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Dell Media Direct and Linux

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Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2014, 09:26:50 PM »
 

N4RPS

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Hello!

Sure. I ran Linux for a long time off 16GB SD cards before I actually started carving up Windows hard drives to accommodate it. Performance takes a small hit, but it's a LOT better than trying to run 'em from Live CDs.

I see your point about Dell Media Direct. Most likely, it will no longer work if you change the partitioning structure of your hard drive in any way...

73 DE N4RPS
Rob


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Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2014, 10:45:15 AM »
 

br1anstorm

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Just thought I'd post a final (?) update on this thread.

My original question was how to reconcile the installation of Linux with the presence on my laptop's hard drive not only of Windows XP but also of this Dell-specific Media Direct partition.

The discussion has been brilliant, because it has led me to realise that dual-booting isn't the only option.  Not only has it been possible to run Live sessions from CD/DVD and from USB stick, but gold_finger's comments and advice about  actually installing a Linux OS on to a USB stick have persuaded me to go down that route first. 

I plan to put either Lite or LXLE (Lubuntu) on to one 32GB USB stick - to run on my older laptop;  and Zorin on to another USB stick to run on my regular laptop.

I'm still hanging on to Zorin because - as Rob (N4RPS) observed - it is possible to install the Broadcom wifi drivers into Zorin and in fact I have done so with the help of the good people on the Zorin OS forum.

I will almost certainly have more questions about the actual process of installing on to a USB stick (discussed above with gold-finger).  But it seems to make sense to pursue any further questions about that by starting a separate thread - so that's what I'll do when the time comes. 

Meanwhile, huge thanks to those who have been so generous with time and advice in responding on this thread.  I think I like this new Linux world!
 

Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2014, 09:53:25 PM »
 

N4RPS

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Hello!

If there an Ubuntu-based distro you REALLY LIKE, don't let not having Broadcom support stop you. It's not difficult at all to add Broadcom support if you can use a wired connection, or an adapter natively supported in the kernel, to fetch the Broadcom drivers from the repostories.

I've posted this elsewhere on here, but Broadcom support can't be included on the Live CD because the firmware is different for each model of Broadcom adapter, and Broadcom's drivers are proprietary. Despite this, some distros include the proprietary code anyway, and Broadcom just hasn't called them on it yet...

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Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2014, 08:35:31 PM »
 

gold_finger

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Just one question of detail (I'm still on the learning curve...).  I think I understand the advice on not creating both a root and a home partition as well as a swap one on a USB stick, partly because of space-constraints.  But that aside, what is the reasoning for having a root and a home separately?  Is that equivalent to having a "system" partition (for the OS) and a "data" partition (for your files/documents) in Windows-speak - or is it more complicated than that?

Yes, the separate root and home partitions is along same lines as having a "system" and "data" partition in Windows.  In Linux, your home directory is normally where all of your data files end up (Documents, Music, Pictures, etc.).  Also in that directory are the user configuration files for various software packages ("programs" in Windows speak) that you use.

Main advantage to having the data and config files separated from root is that it makes re-installations and upgrades easier.  If, for example, your system gets messed up and you can't figure out how to fix it, you can simply re-install the system and be back up and running within 30-45 minutes.  Essentially you're just assigning the same mount points to each partition, but telling the installer to only re-format the root partition.  Everything on the /home partition remains untouched and ready to use again.

My reasons for recommending just a root and swap partition:

1.  Unless you're using something larger than 16GB, it's just easier to not have to guess at a sufficient size for root.  Too big and you lose data saving space.  Too small and you may run out of room for critical system files.  With a single root partition that also contains /home you don't need to worry about that -- the system will use what it needs and rest will be available for storage until you fill the whole thing up.

2.  It's easier for newcomers and you're likely going to just use the USB for a relatively short period of time.  You'll probably install to the hard drive once you feel more comfortable with Linux and that would be a better time to consider other partitioning options.

3.  A whole lot of people (new and experienced) just go with a root and swap partition.  As long as you keep backup copies (as you should under any scenario) of your important files, it's really not that big of a deal to just copy them back on to an installation vs. having them separated on a /home partition.  (I happen to prefer keeping things separated, but it is by no means a requirement to do so.)


Maybe it's subjective, but I think the responses are quicker from the USB flash drive than from the CD/DVD drive spinning up and down.

It's not your imagination.  A live USB is definitely faster than a live DVD.  The performance of the "live" USB will be very similar to the performance of a fully installed system to the USB -- there won't be as noticeable a difference between the two.  A hard drive installation will be noticeably faster than the USB.


I'm still trying out my shortlist of Linux OS distros.  Linux Lite heads the list because it's fairly "light", so good for slightly older laptops like mine.  The other one I have been trying out is Zorin.  But I found that neither worked on my older (Dell Inspiron 8600) laptop whose CPU does not have "pae".  So the third one on test is LXLE (a Lubuntu variant) which works without needing "pae".

Here are four others that I believe will work and that you may want to try on that old Dell:

Mint 13 Xfce (32-bit)  (If you decide to install this one to the old Dell, read this first -- Mint 13 Specific Install Tips.)

Zorin OS Lite 6.2 (32-bit)

Peppermint OS (32-bit)

Lastly, if all of the above are too sluggish, try this:  AntiX.


EDIT:  Just saw your other post about PAE, which I forgot you had going at the same time as this one.  If you're happy with LXLE and don't want to bother with testing other distros I just listed, that's fine.  Don't feel obligated to do so.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2014, 08:41:08 PM by gold_finger »
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Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2014, 06:08:04 PM »
 

br1anstorm

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That advice is - to coin a phrase -  pure gold.  So clear and precise that even a foolish newcomer like me can follow it!

Just one question of detail (I'm still on the learning curve...).  I think I understand the advice on not creating both a root and a home partition as well as a swap one on a USB stick, partly because of space-constraints.  But that aside, what is the reasoning for having a root and a home separately?  Is that equivalent to having a "system" partition (for the OS) and a "data" partition (for your files/documents) in Windows-speak - or is it more complicated than that?

Thus far I have shifted from running Live sessions from CD/DVD to running (some) Live sessions from a USB stick on to which I copied the .iso image.  Maybe it's subjective, but I think the responses are quicker from the USB flash drive than from the CD/DVD drive spinning up and down.  In terms of BIOS and boot options, both my Dell laptops on startup offer F2 to get into the BIOS Settings for a 'permanent' change to boot order, or F12 for the Boot Menu to choose each time where to boot from.

I'm still trying out my shortlist of Linux OS distros.  Linux Lite heads the list because it's fairly "light", so good for slightly older laptops like mine.  The other one I have been trying out is Zorin.  But I found that neither worked on my older (Dell Inspiron 8600) laptop whose CPU does not have "pae".  So the third one on test is LXLE (a Lubuntu variant) which works without needing "pae".

Have just found that while Lite and LXLE play happily with both wired and wireless connections, Zorin won't connect wirelessly because it doesn't like the Broadcom wireless device, or its driver.  So I may - with some regret - have to abandon Zorin.  Looks like I may end up running Lite on my main laptop from a USB stick, and LXLE on my old one.

Onward we go!
 

Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2014, 09:58:25 PM »
 

gold_finger

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I have only just discovered, for example, that it is possible to run some Linux OSs from a USB stick (=pendrive/thumbdrive), and that this supposedly runs almost as quick as installing it as a dual boot on the C drive, and certainly a lot quicker than a LiveCD session from a CD.  As I have two laptops, this has a certain appeal - and also means I don't have to rush into partitioning, installing and dual booting on either machine's hard drive.   So I may go down the USB road first.   On that subject, I read your note in this thread https://www.linuxliteos.com/forums/index.php?topic=210.0.  So I may want to check back on that one specific point you mention about taking care over where exactly to put the bootloader of the Linux OS that is on the USB stick.

Doing a real installation to a USB stick is a not a bad idea.  It will give you experience doing the installation and also allow you to practice partitioning without affecting the internal hard drive.  Just boot with a live DVD/USB, plug in the USB you want to install to, open GParted, pick the USB drive from the drop-down box in upper right of GParted window.  GParted will usually open pointed at the first internal drive.  As long as you change that and pick the USB drive you'll be fine and can practice making partitions on the USB.

Installing to USB will follow same basic steps as installing to hard drive.  The safest way to install to the USB is to choose the "Something else" option when you get to the "Installation Type" page.  That will allow you to manually pick where to direct the installation.  You will want to do that in the case of a USB installation to make sure everything goes where you want it -- especially the boot loader.  If you don't pick that "Something else" option, it is a virtual certainty that the boot loader will be installed to the first hard drive (replacing the Windows boot loader).

Partitions can be created while installing under the "Something else" option; or you can create them ahead of time with GParted.  If you create them ahead of time, you still use the "Something else" option.  Then you select the partitions you made, one at a time, click "Change" button, then assign mount points and file system types to them.  Typical installation will have a root partition (mount point = "/"; Ext4 file system) and a swap partition.  Depending on size of USB, you can experiment with other partition arrangements if you want -- like possibly having a separate home partition (mount point = "/home"; also Ext4 file system type).  For a USB, best to use one that is 16GB or larger -- though you could get away with an 8GB USB if you had to.  (* See additional note below.)

On that same partitioning page of the installer, near the bottom there will be a line asking you where to install the boot loader?  It will be pre-filled with /dev/sda, which is the internal hard drive.  You will want to change that to make sure it displays the drive designation for the USB instead.  When you pick that, make sure you pick the option for the drive itself and not a particular partition on the USB.  For example, if you have only one internal hard drive and one USB connected, the choices will show /dev/sda, /dev/sdb, and various similar entries like /dev/sda1, sda2, sdb1, etc.  You would want /dev/sdb in that case (with no number after sdb).

Once the USB installation is done, all you need to do is tell the computer to boot from the USB instead of the hard drive.  Do that by changing the boot option order in the BIOS settings menu; or by choosing the USB boot option from the Boot Menu if your computer has a special key to hit on startup for that.  Each manufacturer may have different keys for both -- you'll have to look up how yours operates.  I have a Toshiba laptop where hitting "F2" on power-up gets me into BIOS Settings and "F12" gets me into the Boot Menu.  Also have an old HP that uses completely different keys, but can't remember which off hand.

P.s.  Additional Note.
Would recommend you stick to just a root and swap partition for a USB installation.  If you do want to try adding a /home partition, then make sure to create a root partition that is at least 6-8GB in size.  Another thing I tend you recommend is that you don't go crazy with the size of the swap partition.  Normally that partition would be 1-2 times the size of how much RAM your computer has.  Just go with a 1GB swap partition on the USB stick, otherwise you'll end up with swap being almost as big as the other partitions on a USB and it probably won't get used much -- so it's just a waste of space.  When installing to a hard drive (with plenty of space on it), then feel free to do a standard size swap partition.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 10:08:18 PM by gold_finger »
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Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2014, 04:47:11 PM »
 

N4RPS

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Hello!

I ran a Lubuntu install solely from a 16 GB SD card for a while - with 14 GB root partition, 2 GB swap, and GRUB installed on the SD card. You could run LL or most any other Linux flavor that way, also.

If you use a class 10 SD card, the speed is somewhere between that of a LiveCD and a hard drive install...

73 DE N4RPS
Rob
« Last Edit: April 22, 2014, 02:52:36 AM by N4RPS »


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Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2014, 04:39:27 PM »
 

br1anstorm

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That's a relief, gold_finger....

I sort-of guessed you were looking at an image or screenshot of something other than my hard drive.  Glad the mystery is solved.

Thanks for those very clear guidance steps.  I'm off to read up on the GParted tutorial to make sure I understand what all that I am about to do, so things may go quiet for a litttle while.

PS:  As I delve into the new world of partitioning, dual booting and all that, I am finding it increasingly interesting. 
I have only just discovered, for example, that it is possible to run some Linux OSs from a USB stick (=pendrive/thumbdrive), and that this supposedly runs almost as quick as installing it as a dual boot on the C drive, and certainly a lot quicker than a LiveCD session from a CD.  As I have two laptops, this has a certain appeal - and also means I don't have to rush into partitioning, installing and dual booting on either machine's hard drive.   So I may go down the USB road first.   On that subject, I read your note in this thread https://www.linuxliteos.com/forums/index.php?topic=210.0.  So I may want to check back on that one specific point you mention about taking care over where exactly to put the bootloader of the Linux OS that is on the USB stick.
 

Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2014, 02:11:43 AM »
 

gold_finger

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Well, I downloaded your first attachment again to make sure I wasn't seeing things.

Turns out I happen to have an attachment from someone else that I had helped along the way also saved in my Downloads folder under a similar filename.  I didn't realize that before and had opened that one thinking it was yours.  My apologies for what surely was a very confusing post back to you as a result.  That wasn't your drive I ended up describing.  Duh!   :-[

Just so you know what I was looking at before, here it is:



Obviously, that's completely different than what you described which is why I was confused.

Now that I see your actual screenshot, it looks like a very simple fix to get dual booting with Linux Lite up and running.

1.  Follow preparations I outlined in first post under "While waiting for response back, to prepare for installation do the following".

2.  Boot Linux Lite DVD and open GParted  (Menu -> System -> Partition Drives).

3.  If you couldn't shrink the C: drive while in Windows, do it now with GParted.  (In GParted, it is partition "/dev/sda2".)  Shrink the partition by around 50GB for now.  (You can change things later on if you want, but that's plenty for now.)  Here's a tutorial on how to use GParted to familiarize yourself with using it:  http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/gparted.html.

IMPORTANT:  After shrinking the Windows partition, reboot the computer into Windows to let it adjust itself to the new size.  Then reboot with the Linux Lite DVD again.  You can finish the other GParted operations below, but don't start the LL installation until you've rebooted into Windows to let it make adjustments first.

4.  Still in GParted, delete the logical partition /dev/sda5.

5.  Then delete the extended partition /dev/sda3.  (Do this AFTER deleting sda5.)

6.  Hit the "Apply" button (the arrow button under the word "Help" along top of GParted interface) to execute all of the changes.  This may take a bit of time because of the shrinking operation.  (10 - 45 minutes maybe.)

7.  Now you'll have only 3 primary partitions left on the disk and empty, unpartitioned space for the Linux Lite installation.

8.  Close GParted.

(Reminder:  Reboot to Windows once after shrinking its partition if you haven't done so yet.)

9.  Start the LL installation and you should get a choice to install "Along side Windows" when you get to the "Installation Type" page.

10.  Choose install "Along side Windows" and the installer will automatically use the unpartitioned free space to create the LL partitions needed.  You'll end up with an extended partition containing two logical partitions -- one for root and another for swap.

11.  When install is done, shutdown, remove installation DVD and power back up into installation on the hard drive.  You should now be presented with options for booting either OS on startup.

That's it.


P.s.  I remembered how to post a pic to the forum.  Post the pic first to an imagebin site.  Then click the "insert image" button on the forum interface and post the link to it between the two image blocks -- eg.  [ img ] ...paste image link here... [ /img ].
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 02:20:33 AM by gold_finger »
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Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2014, 07:51:29 PM »
 

br1anstorm

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Oh dear....   if you are confused, gold_finger, what hope is there for me?

But I think I may be able to interpret some of the stuff I have posted up in the attachments. The GParted screenshot image surely shows my laptop's inbuilt hard drive ONLY - which is notionally 250GB total capacity, useable/visible space a bit less than that.  As I read it, the GParted screenshot even labels which partitions have DellUtility, Media Direct, and DellRestore.  It surely isn't showing a 500GB drive?  It doesn't help that some partitions are labelled in GB and some in MB.  But my Windows XP, and all my routine files, are in the large partition (227.26GB of which 74.14 is used).

I have done no partitioning of any kind on that inbuilt hard drive - it is as it came from the factory.  What are GPT partitions?  Patitions created by GParted?? 

I have no idea what EFI-mode and CSM/Legacy mode are or how to switch in or out of them!

I absolutely don't have any Linux (Mint or other) installed anywhere.  I was using the Linux Lite LiveCD (having booted into it from the CD) to access GParted and copy/paste/send the screenshots to this forum.

And no, I haven't posted anything in a Linux Mint forum, ever, and have never had a drive or boot problem with a 500GB drive!

Now..... as for my second post and attachment (the one from the terminal) it is true that I have two external hard drives connected to the USB sockets on my laptop. They are purely for storage.  One is a 320GB HDD formatted NTFS (out of the box) on which I store my photos.  The other is a 320GB HDD formatted FAT32 (also out of the box) on which I store my music.  So if the command you asked me to type into the terminal was designed to extract info on all my hard drives, that's what you got in the Word document in which I copied and pasted what showed up in the terminal screen.

Does that help to make more sense of what I sent you?
 

Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2014, 07:15:41 PM »
 

gold_finger

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Not sure what's going on.  You're two attachments are showing two different setups.  The one with the GParted screenshot is showing a 500GB HD with GPT partitions.  It looks like you've got Window installed in EFI-mode and a Linux distro (possibly Mint) installed in CSM/Legacy-mode on that drive.  It's also got two separate EFI System Partitions, which is rather strange.  Are you able to boot up Windows on that HD if computer is in EFI-mode?  If you switch mode to CSM/Legacy, can you then boot Mint?

The second attachment looks more like what you described in your first post.  There is /dev/sda, a 250GB HD with the partitions you described and two other HD's that are 320GB.  For this /dev/sda, can you boot into Windows on this one?  If so, go ahead and do that.  Then open Windows Disk Management and take another screenshot of the drive from there.  Post the screenshot at a pastebin site like this:  http://imagebin.ca/.  Then post the link produced for it back here for us to use to get to your pic.  (I don't remember how to post a pic directly here.)


P.s.  The first 500GB HD above sounds vaguely familiar to me.  Did you post a question about that on a different forum (possibly Mint's) and did I try helping you with that before?  If you're still trying to resolve that drive's boot problem (I'm guessing it's not working right), can you post a link to that forum post of yours to refresh my memory of what's been tried already?
« Last Edit: April 20, 2014, 07:23:49 PM by gold_finger »
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Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2014, 06:03:27 PM »
 

br1anstorm

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... and here is part 2, a copy-and-paste into a .docx of what came up in the "terminal" after I had entered that command.

[attachment deleted by admin]
 

Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2014, 05:36:31 PM »
 

br1anstorm

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Hello gold_finger, and thanks for taking the trouble to look at this.

I have followed the first sequence of steps so that you can see what GParted reveals about the hard drive on this Dell Inspiron 1520 laptop.

I think - and hope - the screenshot is attached.  I can't insert it as an image and I can't attach a .png to a post in this forum, so I have pasted it into a document and am trying to attach that!



[attachment deleted by admin]
« Last Edit: April 20, 2014, 05:54:04 PM by br1anstorm »
 

Re: Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2014, 07:11:50 PM »
 

gold_finger

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But (there seems always to be a but...) I have looked at the disk partitions on the laptop.  It seems already to have four partitions:  a 118MB FAT "EISA" (which I believe has something to do with Dell's Recovery/Restore);  the C drive of 227GB NTFS which is the system partition and is doubtless where Windows XP resides along with all my files; then an "Extended Partition" of 2.50GB FAT32 which has no drive letter but is labelled Media Direct and logical drive;  and finally another 3.00GB FAT32 partition labelled "unknown".

I've never heard of that "Media Direct" partition before, so I looked it up and found this description.  According to that site, this is the purpose of the Media Direct partition:
Quote
MediaDirect enables you to watch DVD movies, slideshows, or listen to music without having to boot the complete XP operating system.

I don't know about anyone else, but that sounds like a relatively useless and unnecessary thing to install on a hard drive.  You apparently never use it, so you obviously won't miss it when it's gone.

This button apparently messes with, or bypasses, the Master Boot Record.

The basic understanding of it that I get is that the button is just programmed in a way to skip to directly booting that partition.

The good news is that if you are really VERY clever with Linux, you can tweak a dual boot arrangement so as to use that special button instead to boot up Linux.

While that may be possible, it's completely unnecessary.

The bad news is that it is hard if not impossible to remove Dell Media Direct cleanly and totally, and if it remains and you aren't careful, that button can mess up the MBR and/or the "grub" and you end up in infinitely deep trouble.

I'm fairly certain your worries here are overblown -- almost certainly caused by reading accounts by people who had no idea what they were doing.  I'm relatively certain that you'll be able to get rid of the partition and equally confident that once that is done, pushing the button will do absolutely nothing from that point forward.  The button is set to look for and boot from a specific partition.  If that partition is gone, it won't find anything to boot from and that will be the end of it.  (Now that I've said that, your computer will probably make a fool out of me and self destruct instead.  :o   Hopefully not.)

You should be able to get rid of that partition and install Linux Lite.  If you already have or have created a Windows recovery CD/DVD (normally there's a way to do that from within Windows), then you can even get rid of the recovery partition if you want to.

To give us a better look at the drive and the partitions, boot up with LL DVD.  Open GParted -- Menu -> System -> Partition Drives.  Let it load picture of the hard drive and take a screenshot of the window.  (Use "PrtScn" button or go to Menu -> Accessories -> Screenshot.)  Post that screenshot back here for us to see.  Close GParted when done.

Then open a terminal -- forth icon to right of Menu button.  Enter the following command, then copy/paste the output back here for us to see:
Code: [Select]
sudo fdisk -l
We'll be able to give precise directions on how to proceed from info shown by both of above.

While waiting for response back, to prepare for installation do the following:
*  Create Windows recovery disk(s) if you don't have them already
*  Defragment the C: drive
*  If Windows XP has the built-in ability to shrink the C: drive after defragmenting is done, then shrink it to make room for the LL installation.  Don't create any partitions -- just shrink C:.  If you can't do that in Win XP, don't worry about it -- we'll do it with GParted later.
*  Make backup copies of any important data files you don't want to lose.  (Precautionary measure just in case you make a drastic mistake or something like a power outage happens while you're in the middle of installing.)

P.s.  If, for some reason, you want to keep the Media Direct partition, that may be possible but I can't say for sure how well the procedure will go and that LL will be able to boot properly.  I say that not because of the Media Direct partition itself, but because we will need to enclose the LL installation within the Windows created extended partition that Media Direct is on.  Have read about possible problems with trying to install Linux on partitions created by Windows.
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Dell Media Direct and Linux
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2014, 05:13:37 PM »
 

br1anstorm

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I am still in exploratory mode before taking the leap from Windows XP to Linux, and have just encountered another interesting issue.

I have two laptops, both currently running Windows XP.  I'd like to set up either, or both, to dual boot with Linux Lite (or maybe another distro like Zorin?).  So for the moment I thought I would try things out from the Live CD.  But there seem to be issues with both.

The newer of my two laptops - and the one I use daily - is a Dell Inspiron 1520.  It has an Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz processor.  I can run Linux Lite or Zorin on it in trial mode from a Live CD, and have done so just to see what they look like.   

But (there seems always to be a but...) I have looked at the disk partitions on the laptop.  It seems already to have four partitions:  a 118MB FAT "EISA" (which I believe has something to do with Dell's Recovery/Restore);  the C drive of 227GB NTFS which is the system partition and is doubtless where Windows XP resides along with all my files; then an "Extended Partition" of 2.50GB FAT32 which has no drive letter but is labelled Media Direct and logical drive;  and finally another 3.00GB FAT32 partition labelled "unknown".

I have researched Dell Media Direct, and it seems I have version 3.  I have never used it.  Although I don't understand the jargon,  it is apparently on a 'logical drive' so that it can be booted directly (from a special button on the keyboard) without having to fire up the main OS.  This button apparently messes with, or bypasses, the Master Boot Record.  The good news is that if you are really VERY clever with Linux, you can tweak a dual boot arrangement so as to use that special button instead to boot up Linux.  The bad news is that it is hard if not impossible to remove Dell Media Direct cleanly and totally, and if it remains and you aren't careful, that button can mess up the MBR and/or the "grub" and you end up in infinitely deep trouble.

So I am shying away from installing Linux Lite on this laptop for two reasons.  As there are four partitions on the hard drive already, I'm not sure whether or how Linux can be installed alongside XP as a dual boot.  Is there scope to create the two more partitions (a system one and a swap one) needed for the Linux OS, and can the auto-installer do this?  And even if it can, I assume I would still be left with the Media Direct partition; and the special Media Direct button on the keyboard then becomes like the nuclear button - press it and the screen goes black or the system seizes up.  Not nice.

Can anyone offer advice (in plain English, please) on whether or how to successfully install Linux Lite as dual boot on a machine which has this Dell Media Direct thing lurking on the hard drive?

Meanwhile, I thought about option B - trying to install Linux as a dual boot on my other, even older, laptop.  That's when a curious thing called "pae" (or rather the lack of it) reared its ugly head.  As that's a different problem, I'm posting it in a separate thread.

 

 

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