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Windows 7: A shortage of "Primaries".

01 Mar 2010   #1

Win7, Fedora 12, Ubuntu
A shortage of "Primaries".

I should be asking this of Compaq support, but they are very limited in what they can advise and this hardly falls within "original installation" territory. They not only won't support multi booting, but claim that it will void the warranty.

I have read many threads about the "System" partition of Win 7 OEM installs without really seeing my question addressed. I am coming back to Windows after some time using Fedora, from 4 through 10 and building my own systems. A new system (gift) gave me the opportunity to upgrade to Fedora 12 and Win 7, which I beta tested and really liked. I now have both comfortably residing on my 500 gig drive, each in their own partition world and oblivious to each other.

My problem is my sister-in-law (on so many levels, but that's a topic for another forum) who wants to run Ubuntu with very little experience at anything remotely technical. I, being the family "geek" (sucker?), just know that I might as well install it where I will have it handy for reference. This system would be a natural for it for reasons of location, drive size, and general convenience. My file/backup server is in the basement and I really don't want to mess that up with a dual boot anyway. I have an old home built Pent IV system laying around but don't want to invest in a KVM to make it feasible to use it from my office where the new system resides. This may sound like a lot of "pie in the sky" wanting, but if we can't make technology work the way we want then why have it?

The issue has to do with the "primary partition limit". With the system, oem restore, and C:\ partitions Windows takes up 3 of the 4. My (necessary) Fedora takes up the 4th. Ubuntu will not boot from a logical drive, so I really need to free up one of the four partitions, and the obvious would be the "System" drive. If I can make the OS boot from within C:\ I can tweak the Linux boot loader to point it there. I could do this with a fresh install and a retail disk, but I'm not made of money either. I understand that MS is moving toward virtual drive mapping with Win7, but the general needless use of a primary partition really messes with my plans for this system.

I don't expect to need Compaq customer support and could just delete the "restore" partition, but that could be a fool's bet for sure. Would the DVD's I made when setting up the system replace this partition? If so, then I could not only gain a primary, but also about 10 gig of drive.

Reading through the threads on this forum has lead me to believe that this is the likely source of my answer and I await that answer in confidence.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Mar 2010   #2

Win7 x64 Ultimate SP1

Seems like your a prime candidate for some sort of virtualization. I use VMware workstation and have run Ubuntu just fine. Check out the virtualization section on this forum.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Mar 2010   #3

Win7, Fedora 12, Ubuntu

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ken9122 View Post
Seems like your a prime candidate for some sort of virtualization. I use VMware workstation and have run Ubuntu just fine. Check out the virtualization section on this forum.

I just knew you guys would want me to learn something. OK, but just this once. Notice the name?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

01 Mar 2010   #4
Microsoft MVP


Please post back a screenshot of your full Disk management drive map, using Snipping Tool in Start Menu, attach file using paper clip in reply box.

It's possible that the installation of other OS's disabled your OEM recovery partition - do you know if it can run or boot? The key(s) given in manual or on first boot screen to Run Recovery usually set it active so it boots. If it doesn't work then the disks can replace it.

You say you have a System partition - is that the 100mb Win7 System Reserved boot partition? Is it marked active? That can be deleted with it's active flag, MBR and disk space recovered into Win 7 partition if you wish.

But let us see the drive map first so we can say for sure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Mar 2010   #5

Win7, Fedora 12, Ubuntu

Snip from drive map

Attached Images
A shortage of "Primaries".-capture.png 
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Mar 2010   #6
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

The factory image (recovery partition) is your candidate. But first burn the recovery disk(s) - in fact 2 or 3 DVDs - from the recovery partition. And to make double sure, image your system with this program. Make sure you don't forget to burn the recovery CD. Now you should be covered on all fronts.
Btw: I suggest to take an image with Macrium as often as you can afford external disk space wise. I do that every second day - never had to reinstall because of a system problem. I always have a recent image handy. I usually keep 10 images around - a couple of very old ones and then recent ones.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Mar 2010   #7


Another (personally less desirable) alternative would be to use Ubuntu's WUBI installer and install Ubuntu from within Windows.

It's basically creates a bootable Virtual Hard Drive (uses NTFS) that can be 'uninstalled' like an application from within Windows.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Mar 2010   #8
Microsoft MVP


If you have the Recov disks, then you can delete Recov partition as it will be recreated if you need to return to factory condition using Disks. A clean reinstall should be done with a Win7 DVD anyway to avoid bloatware corruption, or the modern way to reinstall is using a system image.

You asked in OP about removing 100mb Sys Reserved partition saying you could make the necessary Fedora boot changes if it is recovered into your C: Win7 drive. Here's how:

Back up files as resizing operations can fail. You might want a system image so you could start over.

Boot into free Partition Wizard CD, select 1 for screen res, let files load, rightclick System Reserved drive to Delete, OK.

Now rightclick C:Win7>Modify>Set to Active, OK. Then rightclick C>Resize, slide left grey border over deleted 100mb space, OK. Apply all steps.

Win7 will not now boot. Instead boot Win7 DVD Repair console or Repair CD, click through to Recovery Tools list to run Startup Repair up to 3 separate times with reboots to write MBR to C:Win7.

Some have used a new feature on PW CD that rebuilds MBR, so you might try that first before using the automated bootsect/bootrec commands in Startup Repair.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Mar 2010   #9

Win7, Fedora 12, Ubuntu

Three different approaches, and they're all right. Thanks guys!!!!!!!

I think I will delete the "System" partition and simply repair the MBR and repoint the Linux boot loader. After the warranty expires I will delete the recovery partition, but I don't need the space right now. I'll still use the recommended imaging app tho. I like the idea of something a bit less hungry than Acronis and more dependable than the Windows utility. The thought of integrating a backup into a reload of the original system config isn't the material dreams are made of. I have always used Acronis and do weekly backups to a raid server. Call me paranoid but- - - well, just call me paranoid. Once burnt, always lernt.

Thanks again!! I'll be back around often. Still old, but a little less grumpy.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 A shortage of "Primaries".

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