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Partitioning Hard Disk #1. Does this make sense?


I just got a new Disk 1 (i.e., my Slave HD. 250 GB, for Video editing and backing up Master drive).

I'd like to have a clean Partition for testing software installs, e.g., making sure that all dependent files are included, etc.

I figured I'd create 1 or 2 Primary partitions for testing. Making them Primary so that I can boot from them. One would contain Windows XP. The other would have Windows 98 or such.

Then my last partition would be the one I actually use on a daily basis.

DISK 1 (Slave Disk)
Primary partition 1, Win XP, 5 GB.
- enough for the O/S and space to back it up so that I can restore it to pristine condition whenever I like.

Primary partition 2, Win 98, 1. 5 GB
-same deal as Partition 1.

Primary Partition 3:  data, backups of C:, etc.: remaining space (about 240 GB).

Anyone see a problem with this or can suggest something significantly better?

(Yes, I've considered Virtual PC for testing, but I prefer the real O/S and we don't need to do a lot of that sort of testing. And why blow $300 if we don't need to?)

The real Entrepreneur
Friday, February 13, 2004

You can use XOSL, it's a good boot manager, and the os can boot from extended partition (my linux boots from hda5).

Richard Sunarto
Friday, February 13, 2004

I did exactly this with Partition Magic. Here's what I found.

1. Because of the boundary beyond which you can't have a bootable partition, you may not end up with as much room as you wanted. I forget what the number is.. 4 gigabytes total? I believe the Partition Magic website has information about this, and I'm not positive the second partition can't pass the boundary, as it would if you had just one partition.

2. For some strange reason, when you install the 2nd partition, some of the settings in the primary partition may change. I had 98se on my primary partition and when I installed XP, some things in 98 changed. If I recall correctly, mostly having to do with IE. Maybe it's a quirk of the Partition Magic software, I believe it said I could share apps across OS's.

For this reason I don't know if you'll get a completely clean base from which to test, though other methods of partitioning may yield different results.
Friday, February 13, 2004

"Why blow $300 if we don't need to?"

If your time is worth $75/hr, and you save four hours reusing images instead of installing and reinstalling operating systems...

Also, with Virtual PC you can switch between builds at the flick of a switch - I have a Win2k3/Sharepoint image, a Windows 2000/SQL/Reporting services image, a Yukon image, a Whidbey image, a WinXP/Office image, etc, etc...

I can switch from Yukon to Sharepoint in a few minutes.


Friday, February 13, 2004

Isn't this your fourth or fifth post in your "I'm having trouble installing a hard drive" saga?  I think we should start sending you a bill.  <g>

Robert Jacobson
Friday, February 13, 2004

I second the comment about XOSL. Works well for me.

Dave Hallett
Friday, February 13, 2004

Remember to install win 98 first, or it will overwrite the XP boot partition.

The boundary is 1024 cylinders, but all HDs in the last seven years use LBA so that does not matter, except possibly for Linux. However your boot sector is going to be on C for all partitions so it's a red herring.

If you keep the partitions totally separate (that is to say don't share any programs between them), there will be no interference. What Mark is mentioning must either be from using shared programs, or sharing some of those things that musicians smoke while working.

Stephen Jones
Friday, February 13, 2004

Daddy, what is a "windows 98" ???


Friday, February 13, 2004

Totally doesn't make sense.

The best way to do this kind of testing is VMWare Workstation.

You don't have to fiddle with disk partitions, you don't have to reboot your computer just to bring up a Win 98 box to test, and you'll have the flexibility to make as many test configurations as you want, for the next time a big customer insists that your software doesn't run on Japanese Windows ME.

And it's FAST. Really fast. It takes me about 30 seconds to get a running box in any OS that I've set up, because VMWare lets you suspend a running virtual computer and resume where you left off, so you don't even have to wait for boot.

And it's much more reliable for what you're talking about -- making sure that all the SETUP files are included -- because it just takes one click to get your virtual machine back to a known pristine state.

We've been doing it that way for years with great success.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Friday, February 13, 2004

Does VMWare have the ability to store more than one snapshot yet?

I haven't used it in a little while, but I found this limitation to be a bit of a stumbling block. Not a deal-breaker, but annoying.

Or is there a reason why this can't/shouldn't be done?

Friday, February 13, 2004

"Does VMWare have the ability to store more than one snapshot yet?"

Can't you just copy the data files somewhere else via a simple shell script? I know after setting up a perfect test image on one machine I could copy the data files between machines at will with great success (the miracle of virtualized hardware -- beautiful software that approaches magic).

Dennis Forbes
Friday, February 13, 2004

That would be a solution. I wasn't aware that that was even possible. Thank ya.

I'm just curious then why they made that decision. Seems even less understandable now.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Ok, Joel and Philo have convinced me :-) 

I'm thinking Virtual PC 2004 is the way to go.

And it's now only $129 or so.

Only downside I see is that it doesn't support USB devices.  Not a problem for me.

The real Entrepreneur
Friday, February 13, 2004

I agree with joel here.  Computers are getting so fast and cheap, why bother with all that partitioning stuff?  I spent way too much of my youth doing these things...  VMWare is spendy, but my time isn't free...

christopher baus (
Friday, February 13, 2004

"What Mark is mentioning must either be from using shared programs, or sharing some of those things that musicians smoke while working. "

Nope, it was a mystery to me, and for the record, I never smoked the stuff. Just after installing XP, I believe it was my bookmarks were somehow updated on 9x.
Friday, February 13, 2004

Shouldn't happen if you have the installations completely separate. Did you have a shared favourites folder.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, February 14, 2004

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