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Hard Drive Partitioning

Partitioning your hard drive is one of the trickiest tasks possible when installing a new operating system or trying something new. If you're hard drive is unstable, or if you do it incorrectly, you could lose data. Back up all your data before attempting anything on this website. Although not likely, you could lose data.

You Need
  • GParted - CD Rom that lets you change your partitions
  • Your OS - CD Rom that has your operating system to install on it.
  • An Hour - It will probably take roughly an hour to complete everything succesfully.
Partitioning your hard drive will require the use of the GParted live CD. Download the .iso file and burn it onto a CD (here's Infrarecorder, an Open Source CD Burner). You'll then insert this CD into your computer, and restart. If your computer restarts back to your operating system, you will need to enter the BIOS by pressing F2, F8, or F12 sometime during startup. It varies from computer to computer. In the settings you will need to make the CD-ROM drive bootable before the Hard Drive.

If you've found yourself in a text screen, then great! We're at GParted. First, you're going to ensure you have enough RAM to do what you want to do. GParted will require the use of significant RAM, and ensuring that you have good working RAM will make data loss less likely. Choose the option to perform a "Memtest86". This will take several minutes (around a half hour). After it completes successfully without errors then you may continue.

Now you'll restart by pressing escape. Wait for everything to load after you select the first option this time (default). This seems to take a while. Next GParted's graphical interface will load and you will be able to resize your partition. Select the partition containing Windows, probably the largest, and shrink it to a size you think is appropriate. You'll probably want between 5 and 20GB of new space for OpenSolaris or Ubuntu or whatever you're looking to install. Then right-click on the 'free space', and select "New". Make this take up most of the free space, and use ext3 file system. Afterwards, apply the changes. Be very careful to ensure that you will still have plenty of space in your original partition. After GParted runs and completes without errors, you can continue.

Next is installing your favorite operating system. I would recommend giving OpenSolaris a shot. Download the OpenSolaris CD from their website, and burn a copy of the iso image. Restart the computer you've been working on, and load the new CD. This will eventually come up to the OpenSolaris liveCD desktop. Choose install from here. In the options, you will have to choose your partition for OpenSolaris. Assuming that you used ext3 as I said, you'll want to click the "Linux Filesystem" partition and change that to OpenSolaris (NOT IF YOU HAVE LINUX INSTALLED ALREADY!). Be very careful not to change the NTFS filesystem, or else you could erase Windows. Again, always be sure to have backups of all your data and your operating system.

Go through the rest of the installation as directed onscreen. By the end of it, you'll remove the CD and restart. When you restart you should be presented with the options of "OpenSolaris", "Windows", etc. Congratulations, you now have a dual operating system choices setup on your computer!

Want to run Windows and OpenSolaris at the same time? Look into Xen Hypervisor, or VirtualBox.

External Resources
Partitioning With GParted
Using GParted To Resize Windows Partition


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