How many mount points do I need? Preparation before the installation.


A big question a new user might ask is why all that trouble with mount and partitions, why not just use that big driver c:\ I have just like they do in Windows.

With today technology it is difficult to point out the advantages/disadvantages between those two methods. In Linux they use mount, in Win2000 they use network browser and explorer. So it may be the user who has the last word. There are two points I want to point out:

1) Unix (born in the late 1960) works with mount points, and Linux (born in the beginning of 1990, an Unix for PC at that time) want to keep that way. And Unix is not designed for a regular user.

2) The logical drive (c:\ d:\ etc) is a new invent in the 1980s.

Compare to c:\ Linux has /boot, compare to c:\windows Linux has /usr, compare to c:\windows\system Linux has /bin. It looks very similar, just another way to think.

The following I try to give you some hints to overcome that mount question.

Let go:

Before installation you need to have about 3.5 Gbytes disk free (1Gbytes is enough if you do not use KDE/GNOME Window Manager and you do not need all the development tools or many of the other useful applications). If you like all the GNU software and like games, 10 Gbytes will not hurt.

For those who want to install Linux on a PC without any other OS (Operative System) or install it on a separate hard disk please jump to the Installation section below.

A multi mixing boot system:

Let say you have 2 disks, the first disk is for OS2 and the second is for Win98. You want to use some of the free space (you must have more than 3.5 Gbytes free on that disk) on the second disk for Linux. Please remember this assuming for easy the explanation below.

There are two important things you need to know:

1) You are not able to boot if the boot-data not reside within the first 1024 cylinders of a disk (see the specification of your disk or use fips.exe (see the next section)). The trick is to make a "primary partition hole" (25Mbytes is more than enough) within the 1024 cylinders of the second disk. Partition Magic can do it. (the other solution is to delete Win98, install it on the same disk with OS2 and use the whole second disk for Linux). The image below shows a 25Mbytes hole between cylinder 377 and 379 (1 block = 1024 bytes; please ignore the other informations). Let the 25 Mbytes be there we use it late.

2) The partition that you use for Linux may be a primary partition. We take care of it late on (easy), at first you must run defrag.exe and then use Partition Magic or fips.exe (on RedHat CD1) to split the disk to two partitions. The first is for the old Win98, the second partition is for Linux. Thanks to Partition Magic/Fips.exe your data will not be destroyed.

Control the new partition with Dos’s fdisk.exe, the type of the new partition must show as a Non-DOS (must not be an EXT Dos, see the image below; please ignore all the other informations).

Sorry it is on danish. The image shows the Non-DOS on the second primary partition (you are able to make four primary partitions on a disk).

You are finished with the preparation, now let run the setup (either from Redhat’s CD1 or from a boot floppy disc).


You need only two partitions, one for the root directory (/) and one for the swap (in case of lacking of primary partition, you can use a swap file instead. It can be done after the installation. The command is mkswap and swapon). Inside the root directory Linux will put the other directories like /boot, /usr, /home etc. (NB: the benefit to have multiples partitions is: to limit the fragmentation, files movement will be limited inside its own partition.)

After the keyboard and mouse setup the Linux installation will ask you to either use FDISK or DISK DRUID to setup the partitions. Choose DISK DRUID. It is very easy to use DRUID, just tell DRUID where the free space is and how big the partition should be. It is all.

Look carefully at the following two images for the Druid tool, before read the explanation below.

The first screen dump is the partition definition for the /(root) partition and the second screen dump is for the swap partition.

The / partition: reserved 3 Gbytes from the disc hdc (in this example hda is the first disk, hdb is the CDROM and hdc is the second disc) for the root partition, and making that partition as a primary partition (the second line from the bottom).

The Swap partition: I use the rest of the space (about 400 Mbytes) for the filesystem "swap". NB: The swap does not had a mount point, since only the kernel uses it.

Isn't it easy? The mount/partition question is now over. Remember the time you install Windows, it asks you too where to place the files c:\windows or d:\win98 etc. So it is not quite strange at all, just another way to think.

For those who has a "multi mixing boot system" (see above) you need to add a third partition called /boot. This third partition resides on the 25 Mbytes hole I mention in the "multi mixing boot system" section. The installation will install all the boot-data there.

After a short time, you will be ask for choosing GRUB or LILO to be your boot manager. Choose GRUB, it is a new powerful tool (and I had written a hint about it too J ). It will then ask if you want to install GRUB at the "MBR" or at the "Primary Partition...". Choose MBR if you want GRUB to take control for the boot procedure for all other OSs. Choose "Primary Partition…" if you want to keep your old boot manager. For those who only has Linux, please choose the MBR option.

Just a sample, how Linux boot manager looks like.

Good luck for the rest of the installation.

Copenhagen 2002, Tuan Nguyen