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I want to dual boot ubuntu 12.10 with Windows 7 on my laptop. I checked some online guides but each one does it differently. Some only create a / (root) partition and a swap partition while others create a / (root) partition, a boot partition, a home partition and a swap partition. Which guide should I follow? Please help. And what size should I give every partition considering I am going to install Ubuntu on 200GB of my 500GB hard drive?

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I'd recommend having at least 4 primary partitions for a dual-booting computer: 1st for windows OS; 2nd for the Ubuntu file system (plus a logical partition to serve as a swap); a 3rd as a shared Data partition in NTFS to serve both operating systems -- vital for both security of data and to not have redundancies with my programs that sync massive amounts of data locally (Zotero, Dropbox, etc); and 4th as a /home/ folder for Ubuntu.

However, you may have discovered that Windows takes more than one primary partition (it gobbled up 3 in my case, and I was able to reduce it to just 2), which means you may have to set up /home/ partition as a logical partition under the Ubuntu partition. When doing future re-installations of Ubuntu, just make sure to not erase the logical partition for home, and remember to mount it as /home. This can be done during the 'do something else' stage of installing Ubuntu when you specify under which partitions to install Ubuntu and mount-points.

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This depends a bit on how serious you're considering to be with Ubuntu, but in general your answer can be summarized as much:

  • "/" - root point (general system), 20-40GB ext4
    • The folders for applications, libraries and system configurations will reside here. These will live in their own folders, but basically everything except the folder "/home" will be stored on this partition.
  • "/home" - equivalent to "Users"-folder on Windows, available GB, minus space for swap, ext4
    • This should be its own partition to live happily with your favourite content. This is where your movies, pictures and other things will live.
  • "swap" - equivalent to Windows' pagefile, depends on your RAM. swap
    • Swap will be used when the system doesn't have any more physical memory available, or may be used for purposes of hibernating; sleep without the need for any power.

Going deeper in, unless you have very specific needs, you will not need any other mounting points to partitions other than the three above.

However, as you'll be dualbooting with Windows you have to ask yourself whether or not you'll be seriously using Ubuntu. If you'll be using it every now and then, I recommend you just use your already existing data partition for Windows.

On the other hand, if you end up staying here... it'll be a good idea to have a proper "/home" - rather than just mounting your Windows-partition(s).

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Hey, thanks for the info. What about the boot partition? What will it be used for? I want to use Ubuntu for everything except gaming which I'll still be doing on Windows, because I found Ubuntu to be a lot faster than Windows for the day to day tasks. Do you recommend that I create a home partition? – Elias Jan 4 '13 at 20:22
The boot partition isn't required, that is if you're thinking of /boot. If you're thinking of where to place the boot records (something else), then I'd go with the unit where Windows is currently installed. If you'll be using Ubuntu for everything but gaming, then I certainly recommend that you go with a /home partition! – Thor Jan 4 '13 at 23:33
Thanks for all your help. I will dual boot Ubuntu as soon as possible. And I will make sure to create a /home partition. – Elias Jan 6 '13 at 12:51

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