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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Gparted: A Pictorial Guide

The credit of the original guide and the images goes to Bertender of TSF. I am thankful to him for allowing me to post it in my blog. I have done some editing only, but the original flavour is retained.
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Some Basic Moves with Gparted

Disclaimer: I'm not a Linux expert. Don't get me wrong, the guide works. But this little exercise was like wandering around some huge mansion. Every doorway opened into a new hall with more doorways. Most of these new halls promised mysterious new opportunities for mayhem. It was frustrating to write this because I felt a need to add “I don't know what would happen if you did this instead of that” every few lines. So I'll say it once and we'll move on.



The Goal and the Assumptions


The goal here is to set up a HDD for a dual-boot Linux install as simply as possible. The Gparted
LiveCD (GPLCD) includes text-based partitioners but we're going to stick with the nice big graphics interface.

The assumptions are that you already have a Linux distro installed. As you will see when we get into this, you could just as easily have a blank HDD or one with Windows or whatever on it, but it's so easy to delete all previous data with the GPLCD that I'm going to stick to the plan.

Step 1: Download the latest GPLCD and convert the .iso to a bootable CD. This is the same process you'd use to make a bootable Linux CD from the .iso download. Check to make sure your BIOS is set to boot from optical drive. Toss in the CD, restart the PC.

  1. Gnome Partition Editor 3.0 splash screen Press “Enter” or wait 20 seconds.
  2. Extra Boot Options I pressed “Enter” key
  3. LiveCD Language - US English “Enter” “Enter”
  4. LiveCD Keymap - qwerty “Enter”
  5. Display Depth - 24 “Enter”
  6. LiveCD XRES – 1024X768 “Enter”

Gnome Partition Editor 3.0 splash returns while CD spins hard. I get the Gparted partition map, some text below describing partitions, and a panel along bottom of screen with options.

Sometimes the panel along the bottom edge of the screen comes up incorrectly and I can only see the top of it. I right-clicked on the panel, left-clicked on “Customize Panel”. A window pops up saying panel is 48 pixels. I bumped that up one pixel, Close, and the panel displayed OK. I went back into “Customize” and set it back to 48, and the panel was still OK, so it's just a glitch.

Let's establish some terminology. Working down from the top, we have 2 tool bars, a map of the
partitions, and a text list of the partitions. Once you create a job for GPLCD a new window pops up in the lower part of the screen that lists pending tasks. Here's what the original install looks like – just Ubuntu 6.10, installed automatically to the entire HDD. As simple as it gets.





GPLCD with Ubuntu 6.10

One huge primary partition, and one extended partition with Linux swap tucked inside. I don't know enough about partitions to explain extended partitions. I just know that the typical Linux installer will make an extended partition and Linux swap will nestle inside it.

****ext3 is the file system that the present Linux System follows, its predecessor was ext2. As Windows prefer NTFS, Linux uses ext3. SWAP is the Linux analog of the Windows' Page file. Its file system is also called SWAP. It is best to make a new logical partition of about double the size of available RAM, and ask the Installer or Partitioning utility like Gparted to format it as Linux SWAP. If nothing is mentioned Linux will by default create a separate SWAP space in the Root [mentioned as Primary in this tutorial] Partition. But tis will degrade Linux performance considerably. If you have 2 HDDs, the best option is to make the Root in the Master HDD and the SWAP in the 2nd HDD.****

The simplest thing to do would be just create another ext3 primary partition, but if you do that the extended partition will hold on to its designation as hda2 and your new primary will be hda3. I didn't like that, so I wiped the extended partition out and rebuilt it after making the second primary.


Resize /dev/hda1




  1. Right-click on hda1 anywhere on the map.
  2. Left-click 'Resize'
  3. Click on the right-hand edge of the partition and drag it to the left (as shown above)
  4. When the counters are even (or wherever you want them) release the mouse
  5. Click on 'Resize/Move' click on Apply in the second tool bar
  6. Apply in the new window
  7. Close
Get Rid of Linux swap

  1. Right-click on the Linux swap in map
  2. Delete
  3. Apply > Apply > Close
  4. Now go down to the text list, right-click on hda2
  5. Delete
  6. Apply > Apply > Close
Results of Resizing Primary and Removing swap




We now have the resized primary with 6.10 still intact, and one unallocated section of 56.9 GiB


Create Second Primary Partition


  1. Right-click on unallocated section of map
  2. Click on “New”
  3. Create as: Primary Partition
  4. File system: ext3 (take a look at above screen shot)
  5. Grab right edge of partition and drag it back to make room for swap. I chose 2 GB. What the hey
  6. Click 'Add' Apply > Apply > Close

Rebuild Linux Swap


  • 1. Right-click on unallocated section of map, click “New”
  • 2. Create as 'Extended Partition' (see above)
  • 3. Add > Apply > Apply > Close


  • 4. Now you go down to the text part, and right-click on the “unallocated” line, click “New”
  • 5. Filesystem: 'linux-swap'
  • 6. Add > Apply > Apply > Close

That wasn't so bad, was it?

You now have two primary ext3 partitions and one swap inside its extended partition. Don't forget, two or more Linux distros can share the one swap partition.


To close out of GPLCD, click the red “Shut Down” button. You get an “Eject and Reboot” window. Click OK. The optical drive tray opens. Take out your GPLCD, click OK, PC reboots.


Note: Once or twice now GPLCD didn't shut down correctly. It ejected the CD, then closed the tray, then it sat there. I waited several minutes, then held down the power button for 5 seconds. Didn't affect the results at all.


One thing I worried about was whether changing the name of the swap partition would bork the
existing Linux install. So after removing GPLCD and rebooting Ubuntu 6.10 I ran sudo fdisk -l. It reported the new extended and swap locations correctly as hda3 and hda5. If I knew how to actually test swap usage I would but I think it's OK.


******GParted is a GUI based third party partition manager but not like Partition Magic; you need to boot with it to use it. Its based on FluxBox Linux flavor. It gives you more consistent results than Partition magic or other commercial partition managers,and it can handle all sorts of file types quite perfectly. Moreover it comes free. This is a gem of Free and Open Source Software Movement. I hope this guide will help more people to use Gplcd as well as other Open Source Softwares.******


1 comment:

gxsaurav said...

nice work dude!get this digged(digg.com) on..and let ppl realize the goodness of OSS.