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Sorry for the long read but I tried to be detailed:

Just tonight I went through the steps outlined at the Ubuntu download page, meaning I downloaded the Ubuntu 11.10 ISO and used pendrivelinux in order to make my USB drive bootable. I restart, fix boot order, and we get into the action. My first issue is that this didn't play out like the website said it would: I received no welcome screen like the one shown, just a bunch of code, then the Ubuntu symbol with a list of options under it, I picked install.

At this point I'm supposed to see this image, but instead all I got were the languages and a button to continue. I chose English and continued. The next to steps appeared as they were supposed to but then the 4th step was different. There was no "Install Ubuntu alongside Windows 7" option as there is in this picture, I only had the last two options. Here I chose, "Something else."

Now when the next dialog box opened, I got very confused and did a Google search and watched some videos on YouTube and I thought I would be OK. I was wrong.

So I'm looking at this dialog box informing me of the various partitions on my hard drive. After Googling and YouTubing, I click on my main partition (that has Windows installed with all my various programs, files, etc.), then click "Change..." This partition has approximately 304GB of space, and I want to give Ubuntu 60GB, so I reduce this partition by 65GB (so I can have 5GB of space for the swap file, which I'm sure is more than enough). I change the "Use as:" drop down to ntfs, then hit "OK". I get warned about being unable to undo this, etc., etc., I hit continue and then it does it. It shrinks my partition.

Then a curious thing happens. When in the video (would have linked the video but the spam filter doesn't allow it, can link to it upon request) and the articles, a new option showed up as "free space," which you could then partition, I simply got an option labeled "unusable," which was allotted 65GB.

After toying with that unusable space for a bit I gave up, I quit installation and restarted to make sure Windows still worked. Everything was fine, except when I went to My Computer it said I had 65GB less of hard drive space then I used to have, which I expected. Now my question to you experts is this:

Is there anything I can do about this? If there is, my priorities are thus:

  1. I would still like to install Ubuntu if possible, any help toward that would be fantastic.
  2. If that former is not possible, I would like to try to add this space back to my main partition.

Thank you all so much for you help, it is greatly appreciated.

EDIT: I don't know if this will help any, but my computer is an HP G62 Notebook PC, it has a Pentium Dual-Core CPU, and I have but 3GB of RAM. Hope this information helps. Thanks again!

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

MBR partitioning scheme, used since the times of MS-DOS, only allows for 4 partitions to exist on a physical device. As a work-around, one of these partitions can be an "extended" partition, which can act as a container for more partitions (the partitions outside of an extended partition are called "primary".

So, if you have 4 primary partitions on your disk - even if you resize one of them you won't be able to use that space.

What you need to do is:

  • backup data on the last of your partitions
  • delete it using gparted
  • create an extended partition
  • create two (or more) new partitions inside the extended partition, use one of them to install Ubuntu.

(or, alternatively, you can delete some other less important partition and then move other primary partitions around to free up some space - the point is the same, you need to remove one of the primary partitons to be able to create an extended partition. You can then create a partition inside the extended partition and restore the data you copied from the primary partition you deleted... hope this makes sense)

UPDATE: here's the confirmation that HP G62 laptops come with 4 primary partitions already taken. Also there are some suggestions how to fix this.

Here's a thread on ubuntuforums with some screenshots and suggestions.

share|improve this answer
+1 well researched – Tom Brossman Feb 8 '12 at 10:42
Thank you so much for your answer, I've got class most of the day but will be looking into it afterward. I'll hold off on choosing your answer until I've given this all a go, just in case someone else decides to answer, too. Thanks again! – Zach Feb 8 '12 at 17:26
It's been many months but I finally buckled down and did it. I've spent the past months researching the topic more but I was always fearful and didn't quite understand. Previously I didn't have enough knowledge but I happened upon it just today. Once I learned the difference between a primary, extended, and logical partition, everything seemed to fall into place. I ended up deleting my recovery partition (not smart, I know . . . but I'm in the market for a new comp and I haven't had troubles yet) then created an extended partition with three logical partitions in it where Ubuntu now resides. – Zach Jul 14 '12 at 10:04
I didn't have enough space in the previous comment but I just wanted to again thank you very much for your superb answer. It definitely led me down the right path. – Zach Jul 14 '12 at 10:06

Where you see the "free space" and it says "unusable" - you will have an option that says "Add" - you will need to "Add" a partition in that unusable space. Select Ext4 type, preferably.

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It doesn't say "free space", it says "unusable" - the definition of "unusable" is that it cannot be used, i.e. new partitions can't be created there. – Sergey Feb 8 '12 at 10:25

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