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I have the following partitions:

  • sda1 ntfs recovery 7GB (boot, diag)
  • sda2 ntfs windows 40 GB
  • sda3 ext3 linux 12 GB
  • sda4 extended 55 GB
    • sda6 ext3 work 53 GB
    • sda5 swap 2GB

I tried to shrink the windows partition to something like 24 GB so as to create two more partitions of 8 GB each, where I would like to install many Linux Distributions. But gparted didn't allow me to do so because there are already 4 primary partitions. What should I do? (Also, I don't understand which are the primary partitions in the above list? I guess sda1, sda2, sda3 are primary.) I can maybe shrink windows to 24 GB, and use the 16 GB space for work but I don't know where the new distributions will go to.

How can I do add more?

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1 Answer

Based on your partition map, sda4 is your extended partition and sda6 and sda5 seem to be logical partitions within it.

Now, since you already have 4 primary partitions (including sda4, which is considered so too), you cannot define a new primary partition. Shrinking sda1 to split it is going to fail for this reason.

You have a couple of simple options to pick from.
(all of them are based on getting more space in your extended partition).

  1. Shrink your data partition sda6 to create more logical partitions. You can install unix based systems on these logical partitions, things like GRUB can handle this.
  2. Kill or move-out your unix partitions (sda3 and sda6) and then restructure your disk.
    • This implies you either backup your unix data to be restored in a fresh install or backup entire partition image to be restores (provided you have some experience doing that).
    • If you do this, you will have an intermediate state where sda1 and sda2 would be the only useful partitions on your system.
    • At such time, you can also go ahead to shrink your sda2 and release more free space into unallocated area (you would have already deleted the other partitions).
    • Now, you can create a single extended partition of all available free space and start with new partitions within it where you will reinstall or recover your primary unix partition (which is sda3 now) and then add in other unix systems as you choose.

Remember, you can share a single swap partition across all your unix systems. This is because you won't be running more than one at a time and that running system can use the common swap partition. The swap partition has no persistent data across reboots.

When you boot into Unix, try the command "sudo fdisk -l /dev/sda".
It will dump your partition table with the sda4 described as Extended and its Start and End range will encompass that of the remaining (sda6 and sda5) logical partitions. This Extended partition is also counted as a primary partition.

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Thanks. Could you please give me pointers to the first part of your second point - backing up the unix partition and restoring it later. –  anonymous Sep 11 '11 at 1:45
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