Saturday, September 26, 2009

Windows 7 vs Fedora Core 11, and Linux in general

This year, my father also wanted to upgrade his computer, as did my mother. I had a shop build one with the exact same parts. I imaged my mother's computer drive with Acronis, and imaged it back to my father's computer. So far so good. But I had installed Windows 7 with its default setting, which creates two partitions - a "recovery partition", which was about 100 MB, and a regular Windows 7 NTFS partition, which was about 931 GB.

My father has been a Linux user for a very long time, and only desired Windows for very occasional use. In the past, it was fairly easy to dual-boot Windows & Linux. Not so this time.

First, I had to shrink the Windows NTFS partition using the "shrink" tool. But this didn't work. There were a variety of unmovable system files towards the end apparently. Even after defragmenting the drive, the shrink feature of the Windows disk manager could only reduce the drive by a measly 300 MB ! The solution was very complicated : I erased all the partitions, reinstalled Windows 7 with a small partitions, and then re-restored my mother's computers into the small partition from my backup drive using Acronis True Image 2009. Now, I had a working Windows 7 installation, and some free unpartitioned space.

The next 3 days were spent trying to install various versions of Linux, mostly Fedora Core 11 64 bits, as well as Ubuntu 8.x. This was always unsuccessful. Typically, the Fedora installation program just crashed with exceptions. Just hours before I was supposed to leave, I got the idea to delete the 100 MB Windows 7 recovery partition. I then restored its content from the Acronis backup onto the large Windows partition, and booted with the DFSEE tool to make the Windows 7 partition active. But Windows 7 still didn't boot correctly. I then booted the Windows 7 DVD and used the recovery option. Amazingly, that worked. I now had a single 212 GB NTFS Windows 7 partition that was booting. After that, the Fedora Core 11 installation proceeded like a breeze.

Moral of the story : if you want to dual-boot Windows 7 and Linux - do not let the Windows 7 installer create the recovery partition when you get prompted to let Windows create additional partitions. Just say no !


  1. Cool, thanks man I tried to do this just two days ago and i had the same problem. I did not really want windows 7, i hate it to be honest, but my mom wants it so end of story. I now can boot windows 7, or Fedora 11. Thanks for posting this you saved me a lot of hassle.

  2. I know this is random, but you seem to know your stuff. Anyway, do u like windows 7, or fedora 11 better? (I love Fedora 11, and i hate windows 7 for a # of reasons. Anyway just reply thanks!!!)

  3. I know i love fedora 11 a hell of a lot better. Go Fedora!!!!

    (Navy Seals rock)

  4. I can't say that I really like either one. I grew up using OS/2 at home, which I used from 1992 until 2007. But I have been exposed to a variety of operating systems at work as a developer.

    I can't say that I like Linux much - the development philosophy and the lack of binary compatibility doesn't sit well with me.
    Microsoft at least tries to do the right thing in the binary compatibility area, though they don't always succeed. But I have never agreed with their predatory attitute. Neverthless, I'm using mainly Vista and Win7 at home at the moment, with a hint of Opensolaris as well.

  5. i think ubuntu and fedora are really good OSs and they are no longer difficult to use but they lack apps and games. Windows on the other hand has kazillion of apps and games.

  6. OK ubuntu has a lot more how-tos, documentations and help available on the web compared to fedora. And ubuntu is quite new compared to Redhat's fedora earlier known as Redhat Linux. So i believe ubuntu is doing better than fedora.