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I have Ubuntu running as a vm in VirtualBox at the moment, but in the future, if I want to dual-boot it with Windows or another OS installed on my hard-drive, what partitioning method should I use to make room for it?

1)Manually partition my hard drive via disk management in Windows (or the equivalent in another OS), making appropriate room for the main partition upon which Ubuntu will be installed and swap space;

2)Partition via the Ubuntu installer options;

3)Use gparted or another free tool like it.

I am uncertain as to why I would want to use one over the other.

Lastly, am I correct to think that it would be the acme of foolishness to try to partition drives within a virtual machine (since that partitioning would be inherently limited to the limitations set upon it by the virtualization software, e.g., VirtualBox)?

Thanks!

P.S. Oh, and I am also planning on not modifying the MBR of Windows if I ever do dual-boot with Ubuntu, using instead a piece of free software (like easyBCD or something) to avoid the headaches of Grub being overwritten by a Windows update.

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3 Answers 3

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It all depends on what your current partitioning scheme is and what you want it to look like with Ubuntu installed. If you are familiar with GParted, I would highly recommend running that from the LiveCD and setting up partitions before starting the installer.

P.S. Oh, and I am also planning on not modifying the MBR of Windows if I ever do dual-boot with Ubuntu, using instead a piece of free software (like easyBCD or something) to avoid the headaches of Grub being overwritten by a Windows update.

In that case, use Windows' Disk Management to move/shrink all Windows partitions to the LEFT of the hard disk. You can then start directly with the Ubuntu Installer's partitioner -- create an extended partition in the free space, within which you can create all your Ubuntu partitions, and be sure to install Grub to the extended partition (typically something like /dev/sda5) and NOT to the MBR (/dev/sda).

am I correct to think that it would be the acme of foolishness to try to partition drives within a virtual machine

No. The hard disk in a virtual machine is like any other, so feel free to partition it, dual-boot your virtual machine, triple-boot it even! The only limitation is that of performance compared to a real hard disk, imposed by a combination of Virtualbox and the underlying physical hardware.

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Thanks izx; my current partitions are standard: 1 small "System Reserved" partition (the boot files for Windows?) and 1 large partition that takes up the rest of my disk (Windows main files and my personal files). Also, if I have, say, 50GB devoted to my Ubuntu vm in VirtualBox, and I partition that down the middle via partitioning software installed on Ubuntu or directly via the Ubuntu command line, will that partition only show up within the virtual machine, i.e., if I go to disk management on my host, there will be no evidence of any new partition activity? –  Jay Jun 21 '12 at 21:07
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@Jay, so you would simply shrink that large partition when you were ready. There will be no new partition activity on your host's disk management, no matter what you do to the virtual disk via whatever method. –  izx Jun 21 '12 at 21:10
    
Great- thanks for the info. –  Jay Jun 21 '12 at 21:15
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My experience with using a gparted or disk utility to resize a windows partition is not positive. In a couple of instances the windows partition became corrupt and had to reformat and reinstall windows.

I usually resize the windows partition in windows using the build in disk partitioning tool to free space and then install ubuntu with a LiveUSB on the free space.

About where to install Grub, I always used the default settings and never had problems with it being overwritten by Windows.

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If you're not comfortable repartitioning your disk there is the additional alternative of Wubi, basically Ubuntu inside windows: http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/windows-installer

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