Partition Hell

Posted on: 2017-01-15

In a recent post I talked about installing Linux Mint and giving it a go. I've been using it for a while and it has generally been a positive experience. Unfortunately the more I used it the more hard drive space was taken up and the 15 Gb I'd given over to it was starting to run out of space. On the upside when hard disk space did get low Mint was nice enough to tell me, and not only that ask if I wanted 'more info'. I eventually clicked 'more info' to be presented with a nice set of graphs I could browse through to see where the space all went - something that windows doesn't do. You can install WinDirStat utility on windows which is a good tool, but it's really nice that the functionality is all just built in.

Anyway then came the bad times. The 512 Gb drive actually has 3 OSes installed Windows 8, Windows 10, and now Linux Mint. I use Windows 8 on it and Windows 10 is only really there because I installed it before the free period was up. I was able to shrink the Windows 10 partition so it freed 10Gb before Linux Mint.

Now the problem was I needed to resize the Mint partition to use that extra 10Gb. So I tried

Whilst trying to burn the CD of GParted I read online in Windows 8, you can just click on iso and the option to burn will appear in 'ribbon' in file explorer. Well for reasons unknown it didn't for me. I booted windows 10 and it did, and I burned it, but it remained a fail.

At this point I was close to giving up. I booted up into Linux Mint and wondered what I could do inside of Linux - not least because at least such tools would presumably understand ext3 partitions. I found that I could install GParted - and tried to use that. This worked better than my GParted boot CDs, but I still couldn't resize the partition. That didn't surprise me too much because I was running Linux Mint from the partition I wanted to resize.

So on a whim I I wondered if I could use the Linux Mint live boot USB stick I'd made to install Mint in the first place. I was a little skeptical because I had to install GParted on my installation, and didn't know if 'live' version would allow me to do that. As it turns out it already had it. Moreover when I ran GParted it did allow me to resize the Mint partition - blind me. It did give me a warning that doing so might make it unbootable - but I figured I could probably do some other voodoo to fix that if that was the case. As it turns out it resized correctly, and booted just fine.

On the downside thats 2 hours down the drain. On the upside at least I could fix it - it was looking like a bust there for a while. Even though it was a huge pain I find myself once again impressed with Mint/linux and disappointed with windows. The disappointment is not that windows couldn't resize an ext3 partition - that might be perhaps a slightly unreasonable ask - more that doing disk related things in windows means the crap shoot with 3rd party tools. Such tools are scary. Which tools do what I need? Which tools are legitimate? Where can I download it from? What malware/crap will it install? I generally install afterwards because that lowers the risk of what it does do.

I might be being unreasonably lenient on Windows in that the linux tools can deal with windows NTFS partitions. OSX arguably does a better job than Windows too with generally better tools, UI and functionality built into the OS. Perhaps that is part of it's unix heritage.

Anyway if there were any advice I might give after all this it would be this - if you want to resize partitions, and the built in windows tools don't hack it, your best bet might be creating a Linux Mint bootable USB stick. Boot into that - you don't need to install it - and run gparted. That seems to work much better than a GParted bootable CD/USB drive.