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I am new to Ubuntu and tried to dual-boot my laptop with Ubuntu 14.04 along with my pre-installed Windows 8.1. During the installation process in step 3 Ubuntu didn't detect my Windows 8.1, so I chose "Something Else" to create partitions manually, but in the Partitions Window, I see something unusual to me.

I have 3 drives labeled C:/, E:/, and F:/ but in the partitions window it's showing something from sda1 to sda6 and with 2 times free space 1 MB.

  • I just have no idea why it's showing this free memory 1 MB
  • Where should I install Ubuntu?

GParted screenshot: GParted (extracted from link in comments by OP)

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    So, /dev/sdXY are the usual partition designators in the Linux world. Having 1MB of free space gaps between partitions is a common practice to prevent overlapping. It looks like the three NTFS partitions, sda4, sda5 and sda6 are your "3 drivers", and you'll need to resize (or delete) one of them to create space for Ubuntu. You do need to create separate partitions for Ubuntu - the usual root and swap. – mikewhatever Jan 2 '15 at 9:44
  • Depends. Obviously, you don't want to delete the partition with Windows8, which is why I said resize or delete. On the other hand, deleting a storage partitions with nothing important on it is no big deal. Where have you planned to install Ubuntu? – mikewhatever Jan 2 '15 at 10:04
  • What's "a separate disk"? – mikewhatever Jan 2 '15 at 10:24
  • ...and where would you put G:\? There is no free space for it right now, and so, at least one of the existing partitions would need to be resized or deleted to create space for G:\. In short, you need to familiarize yourself with the Linux terminology, and watch a few partitioning howtos on youtube, untill it stops feeling unusual. I am not really sure there is a way around the learning curve. – mikewhatever Jan 2 '15 at 14:20
  • @mikewhatever: can you delete your comments, except the first one to keep things uncluttered? (Vivek and me already deleted ours) – Fabby Jan 6 '15 at 10:43
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Everything just became much clearer! :-) You have an UEFI system, so read the following articles before continuing:

Official Ubuntu Documentation - UEFI

Official Ubuntu Documentation - UEFI and BIOS

Still there? OK, now on to the real answer:

  • Forget about the 1MB gaps: Just think of them as "rounding errors" to align the separate logical partitions to hardware cylinders on your disk. Not worth the hassle: combined they're only 0.43% of your 465GB disk (/dev/sda).
  • A Windows "drive" can be a partition or an entire hard disk. You never know until you go to gparted or the Windows disk manager.
  • /dev/sda1 is a hidden recovery partition on your disk. You should have some tools inside Windows to burn this data to DVD (which manufacturers are too stingy to give away any more). After burning your 'recovery CDs/DVDs' this partition can be deleted. (refer to the manufacturer's documentation how to do this) This should free up 615MB of disk space.
  • /dev/sda2 is your UEFI BOOT partition (you should know by now what that means!) :P ;-)
  • /dev/sda3 is a Microsoft (msft) Reserved (res) Partition: The day you finally decide to completely move over to Ubuntu, this partition can be safely deleted, but for dual-boot purposes do not touch! ;-)
  • /dev/sda4 is your Windows C:\ drive! (and that is why you got all these fuzzy "well, it depends" Ubuntu answers until now: we just don't know how your manufacturer has installed your disks, nor what you did to your disks afterwards.)
  • /dev/sda5 is your Windows E:\ drive, (very probably) containing your data, excluding media
  • /dev/sda6 is your Windows F:\ drive, (very probably) containing your videos and music and pictures.

Final answer:

If I would have your machine, I would:

  1. Take a full system backup before starting just in case I made a mistake.
  2. In Windows:

    Use the correct Windows procedure to move c:\users to E:\ data drive (if not already done so) and incorporate E:*.* directories into E:\Users\Documents, Favorites, ...

    Ensure [Everyone] has write access to E:\ (the default)

  3. Shut down Windows: This is the most important step: Do not hibernate, hybrid hibernate, whatever, but fully shut down the entire machine!

  4. Boot the Ubuntu CD, Choose "try" and then In gparted:

    Shrink /dev/sda4 to 128GB by clicking on the right side of sda4 and sliding it to the left. (128G is plenty of space for Windows and all of its applications)

    In the free space, create a swap partition equal to the size calculated here

    Allocate the rest of the free space to an EXT4 partition.

  5. Still in the "try" mode, now choose "Install Ubuntu" from the desktop, and during the install, follow the correct UEFI procedure, then during the install procedure at "Step 4: Allocating drive space", something else

take "something else" and allocate "swap" to the swap partition created above and allocate / to the EXT4 partition created above.

And now personal preference, (feel free to differ) use /dev/sda5 for my /home directory. Ubuntu can read and write to NTFS partitions so when you boot into Ubuntu /users will also contain all of the directories and files from your E:\users and your Windows will also contain all of your Ubuntu files in a directory called E:\home.

As long as you're a disciplined admin of both your Windows and your Ubuntu the above should pose no problem!

So if you don't go deleting stuff or changing permissions in E:\home\ from Windows or deleting and modifying /users/ from Ubuntu, both OSes data files can co-exist peacefully on one drive (It's a bit like allowing muslims to pray in a catholic church or vice versa. I ran like this for 6 months before deleting Windows and converting all my disks to EXT4)

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    Thanks for taking time to post such a great answer. The part of your answer I liked the most is so when you boot into Ubuntu "/users" will also contain all of the directories and files from your E:\users and your Windows will also contain all of your Ubuntu files in a directory called E:\home. Want to give you +1, but low repotation, sorry ;) :D – Vivek Jan 6 '15 at 10:47
  • Do you know how to make a full system back-up? If not, download CloneZilla and do a disk-to-image backup on an external HDD using a CloneZilla live CD... – Fabby Jan 6 '15 at 10:51

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