I want to install PClinuxOS to a new laptop, HP 2000-299WM that came with Win 7. I need to dual boot this machine but HP has used up all four primary partitions. As a temporary measure, I installed PClinux onto a USB backup drive and can boot easily. But this isn't desirable, and the backup drive may not stand up to this kind of useage. Rather than return the machine, I'd like to find a work around, if possible.
As for the internal drive partitions, two had letters: C (284GB NTFS) contains Win 7; D (19GB NTFS) contains Recovery. The two unlettered partitions are labeled: System (199MB NTFS); HP_Tools (103MB FAT32). The System partition is the active partition. Below is a snapshot:
[root@localhost ~]# fdisk -l
Disk /dev/sda: 320.1 GB, 320072933376 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 38913 cylinders, total 625142448 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x7b0cbeb5
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 * 2048 409599 203776 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda2 409600 596443135 298016768 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda3 596445184 624928767 14241792 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda4 624928768 625140399 105816 c W95 FAT32 (LBA)
Although I've dual-booted PClinux several times before with XP and Win 7, this is a first. I've always created /root, home and swap partitions but never paid attention to them being primary or extended, and how would I know? I suppose /root must be primary for booting purposes while home and swap may be extended?
Your guidance would be appreciated, even if it is to return this machine for a refund.
Understand that I don't run Windows, so what I say here comes from past experience from back in the Win2K days.
Windows, since Win2k, has been able to be installed on a logical partition, as long as the ntldr and boot.ini were on an active primary partition. Back then I dual booted Win98 on an active primary, and Win2K on a logical partition, with its ntldr and boot.ini installed on the Win98 active primary partition. Win7 doesn't use a boot.ini anymore, but the structural layout seems to be the same, with the System partition acting as the active primary partition holding the actual booting software, by whatever name it's now called. That being the case, you should be able to first, shrink the C:\ drive (/dev/sda2) to clear enough free space for a Linux installation, then delete that partition, taking note of the start and end sectors as they exist after the shrinking. You would then create an extended partition using all of the free space on the hard drive, and recreate the resized C:\ drive as a logical partition (/dev/sda5) using the start and end sectors that you previously took note of. The remaining free space would then be able to be partitioned as you wish for the Linux installation.
I know that sounds flaky, but the partition and the filesystem it contains, are two separate entities so the partition can be deleted and recreated without any damage to the filesystem within, as long as the same start and end sectors are maintained. You may have to mount the System partition and edit one of the files within to direct the loader to the new /dev/sda5 logical partition, just as the old boot.ini file needed to be edited on the older Win systems under similar circumstances. Were I you, I'd investigate what files are actually in the System partition, and see what their contents might be, before doing anything else. Look for a text file that refers to the present Win C:\ drive. That would be the one that would need to be edited.
Linux doesn't care whether it's on a primary or logical partition, it will boot with equal ease from either. The / partition that my presently running installation uses is /dev/sda9, with other Linux systems installed on /dev/sda3, /dev/sda7, /dev/sda8, /dev/sda14, /dev/sda15, /dev/sda16, and /dev/sda17.