I have a kinda complicated situation. I have two hard disks:

  • A 80 GB HD, with a single partition taken by Windows 7
  • A 300 GB HD, with 20 GB of empty space, a NTFS partition of about 200 GB meant to be used as home folder, and about 70 GB of more empty space. The deal with the empty space is that I had other OSes installed before and when I removed them I got this. I know it's messy, but it's what I have.

I want to install Ubuntu on the second hard disk. I was thinking about using the first empty 20 GB for the OS and the other, larger empty space for /usr. Does this make sense?

The other thing is that I want to dual boot with Windows 7. Will the Ubuntu installer deal with it? I have done this before, but never on more than one disk.


Ubuntu installer should automatically setup Grub to dual-boot windows 7. If for some reason it does not, it's pretty easy to edit the grub menu.lst file to add an entry for windows.

Don't forget you need a swap partition too. As justin says, 20GB is too much for ubuntu system files. 8GB is plenty even with extra packages. NTFS should be fine to share files between Windows/Linux though.

  • And what do I do with the extra space? I'll be left with scattered partitions. – Javier Jan 2 '10 at 0:29
  • Use it for your swap file, enlarge the 200GB home folder, or use it for a backup partition. I'll add another answer with what I would do. – RJFalconer Jan 2 '10 at 1:01
  • Thank you. I guess I'll have to do really careful backups if I want to change partitions so much. – Javier Jan 2 '10 at 1:42

If you are dual booting, you would gain a performance benefit having all OS on the same drive. This way they share a common "large data drive", and the bandwidth to the OS drive is not shared with any bandwidth to the apps/downloads/music/films/videos/photos drive. (Plus when you are booted to ubuntu, the windows drive would be sitting there consuming power but not doing anything)

Drive 1 80GB

  • 50GB NTFS Windows 7 (I assume you have most of the 80 already used here)
  • 8GB ext3 Ubuntu
  • ~18GB ext3 home folder
  • ~4GB ubuntu swap*

Drive 2 300Gb

  • 300GB NTFS Media

*Swap size depends on how much ram you have, and whether or not you're going to be doing much video/large image editing or other tasks with a high-memory requirement. 2GB should be more than enough for most uses I think.

Having all OS on one drive will also make your boot process simpler, and easier to add more drives.


20G is more than enough for ubuntu. Since you want to dual boot maybe something like

8G / 12G /home

and format the 70G partition as fat32 for sharing files between windows and linux?

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