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Linux partition scheme for dual booting two Linux OSes

I have 4 raided hdd's with win7 x64 and 4gb of ram

I wish to put on the 5th hdd which is not a part of the raid configuration ubuntu and opensuse plus leave spare for data.
The 5th hdd is 600GB (with already 360GB full)

I want to have a partition scheme so that I can boot the systems just fine.

I was thinking of a logical partition with 5 partitions 1 swap 2 /home and 2 / totaling about 60GB
The rest (primary partition) will be for the data that I already have.

So is there something I need to know before diving in ?
Can I have just one /home partition for both systems ?
What file-system is best suited for these (ext3,ext4, btrfs) ?
Is a swap size of 4GB appropriate ?
64 bit or 32 bit ? <- Form what I understand there is a problem with flash on 64bit systems. Any other reasons not to use 64bit ?
I also have an ati hd4870 and I don't know if there are any problems with this card or not (driver like) but that I will find out when I set up a proper partition and OS.

Prior to posting I was also thinking of CentOS and Ubuntu but that might not be such a good idea after I searched around abit.

I will be using them just to learn more stuff (for comptia linux+) and not on a day by day basis for now.

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2 Solutions
You can mix and match most Linux distros and they all can share the /home and swap partitions.  Make separate system partitions, but share the /home and swap partitions.  

I'd probably stick with EXT3 for now on the partitions.  I've had reliability problems sharing ext4 across nfs on a couple of systems.  ext3 is the most known if you have problems.

Swap size is what you think you need.  It used to be that one wanted it 1.5x the RAM, but it really is just there for when you run out of RAM on the programs you are needing to run.  4 or even 2 would probably be more than sufficient for now.

32 or 64?  I don't have much experience with 64 yet, but if it's mostly just to play and learn, choose whichever you want to see if it works well for you.  32bit systems, IIRC, won't address more than about 3.5 or 3.7GB of RAM, but it's not much different than what you have.

Oh, and have fun learning the differences between the distros (though they're more similar than different).
1. Can you select which HD from which to boot in bios? If not, you'll have to overwrite the MBR on your Windows 7 RAID drives. This could be problematic.
2. Yes, one /home partition is sufficient for multiple distributions. Ubuntu and Suse use different desktop environments. They shouldn't clash very often.
3. ext4 is stable for desktop use with better error correction than ext3. Use ext4.
4. swap is usually twice size of RAM up to a point. 4GB is more than sufficient.
5. You cannot use all your ram with only 32-bit OS. I have found few problems with 64-bit. The flash problem is being addressed. Adobe square player is in beta. Unless there's a particular program you want to make sure runs under 64-bit OS, I wouldn't worry about it.
6. It looks like the hd4870 is supported under the current catalyst release.
_3mp3ror_Author Commented:
Ok  so mixing home and swap is checked
Swap size will be at 4gb
I can select the boot devices (that's why I use a separate hdd, I did not want to use the raid for playing with boot loaders).
I know that in ubuntu for instance using ext4 has a shorter boot-up and shutdown time.
The better error correction part I did not knew. Great to know in case of power outages or unexpected shutdowns.
However the two of you say different things mobilescholar says go for ext4 while mccracky says go for ext3
I am confused a bit. Is this a choice between stability vs performance where ext3 proves stability and ext4 shows performance ?
at 2nd point They shouldn't clash very often. > Well they should be two separate systems, Why would two separate systems clash even if they are using the same environment ?
Are there any special parameters that need to go into grub config files or will the systems add them automatically ?
Also using a logical partition has no effect on functionality of the systems ? -> I am asking because I used until now primary ones.
I am still thinking about the pro's and cons of 64bit.
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ext3/4 is mostly what you said.  A difference between stability and performance/being-on-the-leading-edge.  If it's mostly a system to play and learn on, choose whichever you want.  For a production server, I'd personally still go with ext3.

Being two different system partitions, you shouldn't have any problems at all.  

Most modern grub installers will find your systems automatically.  Another thing with the file system choice, some versions of Grub that come with the different systems DON'T have support for ext4 partitions, so may not be able to boot ext4 partitions, so, if you decide to go with ext4 on any of your system partitions, make sure to use a version of grub that supports this (OpenSUSE is one that I know supports ext4.  Debian is one that I know does NOT.)

Logical/primary partitions shouldn't affect anything in a Linux system.
_3mp3ror_Author Commented:
I see ok, then ext3 for now.
Now about installing opensuse and ubuntu I need these to install via a usb flash. That's because a) i rarely use dvd's and b) no more room for another component
So open suse 11.3 and ubuntu 10.10 later on when it will be out of beta.
I searched a bit about making my drive bootable with a net install iso of opensuse 11.3 but I could not get it to boot after reading this
I got the SUSE Studio ImageWriter for Microsoft Windows loaded the iso (although on open it only says to open raw files) but it didn't boot.
Any ideas on how to make it work ?

If Google thinks ext4 is good enough to move its infrastructure there from ext2, then it's good enough for the desktop: True, for a production server I would recommend staying at the tried and true ext3, but this is certainly a home, desktop machine.

Any desktop environment (and most programs) will write configuration files to the user's home directory. Even if the dual-boot system has separate system partitions, there is a slim chance, depending on the packages installed, each side could use some of the same configuration files. For most programs, this is not an issue, but it may make a few things screwy in the desktop environment. Hence the caveat.

Recent releases of both Ubuntu and OpenSuse use ext4 by default. Ubuntu and OpenSuse have been run side-by-side. You might need these instructions to get grub/grub2 to recognize both distributions:
On the installers for flash, get unetbootin.  It should download and install the boot install image on the flash for you.
_3mp3ror_Author Commented:
thanks mobilescholar for the info. if ext4 is used by default now i will let it be.
unetbootbin does not have an option to work with 11.3 only 11.1
unetbootin does have the option to install an image you already have downloaded.  Rather than having unetbootin download and install the iso image, you can download 11.3 and just point unetbootin at the image you downloaded.
_3mp3ror_Author Commented:
I did that and booted and I got a screen with several options. I chose linux, and I got a text based installer, at first complaining about not having a cd.
Everything is ok but at the start installation phase i have 3 choices , dvd/cd, hdd, and network.
None of them work.
Sorry, I can't help you here.  I'm not at all familiar with the OpenSUSE installer.
_3mp3ror_Author Commented:
Thanks guys for the help. Unfortunately I did not manage to get both systems to run properly.
I did however to run ubuntu 10,04 from the usb stick using  Universal USB Installer.,  as for the OpenSUSE I did install it but only using the network option (HTTP).When I got the full dvd I could not get it to run because it did not see my flash drive as an install disk.
In any case grub showed me that I had two operating Systems (plus windows).
I will wait to see if the problem still persists in Ubuntu 10.10. The beta version that is available now does not boot using Universal USB Installer.
What bothers me the most is that there is not a single program that does something well, regarding the flash option.
For windows xp and onwards there is simple command line program that I use to make a usb drive bootable after I copy the contents from the iso to the drive.
As far as this question goes I have received my answers regarding file system type, partition setup and weather or not grub will see both OS-es.
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