What kind of a hard disk partition is required for dual booting a computer(specifically taking windows and ubuntu). Since, I did not know anything about partitioning, I decided to dedicate my E drive(195 GB) for ubuntu installation. However, as the install process proceeds, the point where I'm supposed to allocated the space for /swap and / is greyed out(the little '+' sign that allows us to add the partitions, is greyed out.)

Since, the default type of partition is Primary, I am wondering if this is the cause. Should the drive be converted to logical before the installation? Would it cause any problem afterwards or would the drive be converted back to primary after the installation?
I am already on a windows 8.1 machine and trying to install ubuntu.

Result of sudo fdisk -l enter image description here

  • I assume you have installed windows already. Have you made an unallocated partition on which you try to install the ubuntu os? – RamonRobben Feb 28 '17 at 9:38
  • @RamonRobben, I've tried for a whole day, but, doing it with unallocated partition, reported that the space is unusable, and I've also tried to convert the partition into a simple volume(which made all of the drives to dynamic) and I had to restart all over. – bzal Feb 28 '17 at 10:10
  • how many primary partitions do you have set? Windows limits you to have max 4 primary partitions. Some manufactures already have those claimed. You might want to delete the primary recovery partition and just make some recovery disks. – RamonRobben Feb 28 '17 at 10:26
  • @RamonRobben, I have 4, but, I cleared one (formatted it empty) for ubuntu, which I was thinking could be installed in........... and I didn't understand the last sentence – bzal Feb 28 '17 at 10:33
  • well some people prefer to have their recovery partition on a disk so they can always recovery their pc. – RamonRobben Feb 28 '17 at 10:39

Disclaimer: Backup your data before messing around with partitions. You can lose all of your data if you don't!!!

From the output of fdisk -l in your question it would seem that you have 4 primary partitions. And I think you are trying to install ubuntu in primary partitions /dev/sda3 OR /dev/sda4 (I am going to assume you intend to install ubuntu in /dev/sda4 for the following discussion). At this point I would recommend either of the following:

  1. You could potentially run ubuntu without a /swap partition. Assign /dev/sda4 to root i.e. / .

  2. Delete the /dev/sda4 partition and create two logical partitions. For example in the 195GB of available space you can make 2 logical partitions of 190GB for / and 5GB for /swap. I would recommend using "ext4 journaling file system" for the / partition and for the /swap partition select "swap area".

enter image description here


  • That little + is greyed out because you are limited to 4 primary partitions with a MSDOS partition table.

  • You can however replace one of the primary partitions with an extended partition which can contain a number of logical partitions. I believe ubuntu's partitioning user interface during installation has no mention of a extended partition as it does this transparently when you create a logical partition.

  • Ubuntu can be installed to a logical partition i.e. both / and /swap can be logical partitions.

  • To get a better understanding of what primary, extended and logical partitions are see this Wikipedia Article.

  • do you mean to create logical partitions from the ubuntu installation menu?(I don't know about this) or from the windows disk manager? – bzal Mar 2 '17 at 13:32
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    @bzal yes that is correct: create "logical" partitions from the Ubuntu installation menu itself for both / and /swap partitions (or mount points). This video should give you a better idea of the process: youtu.be/OU_dkeFprhY – moo Mar 3 '17 at 16:52
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    @bzal Again if you aren't sure about what you are doing and can't risk losing your Windows installation/data it would be advisable to try get someone to help you in person. Be careful which partition you are deleting so that you have enough space for your new logical partitions. – moo Mar 3 '17 at 17:05

Be careful while choosing the partitions, you can erase everything with a little misplaced letter only.

I'll be answering your questions in serial order so you don't have any further questions. You can only have 4 primary partitions with MSDOS partition table on your drive. It doesn't matter if you install your linux in primary or logical drive(now-a-days). After seeing your partitions I would recommend you make your last(fourth) partition extended so that you can make a swap partition for ubuntu. For installing ubuntu you can just do the following -

  1. make a ext4 partition and give it a mount point /(root).

  2. make a linux-swap partition(optional). it acts as a virtual memory for your OS.

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