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I'm a non-technical computer user who uses applications in Windows 7 to get my work done; I don't dabble with the operating system. With support ending for Windows 7, I'm looking at transitioning to Linux Mint. I've never used Linux and currently know little about it. I plan to install it on a new SSD, which will be an additional drive; Windows is on the current HDD.

The installation includes an option -- I can let the Mint installation wizard handle the partitioning and configuration, using whatever it deems appropriate, or I can manually specify that myself.

  • I am not familiar with how robust Mint's wizard is in terms of picking good choices for me, or the extent of included safeguards to ensure that it doesn't affect the Windows installation in any way.
  • If I do it myself, I will be in new territory. Even if I have recommendations for what partitions to make, I may not know how to respond to unfamiliar choices for the process details. There would be the potential to make mistakes that could result in a problematic installation or damage Windows. I could even be left with a non-working computer, and no good options for getting operational quickly.

I am trying to understand the risks to know how to proceed. My concerns are theoretical, lacking the knowledge and experience to weigh them realistically. I'm looking for knowledgeable people with actual experience to provide perspective.

  • Are some of my concerns unfounded or unrealistic, and just reflect my unfamiliarity with the process?
  • Are my concerns disproportionate, and realistically, one of these choices clearly makes more sense than the other for my situation?
  • Are there certain situations in which automated installation is the logical way to go, and other situations where manual specification makes sense?
  • Am I focusing on things that aren't realistic issues, and there are bigger considerations that are the important ones?

These are not intended as different questions, just different ways of trying to frame what I need to answer. I'm not asking for opinions on what I should or shouldn't do. Rather, I'm looking for facts, considerations, and real-world perspective on which to make a decision.

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  • @ DavidPostil + Many thanks for your valuable advice. I will try to reedit my question to be accepted according to the rules. + generally, when I write a query, I try to make it useful for the others who face same problem, because I care about them. But in this query I had to make it very different from the already present questions, in which I did not find the answer I need, in order to avoid the duplication. + I need your opinion, because you are here the best qualified, more than depending on books. It is like in medicine science, books are the same, but "experience+mind" are more critical Jul 1 '19 at 22:08
  • @fixer1234- All appreciation for your corrections, your time and effort. ++ You collected all what in my mind! ++ Many thanks. Jul 2 '19 at 1:07
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When I first got into Linux, I had an old Windows XP computer that I kept because it was the only thing that would run an old laser printer that was compatible only with XP. It also had a bunch of ancient applications I relied on that would have required work to get running in a later version of Windows. I decided that would be a good computer to add Linux with dual boot. I installed Mint, trusting it to use its installation wizard to partition things optimally. Mint worked great, but it wiped Windows XP.

Since then, I've occasional had a situation where I wouldn't lose important existing stuff and checked to see what Mint's wizard would do if I used it. Those choices were never good for my needs. If someone was a complete computer newbie, stuck alone on a desert island with a laptop and an installation disk, the wizard would get them up and running. I wouldn't recommend it for any other situations. :-)

You posted an earlier question about partitioning for Mint. I explained some of the complexity in an answer. The Mint installation wizard doesn't know anything about how you use the computer, or what would make sense for you. It has no basis on which to make good choices. It will follow some rudimentary rules that will leave a working installation, but it won't be optimized in any way. Even as a non-technical user and brand new to Linux, you are in a far better position to figure out partitioning that would make sense for you.

Between this and your earlier question, and perhaps a little interaction, you will have the basis for some common sense partitioning that should be good enough to get you started and meet your needs for awhile. If you eventually find that the partitioning would benefit from some adjustment, worst case, it wouldn't be a huge task to backup everything and redo it.

If you know what to specify and where, the risks in doing it yourself are mainly from not being careful and paying attention to what you're doing. The mechanics of specifying things yourself aren't overly complicated. You can even do a dry run to see what the dialog boxes ask for, and then don't confirm actually doing it. So that you feel better prepared, these are the basic steps you would follow:

  • Before you start, make an image of your Windows drive, or at least a current backup if you already have recovery disks. Or, disconnect the Windows drive during the Mint installation, then update GRUB later to add Windows to its boot menu. This isn't strictly necessary, and many people don't bother with it. I was one of those people.
  • When you get to that point in the Mint installation, choose the option to specify things yourself. That will lead to a partitioning tool.
  • Pick the drive you want to install on, which will be the SSD. The drives will be identified by manufacturer name and size.
  • The drive will probably come with one big partition, which you will select and delete so you can chop up the available space.
  • For each partition you want to create, you click an Add button, which will open a dialog window.
  • You specify how big you want the partition (usually in units of thousands). Note that the actual partition won't appear as exactly the size you specify, just don't be surprised by the discrepancy.
  • There will probably be a place to specify how much space to leave before the partition. Make that zero. It will automatically fill in how much space will be left after the partition, which is what is available for other partitions.
  • Select that you want the partition formatted. For root and home partitions, select ext4. For a swap partition, select swap. If you create other partitions, select the desired format.
  • Specify the mount point. For the root partition, select /. For the home partition, select /home. For swap, select swap. If you have other partitions for other purposes, you don't need to define a mount point here.
  • For the root partition, select the boot flag.
  • Close that dialog and repeat for the next partition.
  • You may notice that the SSD and partitions have labels. The drive will likely be designated sdb, and each partition will get a sequential number; sdb1 for the first, sdb2 for the second, etc. sd identifies a type of device, the letter identifies the device number, and the number identifies the partition number on that drive. sda1 is equivalent to C: in Windows. If there is only one partition on your Windows drive, sdb1 would be equivalent to D: in Windows.
  • You can leave unallocated space on the drive. If you want to add another partition later, open a partitioning tool and add a partition in that space.
  • At the bottom of the partitioning window is where you designate where to locate GRUB. Be sure to select the SSD, and put it on the drive rather than in a partition. This dialog will have the drive description (manufacturer and size), so that will select the right device. It may also give you an option to select the drive (like sdb), or a partition (like sdb1). Select the drive.
  • you will be given lots of warnings to verify your selections because the changes will destroy anything existing on the drive. You are starting with a fresh drive, so you have no existing stuff to lose on the SSD, but double check that you didn't accidentally let it do things on your Windows drive.

Assuming that you will create just root, home, and swap partitions at installation time, that's the mechanics of doing it yourself. You just need to decide on partition sizes. Per my earlier answer, I would suggest 6 GB for swap based on your 3 GB RAM. There is general guidance in the other answer for the root partition size. For the home partition, look at the space used in the user directories in Windows for a rough idea of what you currently use.

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  • @fixer1234-- I can't express my thanks. ++ I am continuing reading the previous explanations. ++++ Depending on it I downloaded Xfc, bought that "120" GB SSD, bought a casing for it and a usb adaptor for it, beside the Caddy, for the emergency cases. +++ Many small and critical shifts into the right direction!. +++ About these new explanations, I will read it carefully. +++ Thank you very much Jul 1 '19 at 23:37
  • @MakramZakiShenouda, I've been there, so happy to help. On questions where an answer completely answers the question for you, consider accepting it (click the checkmark). It does a few things. It closes the loop on the question so people see that it's been solved (but they can still add answers), and can help to clarify the correct interpretation of the question. It also awards a little rep to both people for the effort and encourages other people to respond to your questions, so you get more answers.
    – fixer1234
    Jul 2 '19 at 0:04

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