D.4 Using the YaST Expert Partitioner

With the Expert Partitioner dialog in YaST, you can manually modify the partitioning of your hard disk. Partitions can be added, deleted, or edited.

Figure D-1 YaST Partitioner in Expert Mode

All existing or suggested partitions on all connected hard disks are displayed in the list. Entire hard disks are listed as devices without numbers, such as /dev/hda or /dev/sda. Partitions are listed as parts of these devices, such as /dev/hda1 or /dev/sda1. The size, type, file system, and mount point of the hard disks and their partitions are also displayed. The mount point describes where the partition is mounted in the Linux file system tree.

Any free hard disk space is also listed and automatically selected. To provide more disk space to Linux, free the needed space starting from the bottom toward the top of the list (starting from the last partition of a hard disk toward the first).

D.4.1 Creating a Partition

  1. Click Create in the Expert Partitioner dialog.

  2. (Conditional) If several hard disks are connected and a selection dialog appears, select the hard disk for the new partition.

  3. Specify the partition type (primary or extended).

    You can create up to four primary partitions or up to three primary partitions and one extended partition. Within the extended partition, you can create several logical partitions (see Partition Types).

  4. Select the file system you want to use to format the partition and a mount point, if necessary.

    YaST suggests a mount point for each partition created. The parameters are described in Partitioning Parameters.

  5. Click OK to apply your changes.

    The new partition is now listed in the partition table.

  6. Click Next to adopt the current values and return to the suggestion screen.

D.4.2 Partitioning Parameters

If you create a new partition or modify an existing partition, various parameters can be set in the partitioning tool. For new partitions, suitable parameters are set by YaST and usually do not require any modification. To perform manual settings, use the following procedure.

  1. Select a partition, then click Edit.

  2. Set the following parameters:



    File System ID

    Even if you do not want to format the partition at this stage, assign it a file system ID to ensure that the partition is registered correctly. Possible values include Linux, Linux swap, Linux LVM, or Linux RAID.

    File System

    To format the partition immediately within the scope of the installation, specify one of the following file systems for the partition: Swap, Ext2, Ext3, ReiserFS, or JFS.

    File System Options

    Sets various parameters for the selected file system.

    Encrypt File System

    If you activate encryption, writes all data to the hard disk in an encrypted format.

    fstab Options

    Specifies various parameters for the administration file of the file systems (/etc/fstab).

    Mount Point

    Specifies the directory where the partition should be mounted in the file system tree. Various YaST suggestions can be expanded in the respective entry field. If you accept these suggestions, the default file system structure is implemented. You can also specify any other names.

  3. Click Next to activate the partition.

If you partition manually, create a swap partition. The swap partition is used to free the main memory of data that is not used at the present moment. This keeps the main memory free for the most frequently used important data.

D.4.3 Resizing a Windows Partition

If a hard disk containing a Windows FAT or NTFS partition was selected as the installation target, YaST offers to delete or shrink this partition. This way, you can install Novell Linux Desktop even if there is currently not enough space on the hard disk. This functionality is especially useful if the selected hard disk contains only one Windows partition that covers the entire hard disk. This is sometimes the case on computers where Windows comes preinstalled.

If YaST sees that there is not enough space on the selected hard disk, but that space could be made available by deleting or shrinking a Windows partition, it presents a dialog where you can choose one of these two options.

If you select Delete Windows Completely, the Windows partition is marked for deletion and the space is used for the installation of Novell Linux Desktop.

WARNING:If you delete Windows, all data will be lost beyond recovery as soon as the formatting starts.

To shrink the Windows partition, interrupt the installation and boot Windows to prepare the partition from there. Although this step is not strictly required for FAT partitions, it speeds up the resizing process and also makes it safer. These steps are vital for NTFS partitions.

Table D-3 Steps for NTFS Partitions

File System

Steps to Perform


In Windows, first run scandisk to make sure the FAT partition is free of lost file fragments and crosslinks. Then run defrag to move files to the beginning of the partition. This accelerates the resizing procedure in Linux.

If you have optimized virtual memory settings for Windows in such a way that a contiguous swap file is used with the same initial (minimum) and maximum size limit, consider disenabling these Windows optimizations for the time being and re-enabling them after the resizing has been completed. With these Windows settings, the resizing might split the swap file into many small parts scattered all over the FAT partition. Also, the entire swap file would need to be moved during the resizing, which makes the process rather slow.


In Windows, run scandisk and defrag to move the files to the beginning of the hard disk. In contrast to the FAT file system, you must perform these steps or the NTFS partition cannot be resized.

NOTE:If you operate your system with a permanent swap file on an NTFS file system, this file might be located at the end of the hard disk and remain there despite defrag, possibly making it impossible to shrink the partition sufficiently. In this case, temporarily deactivate the swap file (the virtual memory in Windows). After the partition has been resized, reconfigure the virtual memory.

After these preparations, return to the Linux partitioning setup and select Shrink Windows Partition. After a quick check of the partition, YaST opens a dialog with a suggestion for resizing the Windows partition.The first bar graph shows how much disk space is currently occupied by Windows and how much space is still available. The second bar graph shows how the space would be distributed after the resizing, according to YaST’s current proposal.

Accept the proposed settings or use the slider to change the partition sizing (within certain limits). If you click Next, the settings are stored and you are returned to the previous dialog. The actual resizing takes place later, before the hard disk is formatted.

By default, Windows NT*, 2000, and XP use the NTFS file system. Unlike FAT file systems, NTFS file systems can be read (but not edited) from Linux. In other words, you can read your Windows files from Linux, but you cannot edit them. If you want write access to your Windows data and do not need the NTFS file system, install Windows on a FAT32 file system. This way, you can have full access to your Windows data from Novell Linux Desktop.