Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Still more about HD repartitioning

It seems I cannot escape the yearly ritual of hard disk swapping. This year I'm getting a 250 GB IDE drive to replace my 120 GB drive at home. As usual I do not want to lose any data and I want the process to be as painless as possible. This time I used a slightly different approach: I connected the new drive to my office computer as a slave drive to copy all the data I've had at the office (back-ups are always a good thing). Then I moved the drive home. I was keeping SuSE 10.0 in my home computer but I was willing to replace it by Ubuntu's Dapper Drake. So I copied my Ubuntu install from my office and I saved myself the configuration process. I was lucky enough to get the system working (including X) without changing a bit (as have ATI graphic cards on both systems and the rest was properly auto-detected).

At home I am keeping a MS Windows Fat32 partition with some software (like taxes forms) I need to use yearly. I had a 6GB partition that was almost full, so I just did a dd if=/dev/hda1 of=/dev/sda1 to get all data copied, but the destination partition (sda1) was a 16 GB partition and, though the new hard drive is a IDE drive, it was connected through an USB-IDE adapter I bought on eBay for around $10. The advantage of such a converter is you do not need to open the box to transfer your disk contents (incidentally, I cannot easily have two IDE hard disks connected inside my ASUS Pundit box 'cause there is no room --if you do not remove the CD first--).

The problem with dd command is that it just performs a raw copy. You end up with a filesystem who thinks it sits on a 6GB partition without being able to use the remaining 10 GB space. The solution is to use parted to get the filesystem straight. Just resize your partition and accept the default start and end partition values and Bob's your uncle. Once you boot up Windows you will be told a new device has been installed and you will be asked to reboot the system (so the new device can be used). On the second boot you will see your full-size filesystem with all the available [new] space. I guess NTFS partitions will work the same but I have not tried it out, so exercise caution if you do.

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