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#1 2013-04-02 05:36:39

ilar
Member
Registered: 2013-04-02
Posts: 7

[SOLVED] Dual booting arch onto an SSD that already has W7 in MBR?

I currently have windows 7 64bit installed onto a 256gb m4 SSD. I would like to be able to dual-boot W7 and Archlinux, but so far I've been getting wildly varying accounts of doom and data deletion from every source that I've looked at- and unfortunately, the Archwiki's guide to dualbooting is out of date.

So here's the questions:
First, is UEFI something I need to look at? At the moment W7 seems to be on MBR. I'm getting conflicting accounts on whether this is not even an issue or if it will attempt to make my computer eat my dog.

Next, what is going on with sectors and alignment and such? Some people ignore them, some people delve so far into it that I think I vaguely know they're still talking about a hard drive.

Which leads me into partitioning, and not doing it in a way that's terrible. I can't find any information on this anywhere that isn't buried within the above-mentioned posts, along with incredibly vague warnings of GParted moving a partition, spoken of in a way as if that data is lost to the twilight zone.

Finally... pulling all this together is the largest issue.

Do any of you know good, factual resources where I can look into this stuff?

Last edited by ilar (2013-04-03 03:53:31)

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#2 2013-04-02 06:39:24

WonderWoofy
Member
From: Los Gatos, CA
Registered: 2012-05-19
Posts: 8,412

Re: [SOLVED] Dual booting arch onto an SSD that already has W7 in MBR?

What makes you think that the Arch wiki page is out of date?  That crazy ominous looking bar on the top has a message in it telling you why the page is out of date.  It is not as significant as that bar might make you think... but it does require that you actually do some reading.

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#3 2013-04-02 07:50:10

ilar
Member
Registered: 2013-04-02
Posts: 7

Re: [SOLVED] Dual booting arch onto an SSD that already has W7 in MBR?

Eh, I did read it. It just doesn't offer as much information as I would like, specifically having no information on UEFI, or anything SSD specific. The parts it has I already knew from setting up a previous arch install.

EDIT: As an update, my motherboard does not support UEFI.

Last edited by ilar (2013-04-02 22:29:02)

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#4 2013-04-02 23:15:28

alexanderthegre
Member
Registered: 2012-07-29
Posts: 66

Re: [SOLVED] Dual booting arch onto an SSD that already has W7 in MBR?

You generally don't need to do any special partitioning for an SSD; if you are on a desktop, and have HDDs available, you might want to put /var on them to put less wear on the SSD. My machine with an SSD runs fine with only one partition, formatted as ext4.

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#5 2013-04-02 23:51:12

WonderWoofy
Member
From: Los Gatos, CA
Registered: 2012-05-19
Posts: 8,412

Re: [SOLVED] Dual booting arch onto an SSD that already has W7 in MBR?

I disagree with the anti-write recommendations all over the internets.  That may have been true of old SSDs, as their wear leveling and garbage collection was pretty wonky.  But these days they are of much higher quality, and the flash will likely outlast the controller. 

Also it seems silly not to put /var on the SSD since that is the filesystem that will benefit the most from fast writes and low seek time.

@OP, just because that one page didn't offer you the volume of information that you need doesn't mean you stop looking there.  The amount of info we have on UEFI in our wiki is pretty staggering actually.  So I think the excuse of not being able to find enough info is not a very good one when you wouldn't have even had to have left our own site here to find a plethora.

As far as SSD specific installation tips, once again... see the wiki.

So there is this really great resource that the community has gone to great lengths to collectively assemble in order to share our knowledge, and it would be great if people would actually read a decent part of it before immediately coming here to ask questions like this.

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#6 2013-04-03 00:58:03

blackout23
Member
Registered: 2011-11-16
Posts: 780

Re: [SOLVED] Dual booting arch onto an SSD that already has W7 in MBR?

If your W7 fills the entire drive at the moment.

1. Shrink Windows (You can do that within Windows via System Settings) to free up space.
2. Create a new parition on your disk with fdisk. Make sure the start sector can be divided by 4 for proper alignment.
3. mkfs.ext4 /dev/yournewpartition
4. mount /dev/yournewpartition /mnt. pacstrap /mnt base.... you know the rest.
5. Write Bootloader to MBR and have it chainload Windows.


And yes you don't need to worry about writing lot's of data to your SSD. They can take thousands of terabytes of write performance before failing.

Last edited by blackout23 (2013-04-03 01:02:50)

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#7 2013-04-03 01:57:41

ilar
Member
Registered: 2013-04-02
Posts: 7

Re: [SOLVED] Dual booting arch onto an SSD that already has W7 in MBR?

WonderWoofy, archwiki has a plethora of information... mostly devoted solely to HDDs, and anything about SSDs does not take into account a possible dualboot setup. For obvious reasons, this isn't something where I just want to assume things will "Just work." I know what UEFI is, and how it works with arch. As you say, the archwiki has plenty of information. What it does not have, is how it interacts with windows in a dualboot situation on MBR. Much of my questions and uncertainty, and the main reason I made this thread, was made obselete when I found that my motherboard, despite being new, does not support UEFI, making it a moot point.

I assure you I read the archwiki quite thoroughly and often, but in this case, it's not just something where I need to just go RTFM, and your rudeness is not appreciated.

blackout23: Thanks for the information.
Some things I've found for future googlers-
Partitions start should be divisible by 4 or 8 at the Erased Block boundary- the END of the partition does not matter.
In GParted, do not let it align to cylinder boundries: SSDs do not have cylinders.

Last edited by ilar (2013-04-03 02:00:56)

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#8 2013-04-03 03:29:56

ANOKNUSA
Member
Registered: 2010-10-22
Posts: 2,141

Re: [SOLVED] Dual booting arch onto an SSD that already has W7 in MBR?

1) If you knew what UEFI was you should have known it wasn't an option, and shouldn't have asked about it.

2) (G)parted and gdisk (if you go with GPT at some point) handle SSD sector alignment automatically, and have for some time.  A google search could have revealed that.

3) Whether one uses an SSD or HDD, dual-booting will be the same: 2+ partitions devoted to separate operating systems.  While SSDs and HDDs may be fundamentally different constructs, booting from them is not different at all.  That's why you aren't finding anything saying such.

4) As for the wiki being out-of-date, the specific reason (as stated page's in the header) is that GRUB legacy is no longer officially supported in Arch.  Disregard that information and use GRUB2/Syslinux/LILO and the process remains the same: Install the operating systems side-by-side and chainload the secondary OS.  It doesn't matter one bit: I've dual-booted every Linux distro I've used over the past four years with Windows, from Ubuntu to Mint to SuSE to Sabayon to Arch to whatever, and I've done it all the exact same way, using HDDs and an SSDs and both in combination.  There's plenty of information out there on this, and your time could better have been spent looking it up rather than arguing with people here. 

5) Welcome to Arch.

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#9 2013-04-03 03:51:43

ilar
Member
Registered: 2013-04-02
Posts: 7

Re: [SOLVED] Dual booting arch onto an SSD that already has W7 in MBR?

I knew what it was- and I had assumed that the new motherboard has support. It turns out I was incorrect when I went to set my BIOS to UEFI boot.
Several google searches announced that they did not.
You are putting words in my mouth.
That's not even relevant to what my question was. Did you even read the post?
I've been using Arch for over a year now.

Regardless, I've mostly figured it out. Thanks again to blackout23 for actually being helpful.

Last edited by ilar (2013-04-03 03:52:51)

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#10 2013-04-03 07:28:13

jacobopantoja
Member
From: Madrid
Registered: 2011-03-16
Posts: 44

Re: [SOLVED] Dual booting arch onto an SSD that already has W7 in MBR?

As per the alignment, the default in all Linux utilities (parted, fdisk, gdisk, etc) is to align to 1MiB boundaries, which should be OK during a long time (until disk logical or physical sectors get 1MiB length... now they are 4KiB as much).

And I agree generally that the info in the wiki is more than enough. It seems that you were thinking that SSD had special considerations for booting, but as stated by ANOKNUSA it is pretty much the same.

In the wiki you can find even information about how to direclty boot Win7 with GRUB2 (instead of chainloading, I mean). If you make any additional findings feel free to edit the wiki page.

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#11 2013-04-03 11:23:21

blackout23
Member
Registered: 2011-11-16
Posts: 780

Re: [SOLVED] Dual booting arch onto an SSD that already has W7 in MBR?

@ilar

You won't lose data by setting up a dual boot. If a bootloader only boots Linux or Windows at some point it can always be fixed. You can always mount the partitions in a live environment and access the data. The data on partitions will never be touched or destroyed. Just make sure to backup your documents ( via dropbox for example) so you can still access them on other PCs if you have to spend some time fixing your dual boot setup.

I have had GPT and MBR dual boot setups on my PC with Arch and Windows. I always prefer Syslinux as bootloader, because it is a lot easier to maintain, install and configure than the new GRUB 2.

Dual Boot on SSD really isn't any different than on a HDD. Even fdisk will automatically give you good alignment and start the first partition at sector 2048 if you partition a blank hard drive/SSD. I never use Gparted I find fdisk (for MBR) and gdisk (for GPT) quite easy to work with, since both have the same kind of syntax. Add new partitions with "n" and go through the steps it asks you. Print current partition table with "p". Write new partitions with "w". Or start over with "o". That's all you need.

Last edited by blackout23 (2013-04-03 11:28:54)

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