For an assignment in a computer programming class, we have to install 3 linux distributions on one machine from three different trees. I chose to install Ubuntu, Fedora, and OpenSUSE. I already dual-boot Ubuntu and Windows 7, but I'm not sure about the partitioning. I have 460GB of space in my Windows partition (sda1), and 15GB in my Ubuntu partition (sda2), and was wondering how to go about partitioning for two more OSs (creating sda3 and sda4). I have 240GB of free space in my windows partition, and don't want to lose any data. I have backed up everything currently on the machine to external discs, so my question is:
(a) What is the best way to partition the drive from within Windows (shrink the volume)?
(b) Is it easier to shrink the volume from inside the Fedora or OpenSUSE install menus?

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I think the easiest way to partitioning hard disk is using GParted.
On each HDD, you can only have 4 primary partition. With the one you're in now, you may have this partition setup

Partition #1 System Reserved
Partition #2 Windows 7
Partition #3 Ubuntu

to break those partition limit, you have to convert one primary partition to extended partition and you can create more partition afterwards.

For bootloading (multi-boot), you might have to find another way to make each OS's bootable since I'm only familiar with dual-boot only...

I did not see any section marked 'system reserved'. Will it just not show up by defualt or is it possible there is not one?
I knew you could have only 4 partitions, so is it possible for my current setup:
sda1 (Win7) 462000 MB
sda2 (Ubuntu) 15000 MB
free space 1 MB
to become:
sda1 (Win7) 442000 MB
sda2 (Ubuntu) 15000 MB
sda3 (Fedora-15) 10000 MB
sda4 (OpenSUSE) 10000 MB
free space 1 MB
without using extended partitions?

Does your assignment require you to physically install three operating systems, or can you prepare 3 Virtual Machines, and call it done?

You may wish to check with your professor, but in my opinion, you would best off picking a base operating system, in your case unfortunately Windows 7, and from there, install a virtual machine program (Virtualbox is free) and from there, setup three virtual machines.

Choosing Ubuntu, Fedora, and OpenSuse will expose you to the three major distributions... Debian style (apt-get), Fedora-Redhat style (yum), and OpenSuse (yast).

You might even be able to earn bonus points if you have enough RAM, and run all three operating systems at the same time. If you create a shared folder, you might be able to have all three see a sharepoint, and exchange files among themselves.

I do have the specs to run a virtual machine, but unfortunately it must be three physical OSs from three major distros. I'm going to try and grab a 320GB Hard Drive from an older laptop and wipe it and just install clean.

I decided to change to an old desktop that I had lying around which already had Ubuntu 10.10 on it. I installed OpenSUSE 11.4, but when I did, it wiped the GRUB and it can only boot into SUSE. Ubuntu is still there, however, as I can see when I went back to re-install it thinking it had been wiped. How do I install 1 more distro on the free space without wiping the GRUB again and get the option to boot into Ubuntu?

Wowsers! Cannot use a VM to accomplish this.

The following I haven't tried, but is the approach I would take:

Format the drive completely empty. Install each Linux to it's own partition, and keep track of which one was done first. I would do Ubuntu first, then OpenSUSE, and then Fedora. Make sure you do an advanced install, or at least have the option to customize your hard drive layout. Each one would only need to be say 20 GB in size... Have the Fedora partition write to the master boot record.

Once everything is installed, you should be able to either run a rescue / repair disk, or boot knoppix, and edit the /boot/grub/grub.conf and define each bootable partition. Make some meaningful descriptions. You will need to do this if you
install Windoze last, as it will clobber anything that grub setup.

Next, you need to edit your grub.conf file to ensure each partition is properly listed. Note the root (hd0,1) area... that is hard disk 0, partition 1. You will need an entry for each linux version (hd0,1) (0,2) (0,3) but properly aligned.

My /boot/grub/grub.conf has these lines:

title Fedora (version)
root (hd0,1)
kernel <bunch of stuff>

title Looze XP
rootnoverify (hd0,0)
chainloader +1

The problem was with the order. I was installing OpenSUSE first, and GRUB Legacy was too difficult to add Fedora and Ubuntu to. So I installed Fedora first, then Ubuntu and GRUB 2 added Ubuntu to the boot menu. Then I installed OpenSUSE without the bootloader and ran grub-update and it worked. It did add about 8 entries to the boot meny for SUSE instead of 1, but they all boot fine so it worked for the assignment. Thanks for everyone's help.

Just a quick note in relation to an early post: although gparted is an easy to use partition edition, Windows7 can get confused and refuse to boot when it hasn't done the partitions itself. I've had this happen on a machine which now will only boot on Linux (even though Windows7 figures in the grub menu and still occupies 250Gb).
So what I'd suggest is 1. use the Windows tool to resize the partitions, leaving unallocated disk space. Then reboot, just to make sure. 2. Use gparted, or your distros installation partition software (ubuntu uses gparted), to chop up and format the unallocated space.

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