More Workstation Tweaking

This exercise is reminding me of things I used to know. One that I ran into was that you can only have four primary partitions on a single physical disk. This meant that the way I had originally installed Xubuntu, using manually sized root and swap partitions, took up two primary partitions and kept me from using the big chunk of disk I had left free for formatting with FAT32.

So my approach on fixing this was direct, not elegant. Given that I hadn’t been able to resize the FreeBSD partition in the original Ghost session, I booted from a FreeBSD 6.2 install CD, deleted all the partitions except the Windows one, then setup a 50GB partition for FreeBSD, a 50GB partition for Linux, and the remaining 334GB with a Linux identifier. I installed the X-Developer distribution package for FreeBSD, then rebooted with the Xubuntu live CD. I installed QTPartEd and used that to nuke the 50GB Linux partition. Then I could run the Xubuntu install and get the convenient option of using the largest block of free space on my drive. Trying to install with the partition identified already as Linux only gave me a manual partition option, which didn’t seem to allow for setting up the swap partition as a logical partition. With Xubuntu installed, I also had a working Grub boot loader again, and could now boot back into Windows again.

That still left me with the problem of getting my newly accessible hard disk space formatted in FAT32. The folks at Microsoft did not give Windows XP the tools to format any partition larger than 32GB in FAT32; they want you to use NTFS. There are certain advantages to the NTFS system, or at least I’ve been told that over and over. Unfortunately, the support for NTFS in other operating systems is still short of the “rock-solid” you would like for something that gets near data you might cherish. Therefore, FAT32 as the shared data storage format of choice. I found a utility online called fat32format. This is a small command-line utility, and the web page linked has a very good discussion of its use. Following the directions there, I set the partition up in the Windows Disk Management utility, but with “leave it unformatted” as my option. Following that with “fat32format e:” gave me the formatted disk I was after in just a couple of seconds.

Right now, I’m copying off a batch of photos from a USB hard disk to the local disk, figuring that my ultimate in speed of processing will be with them there.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.