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A quick look at the GParted live CD

By Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier on May 18, 2006 (8:00:00 AM)

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Need a way to resize NTFS partitions, mirror disk images, or otherwise muck about with disk partitions -- and don't want to use a proprietary package like Partition Magic? If so, the GNOME Partition Editor (GParted) is an excellent open source tool for the task. The GParted team released the GParted live CD version 0.2.4-2 this month, so I decided it was a good time to take GParted for a spin.

GParted handles Ext2, Ext3, FAT16, FAT32, JFS, ReiserFS, Reiser4, NTFS, XFS, and other filesystem formats. At a bare minimum, GParted can detect, read, copy, and create partitions using those file systems -- and, in some cases, can shrink, expand, and move partitions. See the features page on the GParted site for the full rundown on GParted's capabilities.

GParted is actually a front end for GNU Parted, but it's much easier to use GParted's interface than the command line utility.

The GParted live CD bundles GParted, the Fluxbox window manager, and a minimal set of tools to provide a single-purpose Linux distro for working with disk partitions. This is the kind of thing that almost any admin or power user will want to have in his toolbox. You might only use the CD every few months, but it's a good thing to have handy when you need it.

For example, if you're installing Fedora Core onto a system that already has an NTFS partition -- say, to get your boss to try Linux -- you'll need a separate utility to do the partitioning, because Fedora's installer doesn't handle partition resizing. It's possible to run GParted from a normal distribution -- for example, GParted is available in the Ubuntu repositories -- but it's pretty useful to have on a live CD that lets you make changes to all the partitions without worrying about having any of them mounted.

Using the GParted live CD

Using the live CD is as easy as falling off a bike. Just download the ISO image, burn it to a CD, and boot up the target machine using the CD. It's a tiny image -- less than 30MB -- so it'll fit on a business card CD, if you like that sort of thing. GParted will ask a few questions about your language and display preferences -- I just picked the VESA driver, which worked just fine -- and then boots into Fluxbox with GParted running.

It should go without saying, though I'll say it anyway, that you should back up any crucial data before making any modifications to the partitions on your drives. I didn't run into any problems with GParted, but it's always possible that you'll encounter an undiscovered bug that will eat your data -- or you might wipe something out due to user error. Better to be safe than sorry. You'll also want to be careful about re-arranging partitions, since you could create a situation where you'd need an emergency disk to get back into your OS because the partition names had changed.

I decided to start using GParted on a test system that I planned to reformat anyway, to get a hang of the interface. I tried deleting, creating, and moving partitions around, then booted into the installer for the next test distro to make sure that the partitions were OK after being changed by GParted. Everything checked out, so I decided to take it for a spin on a production system -- albeit not my main system.

I used GParted to resize an NTFS filesystem on my laptop, an IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad T43. This is my work laptop, which was originally configured with Windows XP. I had already carved up the partition to install Ubuntu Dapper on the machine, and decided that I wanted to liberate a little more space for Linux on the machine than I had originally.

I booted the T43 with the GParted live CD and selected the NTFS partition. I particularly like the fact that GParted displays the amount of used space within a partition, so there's no confusion about how much space you need to leave when shrinking a partition.

After halving the NTFS partition, I wanted to grant the newly freed space to the Ext3 partition with Ubuntu -- but GParted wouldn't let me do this, because it won't move a partition backward on the disk, only forward. One workaround, if you need to do something like this, would be to use two disks (at least temporarily) to copy the second partition over to the spare disk, destroy the original partition, create it again with the desired size, and then copy the partition back over to the first disk.

Instead of going to all that effort, I decided to create a new Ext3 partition, which I'd assign to /home after booting into Ubuntu. After modifying the NTFS partition, I rebooted the machine. Windows decided it needed to run its Scandisk application, then reboot again. It found no errors, and Windows XP seemed just fine. Next, I rebooted to check Ubuntu and see if the partition had been modified successfully. Ubuntu booted up just fine without any complaints.

While my tests were relatively simple, GParted can do more. For instance, it can copy partitions and even entire disks if you have multiple disks on a system. I'm a bit disappointed that it doesn't offer a way to expand a partition into any free space that occurs before the partition, but that's fairly minor. I'd also like it if GParted offered a way to rename partitions -- for example, if you have sda1, sda2, and sda3 and delete sda2, I don't see any way to rename sda3 to sda2.

Another thing that was somewhat disappointing -- GParted's help system is absent in the live CD. If you click "help" while in GParted you get a "not implemented" message. GParted is exactly the sort of application that you'd want to have online help available for.

Other than those minor complaints, though, I was happy with the GParted live CD. It's free, easy to use, and a quick download. If you spend much time with computers for work or fun, I recommend grabbing the GParted live CD. You never know when it might come in handy.

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on A quick look at the GParted live CD

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Great tool

Posted by: OwlWhacker on May 19, 2006 04:35 AM
This is what I use for partitioning. I highly recommend it.

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Simply awesome

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 23, 2006 01:13 AM
Thanks for posting this article. I had been putting off a much needed revamp of a dual-boot machine until now. GParted is incredible. Extremely easy to use, and worked perfectly.

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Setting up for dual boot

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 24, 2006 02:13 AM
I'm trying to get space for a Linux partition on my Win XP laptop. The defrag tool in Windows packs everything close to the beginning of the disk except for a few files that it puts close to the end. Despite repeated defrags, these files at the end still remain.

Is there some free software tool that can do the job properly so I can make room for Linux? Thanks.

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Changing start of partitions

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 18, 2006 10:43 PM
Yep, unfortunately no partition tool based on GNU Parted will let you change the start of the partition, so using the command-line tool won't help (the piece might leave some with the impression that this is a flaw of GParted.)

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Re:Changing start of partitions

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 19, 2006 08:41 AM
Not true. Parted has a "move" command, and I believe GParted even exposes it if it's available; it's just that (as I recall) it only knows how to move ext2 partitions. Moving is a really tricky process that involves rewriting lots of stuff in the filesystem.

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Re:How about using on usb

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 19, 2006 12:43 AM
Yes it should work fine on usb mounted disks.

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Reiserfs

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 19, 2006 10:14 AM
I've trashed a few reiserfs partitions using the linux rescue cd, because it was using some ancient non-official reiserfs tools.

I don't know which version or whose reiserfs tools this is using, but be careful,

Sam

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Re:Reiserfs

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 19, 2006 09:47 PM
Yes. Ranish Partition Manager. A really small DOS program.

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Remember when all you needed was a floppy?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 19, 2006 12:37 PM
30 MB disk image... I remember back in the day when I could not only repartition, but do much more, and all I needed was a single floppy disk. Oh well, that's progress for ya...

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Re:Remember when all you needed was a floppy?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 20, 2006 12:31 AM
Back in the day did you have a full GUI on that single floppy disk?

Did that single floppy disk handle anything besides FAT/NTFS partitions?

The fact is, there are still ways to repartition with only a single floppy disk. This solution just offers more.

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Sure I remember when all I needed was a floppy

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 20, 2006 01:04 AM
I still have my old copy of Partition Magic 6.0 around. It comes in a 2-in-1 package: a full-blown Windows version and a plain DOS version. Make a bootable Windows floppy, copy the DOS version of Partition Magic into it and:

- yes, it fits in a floppy

- yes, it has a GUI and mouse support

- yes, it handles FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, Linux swap and EXT2.

And I assume you know that you can turn an ext2 partition into ext3 without destroying its data.

Quick! Go get the bloat police.

-- Billy Bob Ulrich

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How Old Are You? 12?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 20, 2006 10:48 PM
Back in the day did you have a full GUI on that single floppy disk?

What are you, 12? Of course they had a GUI. Tools like Norton Disk Doctor, Partition Magic and Ghost all worked from DOS diskettes with GUI interfaces and mouse support.

Further more, they were so small, you could fit two and perhaps even all three of them on a single bootable 1.44MB floppy diskette.

<tt>parted</tt> uses:
<tt>parted 48K
libparted 310K
libuuid 9.5K
libreadline 182K
libdl 13K
libncurses 284K

Total: 846K</tt>

And we haven't even touched the GUI yet. Throw in <tt>libgtk</tt> at 1.2 MB and all its supporting libraries and it's tough to compare these to any of the not so old DOS apps.

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Re: Remember when all you needed was a floppy?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.99.76.36] on February 13, 2008 04:39 PM
GParted is bigger because it uses linux, so you need linux on the cd.

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Will it be able to save a laptop diskimage to DVD?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 19, 2006 05:14 PM
I was looking for a tool to backup the OS that is installed on the laptop when you buy it. For this I don't really care about partitions, but simply backup the entire laptop disk (assuming the used diskspace is 4GB or less) to a (possibly compressed file on) DVD, so I could restore it later, maybe this does the job.

But it seems a liveboot-CD like this will mount and lock the available DVD-writer.
If so, I'm probably looking for the following:
- will it be possible to temporarily unmount the DVD-writer (to be able to burn the image) or will the running OS be dependent on files on the liveboot-CD.
- install the OS into a ram disk, making the CD-writer independent of OS files.
- have the liveboot-CD on a USB-stick and boot from that, laeaving the DVD-writer available.

There must be more laptop users with this problem.. any suggestions?

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Re:Will it be able to save a laptop diskimage to D

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 19, 2006 06:05 PM
Gparted is included on the Insert LiveCD (<a href="http://www.inside-security.de/insert_en.html" title="inside-security.de">http://www.inside-security.de/insert_en.html</a inside-security.de>). This can be put on a USB Pen Drive. It may be possible to copy it to RAM from the CD also though I am not certain.

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Re:Will it be able to save a laptop diskimage to D

Posted by: Administrator on May 20, 2006 08:22 AM
To create your image you could use either ntfsclone or partimage. There is a couple of options on how to save the image depending on what hardware you have. One would be to use Knoppix and save your image onto a network drive (either samba or nfs), or a usb drive. Both tools are on knoppix. The other option is to save the image onto another partition and then burn onto a dvd using puppy linux or DSL, both of which can run from a ramdisk and have dvd burning software. I don't know of any small distros that include cloning tools and burning software. Knoppix can run on a ram disk if you have 1G of ram. Hope this helps.

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Use labels, not devices

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 20, 2006 01:02 AM
The author complains:

"I'd also like it if GParted offered a way to rename partitions -- for example, if you have sda1, sda2, and sda3 and delete sda2, I don't see any way to rename sda3 to sda2."

Better than that, use names that don't change. When you format a partition, give it a label. Then instead of referring to them by their device numbers in fastab or mount commands, refer to them by their label names.

There. Now you can add or delete partitions and never care about the order change.

-- Billy Bob Ulrich

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QTParted Redux.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 20, 2006 11:39 PM
So, way back in 2004 <a href="http://qtparted.sourceforge.net/" title="sourceforge.net">QTParted achieved stable release.</a sourceforge.net> At that time GParted "burst" onto the scene <a href="http://qtparted.sourceforge.net/screenshots.en.html" title="sourceforge.net">looking exactly like QTParted.</a sourceforge.net> Two years later GParted makes news by releasing a live distro version.

But, QTParted has been available in a live distro for years. It has been part of the infamous, <a href="http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html" title="knopper.net">Knoppix</a knopper.net> live CD for quite some time. A live CD, I might add, that offers far far greater functionality than simply repartitioning disks.

I can't see the advantage of carrying yet another live CD when I already have Knoppix and QTParted!

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Re:QTParted Redux.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 31, 2007 12:45 AM
Um, I do. Knoppix and some other live cd OSs might mount your drives, while GParted will not.

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Perhaps that's all they want.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 21, 2006 08:59 PM
I've been thinking about doing something like this for a while, but they've gone ahead and done it. Thanks! Having said that, I wish they had used the extra 7-8 Mb of space it would have taken to pack in the documentation and a binary of Dillo.
I would hesitate to load Knoppix because of all that extra functionality; it's a fully-fledged distro, rather than a single-purpose tool. You can hand this to someone and say, "This will partition your drive.", without them getting confused - its purpose is clear.

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Re:Perhaps that's all they want.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 22, 2006 01:25 AM
I think that the distro is ok, but its more of a tool than a distro. There are some times when you just want something that will partition your drives, and just that. Yes, you could boot into slax, or something like that, but that takes longer, and has a lot of crap you don't actually need to get the job done.

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Using PARTED to CLONE Windows XP/2K Installations.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 22, 2006 10:32 AM
HOWTO CLONE WINDOWS XP/2000
INSTALLATIONS FROM LINUX (BACK-UPS).


A guide to cloning (for backing-up, or just duplicating) your XP/2000 installations using Linux.

This will save you a lot of time next time you have to reinstall Windows.

Interested then click here:

<a href="http://linux.coconia.net/" title="coconia.net">http://linux.coconia.net/</a coconia.net>

Cloning, saves you the need to reinstall and customize all of your third party software and drivers, as cloning saves your system as is.

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Interesting comment from above linked article.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 22, 2006 12:33 PM
However, if you used the NTFS filesystem for your XP install, then things are somewhat more difficult. Thankfully, due to information provided by Petr Soucek (petr.soucek@ryston.cz), not too much more difficult.

The main problem, is that parted refuses to deal with the situation, claiming:


  No Implementation: Support for opening ntfs file systems is not implemented yet.

Of course, this is a totally bogus claim, as a partition editor like parted works "outside the filesystem". When parted copies a partition it copies the filesystem as well as the files, so it neither needs to read from, nor write to, any filesystem.

<a href="http://linux.coconia.net/copyingXP.htm" title="coconia.net">http://linux.coconia.net/copyingXP.htm</a coconia.net>

So do you really think that Parted is deliberately crippled?

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Great tool

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 26, 2006 03:01 PM
Hi,

I think gparted is fan-tas-tic! It works like a dream, has a intuitive gui and is easy to handle.
Best partition tool ever. I love the live cd, so before partitioning you can download the newest version and have the benifits of any new functionality.

Since gparted I never have to use partition magic again. Also usable for windows users..<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)

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Gpart ed errors on new Sony AR270

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 04, 2006 08:56 PM
I downloaded Gparted CD software and burned to a CD. When I try to boot on Sony AR270, it gives all kinds of errors. AR270 is Core 2 system. I tried on AR250 (for my friend) it works great! But I don't know why it does not work for AR270. I contacted Sony support. They say to contact Gparted software vendor.

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Behold the awesome powers of GParted Live!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 18, 2006 05:55 PM
I was tearing out my hair looking for a feasible way to clone my dual-boot Linux/ Windows box onto a bigger hard drive, complete with mbr. I was leaning towards Acronis, and cloning from the windows partition, but the box doesn't support more than one IDE drive, and as the connection was wireless, using an FTP server looked pretty bleak at 3-400 kbs, plus restoring the image : (

Gparted provided the functionality I was looking for in a very intuitive user interface, you can literally "cut and paste" entire OS partitions from one IDE master to slave drive, and even resize the partitions to desired size on the new , bigger, hard drive. And this is even after the dated bios on the box I was using for this failed to correctly recognize the size of the new 200gb slave drive! Gparted out performed my wildest expectations.

True, QTparted and slax offer similar functionality, but the live boot cd made it possible to perform the clone, without having to worry about any mounted partitions, or even trying to boot the drive,at all. Just plug in both drives as master and slave, boot the Live iso, cut &paste partitions, and return new drive to original box! What could be easier!

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Re: Behold the awesome powers of GParted Live!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.202.71.238] on August 16, 2007 05:17 PM
Acronis 8, 9 and 10 do not work (and Ghost11 and R-Image and Paragon) for me on my Tri-boot (w2k, xp, ubuntu) sata drives.

For the Image or Clone process... they just fail to copy or restore the critical Grub bootsector for Ubuntu. So, with these three sectors all zeros, the cloned copy will not boot into Linux and the partition shows as not bootable. As it is still a Windoz World, xp and w2k work fine.

I tried to cut and paste the bootsector code from the original disk into the new cloned disk and that helped some. At least now I get the LCD monitor to display GRUB before it halts. The partition table shows it to be a type 83 but now it is sorta getting over my head which has little hair left.

Why is it so hard to just copy a drive, byte by byte? I'm glad I found this article... Thank you. I'll give Gparted a try and hope it works.

Thanks to all the posters.

Benoone

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How about using on usb

Posted by: Administrator on May 18, 2006 10:57 PM
Does this come with a u

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Re:How about using on usb

Posted by: Administrator on May 18, 2006 10:59 PM
sorry, I press fat finger the return key.

any way I'm just wondering if USB is supported on this as well.

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Re(1):How about using on usb

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.99.76.36] on February 13, 2008 04:44 PM
Yes, see previous posts.

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