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I'm soon about to purchase a new desktop (for gaming, programming etc), and I'm trying to figure out a good setup for a dual boot with Linux and Windows 7.

I'm thinking of getting a SSD for storing the operating systems and applications, and having a large 1 or 2 TB harddrive for storage (for both operating systems) and games (for Windows 7, I have many games).

Right now I'm thinking of a setup like this:

SSD:

  • /dev/sda1 - Linux root partition
  • /dev/sda2 - Linux swap
  • /dev/sda3 - Windows 7 partition

Harddrive:

  • /dev/sdb1 - Linux /home
  • /dev/sdb2 - Windows 7 storage and games

I've never had a SSD before, so I have no idea if this a good setup or not. My question is basically is this a good setup, or should I do something else? If I get say, a 60GB SSD, to do you have any good recommendations on partition sizes on the SSD?

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Thankyou for this exact question. It is exactly what I am looking into right now. Can I ask how the process went and what steps you followed to make your setup work? –  Robert Massaioli Jul 5 '11 at 0:21
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3 Answers 3

One point to add: most modern linux distributions also use a /boot partition to install grub(1|2) on, preferably of size 500MB to 1GB. This area is also used to later upgrade your Linux system between distribution releases (like fedora 16 to fedora 17). It might be a good idea to reserve /dev/sda1 on SSD for this. This also has the advantage that it can be used to boot from a partition not on your primary disk, like, say, you run out of space on your linux root on /dev/sda2 and want to move it completely to your large storage disk. Then you can simply transfer over your partition and change grub.cfg to boot /dev/sdbX instead of /dev/sda2.

It is also worth noting that windows 7 uses a similar mechanic and therefore reserves another partition on primary disk, unless you leave it no space to do that.

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I would recommend not splitting up Windows this way. For one thing, you have to remember specifically to install new programs to the larger drive, and some may even take issue with being located somewhere other than C:. My friend had this same great idea, but he ended up filling up his C: drive and having to compress it. I don't remember the exact reason, but I know that when he decided to upgrade his operating system, he felt it best to reinstall to the larger, slower drive. His SSD was 30Gb large.

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That is a very weak argument. Separating Windows system and data partitions is a very common procedure. –  André Neves Aug 5 '12 at 19:29
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MS Windows requires 16 GB of disk, minimum, and Ubuntu (my favored distribution of Linux) requires 8 GB, so make sure your partitions are at least that big. Expect Windows to bloat over time as security updates come out. If you plan on spending most of your time in Linux and installing most software there, maybe make MS Windows get only around 20 to 25 to allow for plenty of security updates and give Linux the rest. You can also put /usr on the HD; that is where many applications are stored so it would save space on your SSD. The system would still boot quickly, though.

Swap will be faster on the SSD than the HD, of course, but it will still be slower than the RAM, I am told, so I would use between 4 and 10 times as much SDD as you have RAM for swap.

Yours seems like a good configuration, all in all.

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I've read somewhere that I also need to align the partitions properly. Is this something that could be an issue that I need to think about? –  tobier May 21 '11 at 13:06
    
Within one hard disk / ssd I don't believe so but if it's a SSD specific issue I might not know of it. Between the disks, no, it shouldn't. –  Andrew May 22 '11 at 21:02
    
You have mentioned putting /usr on its own partition too. Is there a way to make both /home and /usr use the same partition like a single slab? If not how much space should I give to /usr? 10-15GB I was thinking though even that might be to large. –  Robert Massaioli Jul 5 '11 at 0:42
    
Ideal swap size depends on amount of RAM, but normally 4x-10x is absurd. –  André Neves Aug 5 '12 at 19:28
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