Dual booting fedora 9/ Vista

Hello all, following the instructions here http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/fedora and am having a little problem.

I'm installing on an existing Windows Vista 32bit system, and am trying to add Linux to it as well so I can dual boot the two OS's. When I get to the partitioning section, I get this error:

Partitioning failed.
Could not allocate partitions as primary partitions. Not enough space left to create /boot.

OK so there is already 20gbs free on the HD, so that is not the issue. I have been told that I need to make an available primary /boot. Is that what is needed? I just want to check, because the guide says that this is for when Vista is already installed, but yet this was not discussed.

Any thoughts?

Dell Vostro 1400
Windows Vista Ultimate
2gig core 2 duo
160gig HD
2gig ram


On the Fedora chat, I was told that I needed to make the /boot the primary partition. But wouldn't the Vista partition need to be the primary? Am I incorrect in following the above guide?
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Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Hi Wile e, welcome to NST.
Primary, in the context of partitions, doesn't mean "first".
A primary partition is a type of partition, and windows can have only 4 of them on a single HDD. Because this became a problem when HDDs got bigger than 8Gb (In W95 a partition could be no larger than 2Gb because of the addressing restrictions in the architecture), they came up with the concept of the extended partition. You can now have up to 3 primaries and a single extended partition, or 4 primaries.
Inside the extended partition, you can create as many logical disks as you have letters available to address them.
Originally OSs had to be in a primary partition, but it is now possible (even with Windows, and always, I think with Linux) to have your OS (from XP onwards) on a logical disk inside the extended partition.
However, a logical disk cannot be marked "active", and thus cannot be used to contain the boot files. (the "active" flag tells the MBR where to find the boot sector containing the bootloader)
You will always need your boot files to be in a primary partition, so the Vista bootloader (and Vista probably) will be in one.
Thanks Terry for the quick response.

I am looking right now on my Computer Management tool in Vista, and it is showing 4 Primaries. But only two of them are being used and have drive letters allocated to them. Can I delete there other two?

List of Primary Partitions:

71mb (EISA configuration)
Recovery (D) 2.00gb NTFS Healthy (primary partition)
OS (C) 144.48gb NTFS Healthy (system,boot,page file,active,crash dump,primary partition)
2.50gb healthy (primary partition)

Only 3 of them are labeled primary, but on the bottom is says that blue is primary partitions and all four of the above are blue.

What are the unlabeled ones? They are both 100% free (nothing on them) and just sitting there. Could I delete them, shrink my c: partition and then make a new partition for the fedora install?


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Yes, if you want or need more than 4 partitions, then only 3 can be primary, and you'll need to reorganize the others to create an extended.
Have a good read of this though. If your system was created with a native Vista install (ie Vista did the partitioning), then you'll need to do your reconfiguration with Vista (or a recent compatible 3rd party app) or risk making the system unusable (old 3rd party apps use different partition alignments to the latest standards, of which Vista was an early adopter)
If you have 4 primaries, then any other space must surely be marked unallocated ?
Post a screenshot, and we can take a look.
Ok, deleted the 2.5gb partition. Now want to make it 15gb partition. Problem is, is that there is only 2.5gb free space showing and it won't allow me to shrink the c: more than 82mb even though theres close to 20gb free on it.

I'm mostly thinking out loud on here as I know that these are not the questions meant to be put here, but you never know when somebody has been down these roads before. :smile:


Above post was written before Terry's most recent post.



Would compressing the drive make it so I could shrink it some more?
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Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
OK, I can't quite read the numbers, but try moving any user data files (pictures,documents, video recordings etc ) off onto external storage temporarily (burn some DVD-Rs if you don't have an ext HDD or a big enough flash drive).
Do a drive cleanup, empty your recycle bin, scrap the TEMP folder contents, get rid of any of your own debris that's no longer needed, uninstall any redundant 3rd party apps you don't use (or even those you do use which can be easily reinstalled later), clean out your temporary internet files, etc etc. to pare down Vista to the bare minimum, then defrag the C:\ disk and try the shrink partition again