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I would like to replace the HD in my laptop (ASUS i3, 4GB, 13.3") for a SSD. The information I've found is not precise.

I would appreciate your advice/links on:

  1. Preparation of SSD.
  2. Partitions on a 240Gb SSD: Boot/Ubuntu/Windows/data.
    • Size of partitions.
    • Steps.
  3. Installing Ubuntu 12.04.
  4. Installing Windows 7.

I intend to prepare a document with all the steps once the installation is completed.

Thanks!

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1 Answer

Ok, I'll take a shot at this... Keep-in mind that there really is no one, true way to accomplish each of the steps you have indicated. Especially with partitioning strategy, there are multiple schools of thought on how to do that efficiently. What I have here is based-on my experiences (and failures).

For some specific points on Ubuntu filesystems on an SSD, you should see this question: Installing Ubuntu on a SSD

This is the order that I would go with:

  • Install Windows (leave space for Ubuntu as "unallocated")
  • Adjust Windows partitions as-needed (OS, Data, etc...)
  • Install Ubuntu

For a partitioning strategy on a 240GB drive, it really depends on what you want to do with your system. I've installed Ubuntu on as little as 20GB before, but I usually prefer to have 80GB if I can help it. But I mainly use Ubuntu for internet, school and coding. I don't really do a whole lot with video, photos or games in Linux. If you do, you'll want to take that into consideration. Without really knowing how you intend to use it, I would set-aside 50-80GB for Ubuntu.

The Ubuntu installer will recommend a partitioning strategy for you. One mistake that (I feel) many new Linux users make, is that they put their "home" mount point on the same partition as root. I feel it's a good idea to have your "home" directory on its own partition. This way, your data is isolated if you should happen to (mess up and have to) reinstall Ubuntu at some point. Again, the size of your "home" partition will vary on what you want to do with Ubuntu.

Another key Linux partition is your "Swap Space" partition. There's an old rule of thumb that says you make this equal to twice the size of your RAM. Here is an article explaining why that's not necessarily the case (any longer). Opinions may vary, but for a typical desktop install, you shouldn't need to go much beyond 2GB. You might need more if you're doing Linux kernel development or planning on using "suspend to disk." But if you are not a very experienced Ubuntu/Linux user, just accept the value suggested by the Ubuntu installer, and you should be ok.

A Windows 7 install will take 20-30GB for the OS right away. As updates come in, that will grow, too (mine does, at least). So I would plan on a 50-60GB OS partition for windows. Again, opinions differ here, but I would use the remaining disk space (~100GB or whatever you end-up with) as a data partition for Windows 7. For me, this is where I install all of my games (Left4Dead2, KOTOR1 & 2, BF2142, etc...). Again, having a separate data partition offers a level of protection against any issues that might befall your OS.

Also during the Windows install, make sure you leave the remaining 90GB (or whatever) of your disk as "unallocated" for Ubuntu.

As long as I'm talking about Windows 7, make sure that you do that installation first. Windows isn't designed to "play well with others" by default. If you install it after Ubuntu, you'll have to (do some Googling and) take some extra steps to make Ubuntu bootable again. I always find that it's much easier to install Windows first, and then Ubuntu and GRUB (boot loader) second. Typically, GRUB finds Windows and puts it into the boot menu for you.

The Ubuntu installer is fairly easy to use. The only issues I've typically had at this point (with many Linux flavors), is that the installer fails to find certain kinds of hard drives. In that case, you might need to provide an additional boot parameter of "pci=nomsi", etc. Once it finds your hard drive, be sure to tell it to use the unallocated space after your Windows partition. This is the point where it should suggest a partitioning strategy.

Once you get all of that selected and provide information for locale, you should be all set to go. That should be enough to get you started. Be sure to let us know how it goes.

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Great advice! i use the laptop mainly for coding, Internet, music and movies. No gaming at all. –  user1571385 Aug 29 '12 at 8:32
    
I want to keep Windows7 mainly because it came with the laptop; 95% of the times i use Ubuntu. For the time being, 60Gb for Windows (including data) i think will be enough. 80Gb for Ubuntu, 4Gb SWAP and whatever is left for /home. Thank you very much for sharing your experience and knowledge. Great advice. –  user1571385 Aug 29 '12 at 8:38
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