The purpose of this post is document my experiences with installing
SuSE 8.1 on a Dell laptop. Mostly I have tried to document info I
found on my own and I wasn't able to find elsewhere. If someone wants
to add this info to their FAQ, please feel free.
As shipped, P4 1.8GHz, 512RAM, 40GB HDD (37GB formatted)
As shipped, the Dell Utilities are on partition 1, hda1.
As shipped, the rest of the disk is NTFS for WinXP, hda2.
Issue: Don't hook WinXP pro to your LAN until it is configured, it
reeked havac on our net. The SonicWall had to be rebooted and
reconfigured, and our other RedHat Linux LPD print queues to a Sun
Server stopped working for unknown reasons. Thanks Bill.
Issue: Because Dell uses a partition for its utilities, it
was not possible to use BootMagic for the loader. This is because
there can only be 4 primary partitions on a disk and to switch formats
requires a primary partition, i.e. from Dell(FAT), Linux(extended),
WinXP(NTFS), Linux Home(extended). BootMagic requires a FAT.
Couple this with the fact that you want the active boot partition to
be below the 1024 disk cylinder (8GB mark). Luckily there is GRUB.
Issue: When Partition Magic installs space for Linux, it hides the
WinXP partition, assuming you will use BootMagic as the bootloader.
When you use GRUB, because you have to due to the 4 primary partition
limit, it only sees the Linux OS. I had to use the PM resue floppies
to unhide the WinXP partition (and to set the WinXP back to active
when I messed things up and needed to use PM to adjust the partitions).
Issue: I couldn't reinstall BootMagic even if I wanted to use it. I
deactivated BM and deleted its partition without uninstalling it. The
Registry somehow still sees BootMagic as being installed. So I
removed all BootMagic entries from the Registry. Now BM says the
configuration is corrupt and won't install. This may be a copy
protection "feature" and I don't see a way to fix it.
Issue: At one point, the Linux partition was active but didn't have
and OS. I had to boot the PM CDROM, note it is drive y: and run
chkdsk /f (located on the rescue floppy which is b: since a: is
the bootable part of the CDROM) to fix the MBR when no OS was found.
I could not access the hard disk as c: or anything else. This was
early in the process and I didn't use the rescue floppies correctly.
Somehow, I didn't investigate further, it reset MBR to boot WinXP.
Issue: On SuSE 8.1 install from DVD, the main graphical install
screen under software shows Error: No Proposal. Later I discovered
that if I hit Abort Installation, and use the older blue screen YAST
arrow-toggle menu installation, behavior is different. Dialog box for
a usb-storage driver asks me to confirm its installation. I say yes,
the minimum software list is shown and things work fine from there on.
And remember to install GRUB boot loader to the partition with /boot
and not the Master Boot Record (MBR). This is why the partition with
/boot needs to be active. SuSE needs to put this info in their SKD.
Install PM and create your rescue floppies.
Use PM to resize NFTS down to some percent of the whole disk, and
leave an unallocated section inbetween the Dell and NTFS part. I left
6 GB space (before cylinder 1024 8GB mark) to put /, /boot, and swap.
This leaves some portion of the NTFS below the 8GB mark, just
in case I have to boot WinXP without GRUB by setting the NTFS partition
active. The last portion of the disk, 10GB, is for /home. Have PM
create another partition for an OS, keep in mind the issues above.
Install Linux. Unhide partition. Set up GRUB.
GRUB is the boot loader and will load any OS on any unhidden partition.
In /boot/Grub/menu.lst, add the following:
title Windows XP
"This tells GRUB to boot WinXP when selected and use it's bootloader,
and boot from (hd0,1) (basically the second partition on the first
hard drive)." Reference this from:
linux-dell-laptops FAQ http://www.whacked.net/ldl/faq
Note that even though PM puts Linux ext2 inbetween the Dell (hda1)
and NTFS (hda2) partitions, it is referred to as the 3rd partition
(hda3). The last partition is setup as a logical volume from hda4.
Note, SuSE reformats the partitions created by Partition Magic and
so PM only sees the partition ID. I don't dare adjust partitions.