The biggest challenge for a programmer or user to migrate from Windows Environment to Linux is the installation process. And, in the installation process the main obstacle is Partitioning the hard disk. Basically in the Windows, you just create the C Drive and it will install the whole operating system there. Through in the recent versions of Ubuntu or RedHat Distros are also doing the installation process almost automatically, but to become an Linux Engineer you will need to know the manual process also.

The main aim of this How To article is to gather all those scenarios where you will face while installation of linux and how will you tackle the situation the manual installation process. The most tutorials in the internet you will find The existing guides (at least those I found here) cover only automatic part and leave untouched the manual part (or extremely short and contain no pictures to follow).

This article like to cover such situations:

  • The Whole hard disk is blank during installation
  • If your disk contains Windows installed
  • If your disk contains other systems:
  • If it is GPT, RAID or LVM
  • If you have a OEM-preinstalled copy of Windows 8 or Windows 10.

The Whole hard disk is blank during installation


  1. Boot into Ubuntu Installation media. This can be either CD or USB stick.
  2. The installation. Proceed to Step 4 and choose “Something Else”.

3. You can now see your disk as /dev/sda or /dev/mapper/pdc_* (RAID case, * means that your letters are different from ours).

4. Click “New Partition Table…” You will see that you have free space on your disk

  1. (Recommended) Create partition for swap. Swap is the partition for keeping unneeded memory pages, like Windows swap. Also it can be used for hibernation.
  • Select free space and click +
  • Set parameters like on the picture

  1. Notice that you should set swap size more than you have physical memory in order to use hibernation. Also, you can place it in the end of disk, but thus it will be slow.
  2. Create partition for /(root fs). This is the filesystem that contains your kernel, boot files, system files, command-line utilities, libraries, system-wide configuration files and logs.
  • Select free space and click +
  • Set parameters like on the picture.  20 GiB should be enough for the Root partition.

8. Create partition for /home. This is the filesystem for your user’s files: documents, images, music and videos. It’s much more like Users folder in Windows.

  1. You can do this just like in step 5 and even choose other fs type (though I recommend use ext4 instead of reiserfs. Simply, the first is much more flexible and the second is quicker)
  2. (Optional) Create separate partitions for /boot, /tmpand /var. Set their size according to your needs:
  • /bootshould be 100 – 500 MiB
  • /varand /tmp should be > 5 GiB
  1. If you doubt about which device for boot loader installation to choose, leave it default. It would be set by installer. But sometimes it does mistakes. Let me guide you how to deal with it:
  • If you use only one hard disk, select or leave /dev/sda
  • If you use more than one hard disk with no RAID, select the one from which your system does boot. You can also select other disk and set BIOS to boot from it.
  • If you have RAID from which your system starts, it will be /dev/mapper/…

Be sure that you select entire disk, not a single partition.

  1. After all, you should see your disk like this as below :

“it is recommended to place root partition onto primary partition on MBR scheme disks. However, it belongs to personal taste. Sometimes it’s even better to put /boot directory on primary and leave root on logical partition.”

That’s all! You can now click Install Now and proceed to the installation.

If your hard disk contains Windows installed

  1. Boot from Ubuntu Installation media.
  2. Unmount any mounted drives if they exist.
  3. Proceed to Step 4. Choose “Something else” and click Continue.

4. Free some space for Ubuntu:

  1. Select the Windows drive (not the loader!). It should be the biggest drive in the map.
  2. Click Change… button. Reduce Windows’ partition to 60% of it’s size. Notice that you should remain some free space on it (8 – 20 GiB should be enough)

7.If you want, you can delete some partitions. This is done by clicking –Do not delete Windows partition!

  1. And ~40 GiB should be kept for Ubuntu. Click OK and Continue to write changes on disk.
  2. Now your partition table should look like this:

  1. Now, you can proceed with rest of steps like blank installation. Notice that swap will be placed on logical partition. This doesn’t matter, in any case it will work perfect.

Note : I have experienced difficulties after shrinking a Windows partition using tools on the Linux side. It may be safer to shrink the Windows partition using Windows tools before beginning the install.

If you have Logical Disk Manager (LDM) Partition, the partition size shows as “unknown” and you can’t resize it. The solution is to do it from inside Windows itself first.

If you have OEM-preinstalled copy of Windows 8 or Windows 10

Computers with OEM installs of Windows usually come with more than 1 or 2 partitions. Starting with Windows 8 the partition table should be GPT (Global Partition Table), allowing for more than 4 primary partitions.

  1. Resizing the Windows partition
    • There are at least 2 ways doing this
      • Resizing from Ubuntu live media : You can run GParted or use only the manual partitioning menu of the installer.
      • Resizing from within Windows : Resize the Windows partition with Disk Management(run msc).

Select your Windows partition and choose “Shrink Volume…” from the context menu.

This will usually shrink to the minimum possible, you may want to adjust the value to leave more space for Windows.

  • Optionally disablefast startup and probably disable hibernation, if it is activated and you intend to access the Windows partition with Ubuntu. Run cpl and navigate to Power Options > System Settings through “Choose what the power button does”.

Manually setting up the partition layout for Ubuntu

Attention! No, you don’t want to erase the entire disk and Windows along with it. Choose the Something elseoption if you see this screen. (Something else may be the most difficult option to understand, but considering existing bugs you know what you will get.)

  • You will get to the manual partitioning menu, where you should at least create a root partition (/) and a swap partition.

  • Option 1: add only a root partition

  • Option 2: add a root partition

  • Option 3 : Add a Home partition

  • finally add the swap partition:

Note that there usually is an existing EFI System Partition (short ESP, efi in the screenshot), that the installer will automatically detect and mount to install EFI loaders and programs.




If you have md RAID

This article will not cover how to create mdadm arrays here. This is out of scope. However, there is one major problem: Ubiquity installer doesn’t account for the arrays created in the live session, so you’ll probably get unbootable system after installation on such array.

  1. Create the setup like below:

<strong>$ sudo fdisk -l</strong>

  • 1
    Disk /dev/sda: 160.0 GB, 160041885696 bytes
  • 1
    Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
  • 1
    /dev/sda1 2048   156299263    78148608   83  Linux
  • 1
    /dev/sda2 156299264   311556095    77628416    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
  • 1
    /dev/sda3 *   311556096   312580095      512000   83  Linux
  • 1
    Disk /dev/sdb: 80.0 GB, 80026361856 bytes
    Device Boot Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
    /dev/sdb1 2048 156301311    78149632   83  Linux
  1. As you can guess, I created /dev/md0 mdadm array from /dev/sda1 and /dev/sdb1. It’s empty now. Let’s install something on it.
  1. Create partitions on /dev/md0 as you like:

Important: Install /boot onto one of partition outside the array because GRUB doesn’t support mdadm. In my case, it’s /dev/sda3. If you want more quick booting of your system, it should be placed at the beginning of the disk.

  1. Install Ubuntu. Click Continue testing. Or reboot and see initramfs prompt
  2. Now, you have to chrootinto installed system and install mdadm:
  3. sudo mount /dev/md0p6 /mnt
  4. sudo mount /dev/md0p5 /mnt/home
  5. sudo mount /dev/sda3 /mnt/boot
  6. for d in /dev /proc /sys /run; do sudo mount –bind $d /mnd$d; done
  7. chroot /mnt
  8. apt-get install mdadm

Installing mdadm should fix booting problem.


In this article, we have looked into the scenarios and how to manually install and setup the Linux partition. You have seen the reference as per the Ubuntu System. The steps are almost same for the other linux distros like CentOS, Redhat, or other Debian based distros.


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