chaos angel

Triple Boot Vista, Ubuntu, and Dell Media Direct

19 posts in this topic

Hi yall. This is my first post in the Linux Section. I hope yall are able to help answer my (unfortunately) numerous questions!

First off, I have tried to learn about Linux before by dual booting XP and Ubuntu 6.10 on my desktop computer. That was a great experience for me. However, that was right before I left for college, and so I wasn't able to learn much before I left with my new laptop.

Well, its been over a semester now, and I can't ignore the call of freedom from vista anymore. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about linux to completely get rid of windows just yet. So, I would like to dual boot vista and ubuntu 7.10 on my laptop. I have a Dell Inspiron E1705 with 2GB RAM, 100 GB 7200 RPM HDD, et cetera.

However, in researching dual booting on a dell laptop, I've found that Dell's Media Direct button (which enables quick access to your media files) functions as its own OS on the disk, and that it takes some know how to get windows and linux to play nicely on the laptop and maintain the functionality of this button (which I personally don't use, but might in the future).

The two best solutions I've found to get everything working on my laptop are the following:

http://www.daryl.mu/2007/12/29/howto-tripl...d-media-direct/

http://linuxevangelist.blogspot.com/2007/1...m1330-with.html

However, they do not agree on how to partition the hard drive. One recommends having a shared ext3 partition space for both OSs, while the other doesn't talk about a shared partition at all. In addition, the one that does talk about a shared partition, a comment on the bottom says that a shared NTFS partition would be a better idea.

This wouldn't be a big deal at all, except for that, since I've had the laptop a while now, I have quite a few important programs and files that I need to keep. I need to transfer my files temporarily to an external, and be able to bring them back onto my computer after I'm done setting everything up. So, I don't exactly know what to do in order to preserve my files. This brings me to my questions.

I should also mention that I would like to use an external hard drive to hold files for both OSs to use, so I do not know if a shared partition would be important for me.

1. If I just copy my hard drive onto an external, and then follow the instructions of the one recommending a shared partition, would I be able to pull all of my files back onto the shared partition?

Specifically, since the files and programs were on my windows partition originally, would it be possible to then put them onto the ext3 partition and them work fine?

2. Would a shared NTFS or ext3 partition work better? (I read a shared ext3 partition does not include journaling.)

3. Or, should I just forget about the shared partition and bring all of my displaced files back into a windows partition? I think this would eliminate possible compatibility issues for the files on a shared partition (I'm not sure if compatibility errors exist, though).

4. With an external to share files between the OSs, should I bother with a shared partition? What should I format the external hard drive to for best sharing between the two OSs?

I realize these are a lot of questions, and I am sorry i'm a little long winded. I'm just trying to avoid having to clarify myself. Any, and I mean any, help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

Edited by chaos angel
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Let me recommend VirtualPC or VMWare as an initial entry point, if you're concerned about hosing up your laptop. Your system can probably run a virtual machine okay, and this gives you the chance to test out linux without screwing with your Windows partitions.

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1. The first misconception about filesystems people have is that files stored on one of them become unusable when stored on the other. No, you won't have any problems with copying files to a different filesystem.

2. Ext3 because of the Installable File System. And yes, you won't be able to use journalling. I'm not sure if that's supported by ntfs-3g for NTFS either.

3. If you're not sure that those issues even exist, then why are you considering them? Windows will be able to read and write to and from an ext3 partition as if it was an ext2 partition.

4. USB drives present themselves as mass storage devices, and are addressed as such by most OSes.

Edited by WhatChout
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Alright, thanks for the help so far. I guess my next questions are:

1. Will I be able to run my windows programs fine straight from the ext3 partition if I put them there?

2. I don't exactly know what journaling is. Do I need it?

3. In another forum, I was recently informed that the current version of ubuntu, ver. 7.10, comes with built in NTFS read and write support, so you can still access all of your files on the windows partition. Would it then be more convenient to have a shared partition that is NTFS? Or should I now just shrink my drive, and install linux on the free space, since I should be able to access the files accross the partition?

4. Which virtual environment is considered the best?

5. Why partition if I could run a virtual environment?

Thanks in advance for any help!

Edited by chaos angel
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4. Which virtual environment is considered the best?

5. Why partition if I could run a virtual environment?

I don't know if there's a "best" one. VirtualPC and VMWare are both pretty good, and both should perform decently enough for just trying out a linux workstation setup. May want to go with VMWare, who knows what MS does in VirtualPC to cripple a linux setup? :)

Dual-booting vs. virtualization really comes down to what you're looking to accomplish. If you dual-boot, you get the full power of your computer to run the OS with; likewise, all the hardware presents itself natively (which may be problematic if it is not fully supported). On the other hand, virtualization adds a lot of overhead, so performance in the virtual machine may not be on par with what you'd expect from your system's processor and RAM. However, I've had better luck getting hardware working through virtual machines, I believe the hardware presents itself in more of a standard/generic way.

You could also try a livecd distribution. This lets you run linux on your hardware, but without needing to make any permanent changes to your hard drive. (In this case, though, you're a bit limited by the speed of your optical drive.)

Or, just grab a cheap old desktop off ebay and install linux on it. Good way to learn, and if you break it you haven't lost your files.

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1. Will I be able to run my windows programs fine straight from the ext3 partition if I put them there?

Don't be lazy and read the documentation.

http://ext2fsd.sourceforge.net/

http://www.fs-driver.org/

2. I don't exactly know what journaling is. Do I need it?

And again...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journaling_file_system

3. In another forum, I was recently informed that the current version of ubuntu, ver. 7.10, comes with built in NTFS read and write support, so you can still access all of your files on the windows partition. Would it then be more convenient to have a shared partition that is NTFS? Or should I now just shrink my drive, and install linux on the free space, since I should be able to access the files accross the partition?

How do you plan on using Linux without installing it? You'll HAVE TO have free space on the drive for it somewhere.

4. Which virtual environment is considered the best?

None, since best/worst are subjective opinions depending on each person's standards.

5. Why partition if I could run a virtual environment?

If you want the lesser speed of a virtualized OS, then sure, go for it.

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I have a Dell Vostro 1500, this also has the Media Direct key which seems to cause a lot of problems with dual booting Linux and Windows. My laptop came with vista and this is what I did to get everything working, and without any problems from media direct.

Firstly, I used Vista's built in partition manager to shrink the vista ntfs partition to half its original size. (you can adjust the specific size depending on your needs)

After that I booted up into my Ubuntu install disk. I made 3 partitions for the linux install. (swap, root, and home)

Then, I let the rest of the Ubuntu install finish out, and let the grub boot manager be installed. It recognized the linux, vista (as longhorn), and Media Direct (as XP embedded) installs.

By default in Ubuntu, you can read NTFS partitions, so you can access any files that are saved there. You can also put any files from linux that you want access to in Windows on the windows partition.

My recommendation to you would be to keep the windows partition larger than the linux install. That way the 'Shared Partition' will be large enough for all of your files.

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Hey, I'm trying to shrink my Vista partition, which is 80 GB. I have about 23 GB of unused space, so I want to shrink it to get 20 GB free. When I use Vista's Computer Management to shrink the partition, it tells me I can only shrink 1.6 GB off. In the Windows help window, one of the things that it says is this:

"When you shrink a partition, unmovable files (for example, the page file or the shadow copy storage area) are not automatically relocated and you can not decrease the allocated space beyond the point where the unmovable files are located. If you need to shrink the partition further, see move the page file to another disk, delete the stored shadow copies, shrink the volume, and then move the page file back to the disk"

Is this probably the cause of my problem?

If so, how do I fix it so that I can shrink it?

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http://gparted-livecd.tuxfamily.org/ partitioin editor on a live cd. safest way to resize partitions for ANY operating system is to do it while the hard drive isn't being used.

If you break the media direct, dont worry. you should have received a installation disk for it anyway. I did for mine at least. Its easier to just wipe that thing and re install it later if you decided you need it. GRUB or LiLO wont play very nicely with media direct. I believe they write that functionality into the boot sectors of your windows partition.

So if you are going to do it, backup the files, resize your partitions, and install it.

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Well, I actually do not ever use the button, but I read on a website that Dell Media Direct also controls the volume and song navigation buttons on the front of my laptop.

Is this true? If not, then I would rather just get rid of Dell Media Direct.

Also, my Dell Inspiron E1705's hard drive came partitioned into 4 parts: 80 GB for OS, 10 GB for Recovery, and 2 other partitions that are unnamed. One is 2 GB, and one is 55 MB. One must be Dell Media Direct, but which one is it? Also, what is the other one? Should I get rid of it too, or just let it be?

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The recovery partition is actually for Window XP Media Center on mine, store files. I assume its the same on Vista, I just don't like vista, so i am very unfamiliar with it.

No, you can map buttons with applications like: http://www.kde-apps.org/content/show.php/R...t?content=63140

There are a few others out there, the names escape me though atm. Google "Dell E1705 keyboard Linux" and you will find the alternatives.

BTW, I have that same laptop. I wiped media direct when I got it brand new back when the model was first released. I haven't used that button since lol. If you have trouble getting it working with that, You can always map it out with Xorg in your xorg.conf (GUI Configuration file).

Let me know how it goes.

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Ok thats good to know.

Which one is Dell Media Direct though? Is it the 2 GB partition or the 55 MB one? (The 55 MB partition is the first one on the hard drive.)

Also, will GParted be able to deal with the problem I am having with my Vista Partition, or is it just going to ignore it and chop off the end of the hard drive, possibly deleting important files?

Edited by chaos angel
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Hey, I tried using GParted, and I've ran into a problem. When GParted displayed all of my partitions, there was an exclamation point next to my Windows OS NTFS drive, and it would not let my do anything to the partition. It told me there were parts of the partition with multiple references. Also, when I try to have windows check for errors on the drive, it tells me that it cannot perform a check while the drive is in use, and so it has me schedule a check to be performed on the next start up. However, when I start up the computer, no such check occurs.

What should I do? I need to shrink my NTFS drive to make room for my linux partitions. I have no idea what to do. Any help would be much appreciated.

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I didn't have this issue since I wiped it all upon installing Linux and got rid of windows. I believe the reason is that media direct is still in use. You need to wipe it. You will undoubltedly have to repair windows with a installation disk. Then you can resize stuff.

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I don't think Media Direct has anything to do with it, since the Media Direct partition is separate. I just need a way to figure out how to figure out what is going on with the hard drive. Even if I did not end up using linux, I need to figure out why I cannot resize the partition. Any suggestions?

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Ok, I was finally able to shrink my windows partition to get some space for linux. I did it by following the directions laid out on this page:

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vis.../#comment-23791

Also, I used PerfectDisk 2008 for my defrager.

Now, I have a quick question that is probably dumb.

I was able to get 16 GB out of my windows partition. However, I was shooting for 20 GB for my linux partition, so I also shrunk my Dell Recovery partition 4 GB. Now though, the 4 GB and 16 GB unallocated spaces are separated by my windows partition on the hard drive. How do I combine the spaces? Or, do I need to combine them? I want to make swap, root, and home partitions for linux. How should I do that with my given situation?

Oh yeah, a couple more dumb questions. With 20 GB of space, how much should I give each partition? I know swap should be twice your ram, but I have 2 GB, and am thinking 4 GB is a little much. I don't know how much I need to give root. So, any suggestions?

Edited by chaos angel
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How very very strange, I just installed Ubuntu on my dell laptop and still have windows and dell media direct running and the first forum I come to is this! :D

I didn't know a lot about partitioning etc so after reading everything I just re-booted my pc, with the Ubuntu ISO disc inserted and followed the on screen instructions. I ignored all the partition managers etc because Ubuntu will do all the partitioning for you in the setup wizard (I set mine at about 60/40 windows and Ubuntu respectively).

Now when the laptop is started I am given the option of Ubuntu or Vista to load and both work like clockwork. Ubuntu did all the hard work!!

Sorry no real technical advice but just wanted to say it certainly can work!

Good luck.

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Your root partition should be about 4-8gb for a desktop installation if you only have 20gb total. After that, your swap should be no larger than 1gb if you have 1gb of RAM. If you have less than a gig of ram, make your swap is the same as your total RAM. (could be wrong about that, its what i do). Then use the rest of the disk space shoudl be for your home partition.

Theres no need to get any more complicated than that for a new user or for a desktop installation for basic stuff.

Edited by Alk3
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