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Setting up a dual drive for the first time. Help!

kay-dee

Member
Hello everyone, my first post...

I’ve been struggling with Linux for over four years. It’s been tough, mostly I think (and hope), because of hardware issues, specifically cheap Lenovo Thinkpads. My e11 could hardly run Windows, leave alone Linux. And my x230 also has problems.

On my recent trip to Florida from the DR, I acquired a Clevo N141ZU, dual drive: 250 Gb SSD and a 1Tb HHD. I have the Intel i7 processor with 32 Gb of RAM installed. The computer runs in UEFI mode.

Currently the Clevo has Ubuntu/Mate installed as root on the SSD. There is nothing on home, the HHD.

After several distros, I settled on Zorin 15 and want it as root and I already have the ISO on a live stick. Zorin will be the only operating system installed.

I’ve done a bit of reading on the process involved, setting up the dual drives. Nothing I’ve found is specific to Zorin but they talk about a special tool in Ubuntu that supposedly makes the process easy. I don’t know if this extends to Zorin. Also, I installed Gparted if that helps.

I’m still a newbie when it comes to Linux. Is there any specific tutorials that will walk me, step by step, through this process? With 32 Gb of RAM, I figure a small SWAP file of about 6 or 8 Gigs should be fine without worrying about hibernation issues.

I have a few other questions about working with a dual hard drive system but those can wait.

Any thoughts, assistance, encouragement, and direction, most appreciated.

Katie
 


Vrai

Well-Known Member
I haven't installed Zorin in several years but it has been my experience when installing a wide variety of different Linux distros the installers provide the option of where to put /(root), /Home, etc.
I don't know of any problem with putting /(root) on one partition and /Home on a separate partition on a second drive. There may be some cli magic involved to ensure /Home gets mounted at boot.
Interesting scenario.
 

Alexzee

Well-Known Member
Before you install Zorin to your Lenovo thinkpad make sure you know if it's 32-bit or 64-bit machine.

I last checked on Zorin a few years ago and if my memory serves me correctly Zorin runs on an 18 month cycle. So unless the Zorin Team changed that you will have to perform a fresh installation of Zorin every 18 months.

Since you have dual drives you could install Zorin on one drive and than install another Linux distro on the other drive.
I wouldn't put the root partition on one drive and put another partition on a different drive. Keeping the ext4 / journaling file system and the linux-swap partition on the same drive is a good practice. IF you manually partition make sure you give the ext4 partition a boot flag.

The special tool that I think you are referring to is the partition manager that comes with Zorin. All Linux distributions come with and installer and a partition manager. AFAIK you can tell the installer to install alongside of the already installed Linux os or you can tell the installer to erase the entire disk and install Zorin.

During the partitioning section of the installation just make sure that you have the correct drive selected before you click install.

You may want to try running Zorin Live on a usb stick or a CD/DVD first before installing to the HDD that way you'll know how well Zorin will run on your thinkpad.

To start the install of Zorin you will have to go into the BIOS of your thinkpad and make the first option in the boot menu usb. To do that make sure the usb of Zorin is already plugged in. Reboot and press the key (F2 on most laptops) to get into the BIOS.

If you're not sure which key it is to get into the BIOS it should say during your flash screen when the thinkpad first boots up.

If you still can't find out what key it is to get into the BIOS post the exact name and model # of your thinkpad so we can look it up. OR> if you have it look in the mobo book.

You could use g-parted to create the partitions that you want to use for Zorin OR> you can just use the partition manager that comes with Zorin. It's up to you.

You may want to pull up g-parted and take a screenshot of what's currently installed on that machine so we can have a look at it. It's up to you.

Another lightweight distro is MX Linux.
It's designed for older computers and runs well.
https://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=mx
 

Alexzee

Well-Known Member
IMO 6 or 8 gig's is overkill for the swap.

I've been running Linux for 8 years and I have always made a 1 or 2 GB swap partition and never had a problem.

Good luck on your fresh installation of Zorin. :)

 

Vrai

Well-Known Member
Hello everyone, my first post...

I’ve been struggling with Linux for over four years. It’s been tough, mostly I think (and hope), because of hardware issues, specifically cheap Lenovo Thinkpads. My e11 could hardly run Windows, leave alone Linux. And my x230 also has problems.

On my recent trip to Florida from the DR, I acquired a Clevo N141ZU, dual drive: 250 Gb SSD and a 1Tb HHD. I have the Intel i7 processor with 32 Gb of RAM installed. The computer runs in UEFI mode.

Currently the Clevo has Ubuntu/Mate installed as root on the SSD. There is nothing on home, the HHD.

After several distros, I settled on Zorin 15 and want it as root and I already have the ISO on a live stick. Zorin will be the only operating system installed.

I’ve done a bit of reading on the process involved, setting up the dual drives. Nothing I’ve found is specific to Zorin but they talk about a special tool in Ubuntu that supposedly makes the process easy. I don’t know if this extends to Zorin. Also, I installed Gparted if that helps.

I’m still a newbie when it comes to Linux. Is there any specific tutorials that will walk me, step by step, through this process? With 32 Gb of RAM, I figure a small SWAP file of about 6 or 8 Gigs should be fine without worrying about hibernation issues.

I have a few other questions about working with a dual hard drive system but those can wait.

Any thoughts, assistance, encouragement, and direction, most appreciated.

Katie
Here are a couple articles which may be of interest;
https://www.howtogeek.com/442101/how-to-move-your-linux-home-directory-to-another-hard-drive/
https://www.maketecheasier.com/install-ubuntu-with-different-root-home-hard-drives/
 

kay-dee

Member
Thanks everyone. I am most gratified by the response to my post.

Thank you Vria, for the links. I haven’t had a chance to read them yet but looks good and the more information I have to work with, the better.

First, to clarify: The two Think Pads are old and have been retired. The computer in question is a new 64-bit Clevo N141ZU with dual hard drives; an SSD and a HHD. It is running in UEFI mode. This my first experience with dual hard drives.

I’ll provide that screen shot of the present set up in my next post. I want to move ahead slowly and get this right the first time :)

I’m not interested in dual operating systems. I want, at this stage at least, to keep things simple.

Alexzee, when you say “Keeping the ext4 / journaling file system and the linux-swap partition on the same drive is a good practice” is the journaling file system the OS? On the SSD? (Sorry. You’re speaking with a newbie, here.)

And do you advise using Gparted or the Zorin Partition Manager... for simplicity?

F2 takes me into bios, no problem, and as mentioned I have made a bootable stick with the most current version of Zorin 15 Core.

Finally, thanks for the heads-up regarding Swap.

I’ll get back to you with that screenshot and hopefully we can proceed from there.

Thanks again, you two...

Katie
 

70 Tango Charlie

Active Member
Greetings @kay-dee,
I don't have anything special to write. Just wanted to welcome you to the best place you can go, to get help with almost any Linux problem you might have!
Enjoy your stay.
Old Geezer
TC
 

poorguy

Well-Known Member
IMO 6 or 8 gig's is overkill for the swap.

I've been running Linux for 8 years and I have always made a 1 or 2 GB swap partition and never had a problem.
Without knowing exactly what you will be doing on your computer and having 32GB of ram I really doubt you will run short of ram.

I create a 2.0GB swap file and never have had an issue.

Perhaps this will explain swap.


 

Alexzee

Well-Known Member
Thanks everyone. I am most gratified by the response to my post.

Thank you Vria, for the links. I haven’t had a chance to read them yet but looks good and the more information I have to work with, the better.

First, to clarify: The two Think Pads are old and have been retired. The computer in question is a new 64-bit Clevo N141ZU with dual hard drives; an SSD and a HHD. It is running in UEFI mode. This my first experience with dual hard drives.

I’ll provide that screen shot of the present set up in my next post. I want to move ahead slowly and get this right the first time :)

I’m not interested in dual operating systems. I want, at this stage at least, to keep things simple.

Alexzee, when you say “Keeping the ext4 / journaling file system and the linux-swap partition on the same drive is a good practice” is the journaling file system the OS? On the SSD? (Sorry. You’re speaking with a newbie, here.)

And do you advise using Gparted or the Zorin Partition Manager... for simplicity?

F2 takes me into bios, no problem, and as mentioned I have made a bootable stick with the most current version of Zorin 15 Core.

Finally, thanks for the heads-up regarding Swap.

I’ll get back to you with that screenshot and hopefully we can proceed from there.

Thanks again, you two...

Katie
Yes, the ext4 / journaling file system is the os.

Yes you can use g-parted or the partition mgr for simplicity. It's up to you.
IMO it's just easier to use the partition mgr that comes with Zorin during the installation.

IF you haven't already disable the secure boot in the BIOS.

When I recently installed Linux on my new gaming rig I had to go into the BIOS and disable the secure boot first.
 

Vrai

Well-Known Member
Thanks everyone. I am most gratified by the response to my post.

Thank you Vria, for the links. I haven’t had a chance to read them yet but looks good and the more information I have to work with, the better.

First, to clarify: The two Think Pads are old and have been retired. The computer in question is a new 64-bit Clevo N141ZU with dual hard drives; an SSD and a HHD. It is running in UEFI mode. This my first experience with dual hard drives.

I’ll provide that screen shot of the present set up in my next post. I want to move ahead slowly and get this right the first time :)

I’m not interested in dual operating systems. I want, at this stage at least, to keep things simple.

Alexzee, when you say “Keeping the ext4 / journaling file system and the linux-swap partition on the same drive is a good practice” is the journaling file system the OS? On the SSD? (Sorry. You’re speaking with a newbie, here.)

And do you advise using Gparted or the Zorin Partition Manager... for simplicity?

F2 takes me into bios, no problem, and as mentioned I have made a bootable stick with the most current version of Zorin 15 Core.

Finally, thanks for the heads-up regarding Swap.

I’ll get back to you with that screenshot and hopefully we can proceed from there.

Thanks again, you two...

Katie
It is my understanding that the ext4 journaling file system is just that - a file system. The "OS" is using that file system - the OS itself is not the "file system". There are many different file systems and every storage media (SSD, HDD, CD, DVD, Flash memory, etc.) must be 'formatted' with some sort of file system so the OS can find the data stored on it. It just so happens that many Linux distros use the "ext4 journaling" file system. You probably already know this but from reading your post it seemed to imply or ask if the ext4 journaling file system IS the OS. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If the 2nd, larger HDD is formatted with the ext4 journaling file system I can see no reason to not put /home on it.

I would put the Linux Swap partition on the faster drive - whichever it is. 2 Gigabytes should be plenty big enough. With that much RAM you will likely never be hitting the swap anyway. I have a desktop machine with 8 gigs of RAM and a laptop with 6 gigs of RAM - both running Linux Mint 19.2 - and whenever I check the Swap it is not being used.

As to whether or not to use the GParted or Zorin partition manager - I would say to use which ever is easiest to understand and use. GParted is very well laid out, very understandable, very capable, and rock solid. I have never had a problem with it. Unfortunately, I have not installed Zorin in quite some time and cannot speak to usability of their partition manager. I wouldn't be surprised if they were using GParted on the back-end.
 

kay-dee

Member
Thank you again, everyone. Very good information.

As requested, the attachments are the two Gparted screenshots of my drives installed on the Clevo.

I read the links you kindly provided, Avai. Really good information there. I feel pretty secure in using Gparted to make the changes to my drives as I do have some limited working knowledge of Gparted plus there are numerous tutorials on You Tube.

And yes, I was unfamiliar with the term “journaling file system” and now realize it’s a component of the operating system.

I’m a little unsure of the UEFI component to the set up, though. If I understand things, the first thing to do after deleting the present partition, is to set the 512 Mb, FAT 32 partition on the SSD, then a 2Mb Swap file (thanks for the info, poorguy), and finally, the Zorin install. Or do I have that backwards? Install Zorin to the SSD first?

In researching this, someone advised that UEFI wasn’t even necessary for the average user and can be turned off. If that’s true, and simplifies things, I’m game.

I assume the HHD will be just one big partition for Home.

And finally, thank you Tango Charlie for the warm welcome. Good to belong.

All for now,

Katie
 

Attachments

Alexzee

Well-Known Member
Looking at the screenshots I see you have a 1 TB drive /dev/sda and a second drive 232.89 GB /dev/sdb.

Are you planning on installing Zorin to /dev/sda?

If so than you partitioned it correctly. :)

You can use g-parted or the partition mgr that comes with Zorin.
As Vrai said the partition mgr that comes with Zorin is probably a back end/flavor of g-parted anyway.

First make your partitions and than install Zorin.

Good luck with your installation.
 

kay-dee

Member
No. I plan to install Zorin to the 232.89 GB /dev/sdb; that being the solid state drive, and use the 1Tb drive for storage.
Still not sure about the UEFI partition. I see it on the SSD drive already. Can I leave it as is and just delete the partition that holds Ubuntu, replacing it with Zorin? Or do I have to rebuild the entire drive?
Thank you,
Katie
 

Alexzee

Well-Known Member
No. I plan to install Zorin to the 232.89 GB /dev/sdb; that being the solid state drive, and use the 1Tb drive for storage.
Still not sure about the UEFI partition. I see it on the SSD drive already. Can I leave it as is and just delete the partition that holds Ubuntu, replacing it with Zorin? Or do I have to rebuild the entire drive?
Thank you,
Katie
Ok-

If your going to delete the Ubuntu partition than you should use the partition manager that comes with Zorin to do that during the installation.

I would delete the old Ubuntu partitions and than create 3 new partitions for Zorin.
Once you delete those partitions you will have free space.

From the free space create a boot/efi/ 512 MiB partition.
Create a 1 to 2 GB swap partition and than using the remaining space create a partition for Zorin.
 
Last edited:

kay-dee

Member
Thank you. I’m sure you think I’m dragging this process out and I apologize for that. But I’m scared :)

Just to be sure, here is the sequence as I understand it:
Make a bootable stick from the Zorin ISO file, (done and tested)
Insert the stick and boot up from BIOs, f2 on my machine
Select “Try Zorin” and connect to the internet
Select “Install” and “Something Else”
Select /dev/sdb, the solid state drive, and delete its contents
Create a 512 Mb, FAT 32 partition for UEFI, (is this in a drop down menu?)
Create a 2 Gb swap file, Ext4
Use the remaining space on the drive to install Zorin, Ext2, (or Ext4???)
Close out of Gparted
Done

Another question… being only Zorin will be on the SSD drive, do I need TRIM?
The HHD drive, /dev/sda will remain one partition, as it is now, so I assume I don’t need to touch it.

How’s that sound? Am I set to go?
Katie
 

dos2unix

Well-Known Member
The boot/efi can be any size you want between 32MB and 200MB. If you make it 512MB
300 MB of it will not be seen by the UEFI. In fact, after using /boot/efi for the last 5 years.
I've never seen it even use 32MB.

The 2GB swap file should NOT be ext4. Swap has it's own filesystem type (swap)

For the primary drive, always use ext4 or xfs. (I can't believe ext2 is still even an option).
 

wizardfromoz

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gold Supporter
Just playing "catch up" here, and it might be a good idea for @kay-dee to suspend operations in installing Zorin, as I have posted here.

Whether Zorin or other (I am a Zorin user since Zorin OS 9), I have plenty of input that may help the dual drive setup, but I will get back asap.

G'day and welcome to linux.org @kay-dee :)

Note that it is Vrai, not Vria. You can preface a userid with @ such as @Vrai , and after the first few characters get an autocomplete or choices.

This also has the effect of "pinging" the person, who receives an alert that they have had their name mentioned in vain :D (I get a lot of that)

When you get time, perhaps swing through Member Introductions and tell us a little of the kay-dee story - meet a few of the Gang while you are there. Is DR Dominican Republic, and you are a Boatie? Interesting.

Cheers for now

Chris Turner
wizardfromoz

 

Alexzee

Well-Known Member
As dos2unix said: swap should not be an ext4 partition.

Other than that yes, you are good to go.:)
 

wizardfromoz

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gold Supporter
Do see the Thread I have started in Security, before you go anywhere, it has Rob's approval.

Swap is totally unnecessary in kay-dee's circumstances, with whatever Distro she chooses.



SCREENSHOT 1 - WIZARD'S ZORIN, ON SWAP (16 GB RAM)

Zorin uses Zswap to start with, has done since Zorin OS 12 or before.

If you wnt to read about Zswap read from kernel.org or Wikipedia

https://www.kernel.org/doc/html/latest/vm/zswap.html

...and this is from the great man himself, Linus Torvalds, at his Github presence - coding, beyond most paygrades, including mine :)

https://github.com/torvalds/linux/blob/master/mm/zswap.c

Zswap has been around since kernel v 3.11 and we are in the 5's now.

Further, note this excerpt from Ubuntu 18.04's (Bionic Beaver) release 2 1/2 years ago or more:

Other base system changes since 16.04 LTS

  • The gpg binary is provided by gnupg2
  • For new installs, a swap file will be used by default instead of a swap partition.
  • Python 2 is no longer installed by default. Python 3 has been updated to 3.6. This is the last LTS release to include Python 2 in main.
  • The installer no longer offers the encrypted home option using ecryptfs-utils. It is recommended to use full-disk encryption instead for this release. (1756840)
  • OpenSSH now refuses to use RSA keys smaller than 1024 bits. ssh-keygen -l -f /path/to/key.pub can report the length of a key.
So with Screenshot 1 you can see Zorin have utilised 2 swap/swap-like factors - Zswap is best for low-spec computers, to enhance the Swap.

The swapfile generated on my rig is about 1 GB, and it is not used.

So I'll repeat

Swap is totally unnecessary in kay-dee's circumstances, with whatever Distro she chooses.

Cheers

Wizard
 

dos2unix

Well-Known Member
I agree a swap partition isn't always needed. ...but.. (there's always a but)
IF you are going to use a swap partition... "if"... it needs to be formatted as a swap partition.

Note: If you are installing a redHat/CentOS/Oracle/SuSE/Fedora distro... the installer will balk
if you don't have a swap partition. You can over-ride this and do it anyway if you want to.

I have one system that has 128GB RAM, and it does use the swap on occasion.
On low spec computers the "swap file" may be a better option. On high spec computers,
I personally would highly recommend it. Swap files have to do a double fetch for inodes , swap partitions do not, so they are slightly faster. (maybe only 1 one/thousandth of a second, but hey.. )
 


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