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I have a laptop running Win7 on its internal drive, and I have installed Ubuntu (13.10 64bit currently) onto an external USB drive. Other than Ubuntu hardware compatibility (Mouse button presses are not being responded to) issues, everything's working fine. To load Ubuntu, I created 3 partitions, '/boot', 'swap', and '/' (in that order) and used EasyBCD to setup my boot menu.

What I would like to do now is setup a number of Ubuntu versions on another (blank 500GB) external USB drive as I've had hardware related issues both with 13.04(32bit) and 13.10(64bit). So I want to try out 12.04LTS, 13.04, and 13.10 with 32 and 64 bit versions of each, and see which runs best.

The problem for me is that I'm not sure how to partition the drive to achieve this.

I understand that I can have one '/home' and one 'swap' partition that will be shared by all the installs, but what about the other partitions?

I will need to setup an extended partition with logical partitions inside, to accommodate so many installs.

Do I need a '/boot' partition for each install? Do I need a '/boot' partition at all? I know I need a '/' partition per install. What order would work best? (Swap 1st, then all the installs, and home last) or (Swap 1st, then home, then all the installs) or (some other arrangement)

Any advise would be much appreciated.

Cheers, Nap (My computer is an ASUS M70SA with an Intel Core2 Duo processor & 4GB mem.)

I would have liked to have been able to create a new tag for multi OS installs beyond the usual 2, eg 'OSx3+' or something. (Not enough reputation to do so.)

  • There are physical limits on the number of partitions a single drive can have. You will need more then 2 storage devices to do this. I suggest booting to a virtual machine to do your performance tests. – Ramhound Dec 2 '13 at 15:15
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    There are physical limits, but 6 partitions is well within the boundaries of those limits. – Lawrence Dec 2 '13 at 15:43
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That's a lot of installs, but I would do it this way

Swap as the first primary partition
Home as the second primary partition
Then an extended partition to contain the following

/ for 13.10  
/boot for 13.10  

/ for 13.04  
/boot for 13.04  

etc. etc.

I wouldn't share any partitions except swap and /home in case compatibility issues arise. That arrangement also makes it easier later on when you delete the other installs, home and swap are still the first and second partitions.

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