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I have a brand new Acer aspire 5811 with core i5 processor and all that.

There is windows 7 Home Premium pre-installed on it. I want to install arch and setup a dual boot system.

EDIT: Looks like I have also another issue. I have a dynamic disk. I really don't know what it could be, but it apparently means that I cannot use Gparted (or any linux based tool) to delete the recovery partition. Windows 7 disk management tool doesn't allow me to delete it.

The problem is:

Windows shows 4 partitions

  1. 14 GB UNKNOWN recovery partition
  2. 100MB NTFS System Reserved partition for Windows 7
  3. 448GB NTFS Windows 7 system partition
  4. 468GB NTFS Data partition for windows 7

But GpartedLive cd and also arch setup show 5 partitions

  1. 938Kb UNKOWN system reserved partition
  2. 14 GB UNKNOWN recovery partition
  3. 100MB NTFS System Reserved partition for Windows 7
  4. 448GB NTFS Windows 7 system partition
  5. 468GB unusable space

Because of this, I cannot create another primary partition.

Can any body guide me about how should I go for creating partition for installing arch ?

Note: I need to keep windows 7 working.

regards.

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Have you tried creating partitions in Windows, using a tool such as Partition Magic from Symantec? You may be able to create the appropriate partitions in Windows first, and then install Linux after... I think the live CD showed a temp partition for booting from disk. You didn't create any partitions using the live CD did you? –  nicorellius Apr 2 '10 at 16:54
    
No. I didn't create any partition using the live cd. With the windows administration tool, I can create another NTFS partition by resizing the data partition. I didn't try with the windows tools you mentioned though. I am not sure, even if I create the partitions using the tools, linux will show anything after the 4th one. –  rangalo Apr 2 '10 at 17:36
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7 Answers 7

You can't shrink or create new ones because you already have four primary partitions.

You can't create more than 4 primary partitions and you already have all them: Recovery and System reserved are allways primary; Windows 7 by default create a primary one.

Recommendation: Delete the "Data" partition and shrink the windows 7 to 100gb or so, then create a new extended partition. Then all new partitions will be logical partitions inside the extended one. Place your data partition there and all your linux partitions inside that extended partition.

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I have tried this. Look at how linux sees it. Linux sees 4 primary partitions without the data partition. Linux sees one more primary partition of 938kb this is not visible in windows. –  rangalo Apr 2 '10 at 18:09
    
As far as I know it's not possible to have a partition of 938kb. That's "wasted space" between partitions. Based on your HD geometry, your cluster size, cylinders boundaries and other factors, a minimum is determined which I guess is 7mb. When partitioning under Linux sometimes gparted insert some wasted space of around 1mb between partitions. That's the 938kb you see there. Now I remember that some Acer machines come with "Windows" and "Data" partitions. This sounds strange. –  Melvyn Apr 2 '10 at 18:26
    
I agree but is there any way to get rid of this "wasted space" so it does not become obstacle in creating a partition ? It would be also nice to know what happens if I remove the 14MB acer recovery partition . What do I lose ? –  rangalo Apr 2 '10 at 18:33
    
Are you sure recovery partition is 14mb not 14gb? If it's 14MB then it's wasted space too. If it's 14GB and you remove the recovery partition you'll lose the ability/capacity to reset your Acer to its factory state. That partition contains the OS, drivers and applications that came preinstalled in your Acer. Usually there's some misunderstood between Windows and Linux when watching partitions. In fact that 938kb is wasted space and Windows ignores it. If you have install DVD from Acer maybe the best road is to full format, delete all partitions from windows install dvd and start again. –  Melvyn Apr 3 '10 at 2:23
    
Hi the partition is 14 GB and it is empty ! At least according to the windows 7 disk management tool. I don't have the install dvd from acer. –  rangalo Apr 3 '10 at 20:40
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Have you considered shrinking one of the existing volumes? howtogeek

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yes. I could shrink the "468GB NTFS Data" partition, but it is not visible in linux look at the list of partitions visible in both the systems. Windows sees 4 primary and linux 5 –  rangalo Apr 2 '10 at 17:54
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The Windows 7 partition doesn't need to be 448GB. You can safely resize it to something much smaller (I run Vista on a 250GB drive and the majority of the space is used by games and video). You can also resize the data partition. I haven't used the Win7 partition editor, but you should be able to resize/move them and leave the rest of the drive as unformatted space. Then you can use Gparted to format/partition the space any way you want. If the Win7 partition editor forces you to format the free space as a new partition, just use Gparted to change it afterward.

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I could resize the data partition see the comment above. The problem is it is not visible in linux. I will have to delete one of the partitions to be able to see extra space in linux –  rangalo Apr 2 '10 at 17:55
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Have you examined the unknown reserved partition that Windows doesn't see? Are you strongly attached to keeping the recovery partition? –  Velociraptors Apr 2 '10 at 18:11
    
no. My best bet will be to remove the acer recovery partition (14MB) . I am not sure though what I am going to lose, can you elaborate ? –  rangalo Apr 2 '10 at 18:21
    
pctechbytes.com/2009/08/11/… The information there suggests that you would lose OS and driver installers, but 14MB isn't nearly enough space for all of that. Do you have a separate recovery disk? –  Velociraptors Apr 2 '10 at 18:49
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I suggest downloading Virtual Box and installing Linux in a VM.

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You may have problems as I'm not sure about their desktops, but Acer likes to partition laptop hard drive's down the middle. If you can you should try and delete the Windows 7 data partition (as in the one that doesn't have Windows OS on it) and then if you need to expand the Windows 7 partition that does have the OS on it and create a new partition for Linux. Though if you just want to try it, I agree with Scott, and try using Virtualbox (open source) or VMware (not free), these would mean you could try out a few different linux distros easily and you won't have to keep installing and uninstalling to partitions, and having possible problems with your boot loader etc

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i don't want to "try" archlinux, but use it as almost the main operating system. Due to the fact that I also have to develop for windows, I don't want to disturb windows partition –  rangalo Apr 3 '10 at 20:21
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IMPORTANT: Read this whole walkthrough before starting; it's pretty involved.

If you had a non-dynamic disk, you would be able to copy one partition (preferably Data) to an image, make a new logical partition, and then put it into the logical (from image).

The problem with "dynamic disk" is that it pretty much is not supported by anything. I have an Acer Aspire as well and the original partitions (Recovery, System Reserved, Windows, Data). Something Microsoft won't tell you is that you cannot change back from dynamic disc - ever.

Here's what I would do for this thorny problem: (note that this would require another hard drive or some tricky maneuvering for the backup; if you don't have another hard drive I can revise this)

  • Start up your computer with a linux LiveCD or LiveUSB
  • Install GParted if it's not included on the disc (program will be stored in RAM)
  • Shrink all partitions you want to keep to the minimum size (no free space left) and then copy them to a backup external hard drive or old drive in a caddy
  • Delete everything on your hard drive except the "PQSERVICE" or recovery partition
  • Make a new NTFS partition for your Windows install

Acer Recovery is a strange beast - if restoring to a blank hard drive, it will make a System Reserved partition without being given permission. But, when given a single partition to install to, it will not create a "System Reserved" partition. (Note that "System Reserved" is necessary if you plan to use BitLocker encryption on Windows. TrueCrypt and other, superior, software does not require this.) By doing this, you will end up with only 2 primary partitions on your hard drive - breathing space for us to make a logical partition for Linux and maybe other OSes in the future.

Note: You can also make a "Data" partition here, but you'll have to configure it yourself, and I have no idea how to do that.

  • Before exiting your live media, run grub-install on your hard drive with the appropriate parameters so that os-prober will give you a boot menu entry to chainload your recovery partition.
  • Boot up your computer from the hard drive and start "Windows Recovery Environment"
  • Tell it to restore not the whole computer but only windows. It should automatically find your blank partition and restore to it.
  • Proceed with user account creation, etc. As soon as you get to a functioning desktop (install is completely done), shut down windows and boot your live media.
  • Mount your backed-up Windows partition and copy the directories you want (usually just program files) back to their proper locations.
  • Reboot Windows and check that everything is still working properly (you can uninstall bloatware at this stage too).
  • Boot up your live media here and make a logical partition taking up all of the unallocated space you left when you made your Windows partition.
  • Copy your Data partition to inside of the logical partition.

Now, you can get on with installing your Linux system. OS-prober will of course automatically detect your Windows install and from here it should be smooth sailing.

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Your only choice is to remove the two Windows partitions and keep the data and recovery partitions. If you do it any other way, you will either lose your data or not be able to reinstall Windows before you sell your computer.

If you want to keep Windows, you are going to have to install Linux in a virtual machine. (I recommend VirtualBox.)

I had a similar problem, so I removed my Windows partitions, backed up my data (I hadn't any data partitions) and installed Linux Mint.

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I needn't also tell you that shrinking your partitions can damaged. I've experienced this before, but you don't have to take my word for it. –  Jonathan Reno Oct 27 '12 at 23:36
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