cable (win2k drive set to ‘master’ and debian drive set to ‘slave’).

    I have backed up all data on my windows drive and even cloned it to another drive that I keep in storage. Therefore I’m ok on the back-up warning.

    My system is a legacy system. Its a “dual” Pentium III total 2.0 GHz cpu with 1 gig of DDR RAM running windows 2000 spk 4. I built the system in 2001. The motherboard is an iWill-DVD266R with max capacity of 4 gigs for DDR memory. I currently have 1 gig installed of DDR.

    This win2k system is still my main desktop and is a real workhorse. I do utilize newer OS’s on other systems but this is the system I’d prefer to utilize as a dual-boot.

    QUESTION #1 Please
    Can I still utilize the article that ‘finid’ wrote titled, “Dual Booting Win7 and Ubuntu 12.04 using two hard drives” for my ‘Debian Squeeze netinst’ install using two separate drives? Or do I need to be concerned with Kurt’s option described above?

    Kurt’s excellent alternative is too advanced for me as this is my first Linux install? I can easily understand finid’s tutorial.

    QUESTION #2 Please:
    Also, do I need to be concerned about the UEIF firmware issue that was addressed in another tutorial as it relates to my ‘dual’ pentium III system? The tutorial is titled, “Dual-boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12.04 on a PC with UEFI board, SSD and HDD”.

    see: http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2012/10/10/dual-boot-windows-7-and-ubuntu-12-04-on-a-pc-with-uefi-board-ssd-and-hdd/

    Thank you

  3. Hi finid and Kurt,

    on Sept. 13, 2012 @ 6:58pm Kurt said,
    > In my opinion, the best way to dual boot windows and
    > linux, is to use two hard drives, install windows to
    > the first hard drive (skip that step if preinstalled),
    > then disconnect this drive, install another hard drive
    > as the first hard drive and install linux. Then connect
    > the windows drive as the SECOND hard drive. Boot into
    > linux and edit the grub.conf file to add an entry to
    > boot windows using the chainloader. As windows will
    > only boot if it is the first drive, use the grub map
    > command to switch the first and second drives. No
    > changes at all are made to the windows drive MBR or
    > anything else, and windows will just boot when you
    > select it from the grub boot menu.

    Help me out here please. I currently have the installer running for Debian Squeeze netinst ver. 6.0.6. I’m at the partition set-up screen.

    I will be dual-booting (win2k and Debian). Windows 2000 has its own hard drive and is currently fully operational and I installed another drive for Debian. Both drives are on the same cable (win2k drive set to ‘master’ and debian drive set to ‘slave’).

    I have backed up all data on my windows drive and even cloned it to another drive that I keep in storage. Therefore I’m ok on the back-up warning.

    My system is a legacy system. Its a “dual” Pentium III total 2.0 GHz cpu with 1 gig of DDR RAM running windows 2000 spk 4. I built the system in 2001. The motherboard is an iWill-DVD266R with max capacity of 4 gigs for DDR memory. I currently have 1 gig installed of DDR.

    This win2k system is still my main desktop and is a real workhorse. I do utilize newer OS’s on other systems but this is the system I’d prefer to utilize as a dual-boot.

    Can I still utilize the article that ‘finid’ wrote titled, “Dual Booting Win7 and Ubuntu 12.04 using two hard drives” for my ‘Debian Squeeze netinst’ install using two separate drives? Or do I need to be concerned with Kurt’s option described above?

    Kurt’s excellent alternative is too advanced for me as this is my first Linux install? I can easily understand finid’s tutorial.

    Also, do I need to be concerned about the UEIF firmware issue that was addressed in another tutorial as it relates to my ‘dual’ pentium III system? The tutorial is titled,
    “Dual-boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12.04 on a PC with UEFI board, SSD and HDD”.

    see: http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2012/10/10/dual-boot-windows-7-and-ubuntu-12-04-on-a-pc-with-uefi-board-ssd-and-hdd/

    Thank you

    1. Your mobo is too old for you to be concerned about UEFI. So, don’t worry about that.

      I don’t necessarily agree with Kurt’s suggestion, as it introduces unnecessary manual tasks. When dual-booting on 2 hard drives, make the Linux drive the primary or default boot disk. That way, you do not have to do any manual setup after installing the Linux distribution. The Linux installer will automatically add an entry for Windows in GRUB’s menu. And you do not have to disconnect the Windows drive.

      Use the new article that I just wrote, but ignore the part about UEFI, as your mobo does not have that firmware. You might also want to read this article.

      1. Finid,

        I’m with you on putting Linux on the first or primary drive and putting the Windows disk as the second drive. As far as I know, there is no practicable way to do this except to first install Windows with the disk as the first drive, as that is the only way windows will install, and then move it to be the second drive either physically or with the BIOS if your BIOS will do that. Then yes, install another hard drive as the first hard drive and put Linux on it. If you have a very clever installer, it may put the correct entry in GRUB to boot the windows disk, but the issue is that Windows must think it is the first hard disk or it won’t boot. That is what the map entry is for in grub.conf. It will swap the drive order before booting Windows with the chainloader. I am not aware that the typical Linux installer will do this correctly, but then I don’t know much.

        The point of not having the windows drive connected while you are installing Linux is to make sure that nothing is changed on the Windows drive. The computer case is already open, so connecting the drive or not is no big deal.

        The only tricky part is putting the correct entry in grub.conf, but even here, it won’t hurt anything if done incorrectly. After it is set up, no further mucking around in the internals is required.

        Anyway, that is just my 2 cents, and I hope you don’t mind me throwing it into the pot.

        Kurt

          1. Well I guess that will put Grub on the second drive, but the point of the procedure I was outlining is that it does not touch the windows drive at all.

            Kurt

    1. No specific distribution was used for this article. I just used an image from way back to illustrate a point. I could have used anyone from any other distro.

  4. “the best approach for dual-booting, is to locate the Windows system partition on the SSD”

    Why? I can see you’re looking for an easy solution but if you’re primarily using linux, you’re not getting much of the benefits of SSD.

      1. You’re right, the tips are apparently geared towards people who use “Linux as an alternate system”.

        Perhaps in the next iteration of these tips, the author wants to include information for those who’d like to set up Linux on the SSD.

          1. (I hadn’t seen before you’re the author)

            In a setup with 2 drives, you’d install windows first and then linux, regardless what you use the most. That’s the order of installing.

            If these 2 drives are a normal hd and a ssd, why would i place windows on the ssd if i’ll be using linux more than windows?

            In other words, why is it recommended to locate linux on the hd? Can’t linux boot from a ssd?

  5. As a guide for someone completely new to dual booting this is a quite good guide. A hands-up would be on step 3 in the event the computer came pee-installed with 4 primary partitions on a disk with a msdos partition table. In this case shrinking a partition is pointless as a disk with msdos partition table only can hold 4 primary partitions. In this case you need to make a decision:

    1) don’t touch the disk and use a second hard drive
    2) move the data from for example the “User data” partition to the root partition and replace it with an extended partition. (The “user data” partition may then be recreated as a logical partition within the extended partition if so desired)
    3) consider installing linux on an image file within the windows partition (not recommended – as this is fragile, but it is ok for uncommitted testing) – Ubuntu do this easily using the Wubi installer.
    4) Install to an external disk – memory stick – linux is in fact reasonable fast even running from USB sticks, but an external USB 3.0 disk would run great! (notice that booting with USB 3.0 support might require grub to add the boot parameter “pci=nomsi”.

    In two disk setup I would actually recommend considering backup partitions, and partitions for increased performance on the opposite disks. I would create a partition to store the windows pagefile.sys within an NTFS partition on the opposing disk for windows, and a swap partition or partition holding a swap file on the disk opposing linux. The same is the case for backup partitions.

    Another comment – Whereas linux is good for trouble shooting windows problems, windows is not good for troubleshooting linux problems. For this it is better to keep a boot-able rescue cd or live usb stick handy. I do actually tend to install a rescue partition on the second disk.

  6. In my opinion, the best way to dual boot windows and linux, is to use two hard drives, install windows to the first hard drive (skip that step if preinstalled), then disconnect this drive, install another hard drive as the first hard drive and install linux. Then connect the windows drive as the SECOND hard drive. Boot into linux and edit the grub.conf file to add an entry to boot windows using the chainloader. As windows will only boot if it is the first drive, use the grub map command to switch the first and second drives. No changes at all are made to the windows drive MBR or anything else, and windows will just boot when you select it from the grub boot menu.

    See this thread:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=275728

    Kurt

      1. Well no, you can’t do this with out disconnecting and reconnecting the windows drive. But you only have to do it once. The point is, under this scenerio, you want The linux drive to be the first drive with the MBR so that the computer will boot grub. Then you can select from the grub menu which operating system to boot. Grub will take care of making the windows drive think it is the first drive using the grub map command. The beauty of this is that you can add a linux drive/OS to an existing Windows system without changing a thing on the windows drive except swapping the cables. I like to keep the windows drive disconnected during the Linux install to prevent accidents.

        Try it sometime. It’s sweet.

        Kurt

          1. I guess you could say “It depends” SATA drives are ordered by the connector on the motherboard, although which drive is the boot drive or number one drive can be set in the bios of some, but not all motherboards.

            If you can select the boot drive through the bios or by a function key at boot, then you can connect your windows or linux drive as you wish, and just select the drive you want to boot through the bios. If you cannot use the bios to select the boot drive, or don’t want to use it, then setting up grub as I described above is the way to go.

            Kurt

    1. As far as laptops are concerned, most don’t have two internal hard drives. Furthermore, many laptops cannot have two internal hard drives fitted and many people don’t want to cart around an external hard drive with a laptop. In such cases the only solution if one wants to dual boot is to use the internal hard drive for both operating systems.

  7. Regarding your tip no. 5, there is another reason why it is better to use the Windows boot loader to chainload the Linux boot loader in the boot sector of a partition: many desktop and laptop machines have a hidden ‘factory restore’ partition for Windows, which you can invoke using certain keypresses at boot. Some manufacturers put code for that in the MBR, so if you install the Linux boot loader there you may overwrite it. See e.g. http://fitzcarraldoblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/the-best-way-to-dual-boot-linux-and-windows/

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