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I'm installing RHEL 4.x to a hard disk that already has windows 7 enterprise installed. I would like to dual-boot both the OSes. The hard drive size is about 220 GB (of which windows 7 occupies about 50 GB).

Now, is there any free and friendly tool that I can download to partition this drive ? RHEL comes with a text mode (disk druid) to partition and I could not figure out how to resize the existing windows partition. So, I'm assuming that I need to abort the linux install now and proceed to boot from another CD that contains a good partitioning tool and then later resume boot from RHEL install disk.

Also, what should my partitions look like ? What size should they be ? The system is a new LENOVO with 4 GB RAM on a i5 core processor. Any tips ?

I know that I will need atleast 5 partitions. right ? 1) /boot 2) / 3) /home 4) swap 5) /var

Thank you,

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2 Answers 2

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As Olli pointed out, gparted is a good tool for the job. But you don't need to download ubuntu for that. Gparted developers provide a gparted livecd, which is smaller and will not start installing ubuntu right after you choose you partition schema. http://gparted.sourceforge.net/livecd.php

I strongly advice you to not use a swap partition, unless you really need it. Cases when you really need it are as follows:

  1. You need to be able to hibernate to disk (then the swap partition is used to store the data). On a laptop, I wouldn't do that, as sleep (suspend to RAM) does a great job. It wakes up faster and the energy consumption is really small (like 1% battery per several hours of sleep).
  2. You need to use some software that needs loads of RAM, to perform some task that can't fit in 4G of RAM. In all other cases, swap will only slow down your machine. And 4G of RAM is really enough for most normal stuff. And besides, you can always use a swap file later on (if you need to).

One partitioning schema that has worked for me (I've been using it on my desktop and laptop computers for several years):

  1. / - 20-30G is more than enough in most cases. Having in mind your HDD size, I'd go with 20 (or even less).
  2. /home - 10-20G to store my "small valuable data". Things like source code, documents, maybe some pics etc. Sometimes I encrypt this partition (on laptops)
  3. /storage - the rest of the available hdd space. Here I store all kinds of "big not so important stuff". Having a separate /storage partition has been proved lots of times to be a very good idea. As we all know, people tend to fill up their hdd and then delete the least important stuff, just to download something new. Thus the hdd is always almost full. If you sometimes forget to free up some space for the new download, you end unable to login (your home directory is full, and the computer is unable to write to it. That doesn't tend to happen if you have a separate /storage partition.
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Umm, you can login even if there is no free space on /home or / (been there). Even if /var is full (and therefore logging (to local files) fails), login still works. –  Olli Feb 23 '11 at 12:55
    
You can't login to KDE for example, which is what most people call "login" these days :) –  loxs Feb 23 '11 at 12:56

For example Ubuntu live-cd include gparted, which is graphical easy-to-use disk partitioning program. You can boot live-cd, and use gparted without installing Ubuntu at all.

If there is no special reason, I would use just / and swap partitions, as it is much more convenient, and in desktop environment (I assume this is not server installation) it's not really big problem if for example /var grows more, but it's major annoyance, if you allocate too small partition for something.

It depends on your usage, but I would use 2GB swap and rest for / partition. If you are running something that's memory intensive, but can be swapped out, adding more swap could be useful.

As noted in comments, you can also use swap files instead of partitions (marginally slower, but more flexible). Also, using separate /home partition do have advantages (changing distribution is easier), but also disadvantages (less flexible, if you allocate too much or not enough space, it's inconvenient).

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You can also create a swap file instead of the partition (the speed disadvantage is very low with recent kernels). Or you can use a small swap partition and add a swap file later, if needed. –  maaartinus Feb 23 '11 at 10:57
    
... or you can setup LVM and resize swap with live-cd later on if needed or ... –  Olli Feb 23 '11 at 10:58
2  
make a separate /home partition. Makes live easier. I've root, swap and home –  Phil D. Feb 23 '11 at 12:07

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