Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (770 mails)

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Re: [opensuse] multi-boot with XP, Win7, SuSE 12.1 and dealing with EFI
On 8/23/2012 12:56 PM, Damon Register wrote:
Up until this point, I know how to install SuSE along with older versions
of Windows such as NT4 or XP. Now I am trying to setup a new HP PC with
XP, Win7 and SuSE 12.1. When I get to the SuSE part, I am running into
trouble with the partition setup. I started out with using gparted to
create a primary partion for Win7, XP and a small boot partition for SuSE.
For the remainder of the drive I created an extended partition where I
have the linux swap and xfs partition for SuSE to use as /

Now suddenly I am thrown into a new world that I know very little about.
The SuSE install squawked about an efi problem with the boot partition
I made (it said it had to be a FAT). I changed it to FAT and now I get
a squawk about a GPT label.

I have been trying to do some reading on this but am having trouble getting
the big picture of efi and gpt and what they mean to my situation. I think
that if I understood it well enough, I could probably figure out what to
do myself. Is there anyone who understand this well enough to help
me understand this? I have XP32, Win7 64 and SuSE 12.1 64.

Well, a FAT is just a part of a filesystem, not a partition table, while GPT is a partition table.

You could put a dos filesystem, which includes a fat, inside of a gpt partition, just as easily as an mbr partition (technically called an msdos disklabel, aka the regular old 4 primary partitions)

Another confusing element is it's possible to have both mbr and gpt on the same disk at the same time, because the two schemes reside in different physical places on the disk. Only one can actually be valid at a time, but if you create a gpt and then create a mbr without actually erasing the gpt, many things will still see the gpt data and think you have a broken gpt instead of a good mbr and some other data that is to be ignored.

Another confusing element is calling the partition scheme mbr, when mbr also means just the tiny boot record at the beginning, which can be overwritten any time by other boot loaders of your choice and doesn't care whether you have mbr or gpt partition tables. And it's other name, msdos disklabel, is just as bad because it's not just a dos thing for dos filesystems.

So anyways, if you had a gpt and then wanted to switch to using mbr, you can't just create the mbr, you have to also erase the gpt to prevent various things from getting confused. The gpt lives at both ends of the disk, beginning and end. Wikipedia gpt to see the diagram. mbr is only at the beginning.

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