Partition setup for dualboot with Windows 10

Hello world!

Trying to install Manjaro for the first time, following this guide - [HowTo] Dual-boot Manjaro - Windows 10 - Step by Step. My prerequisites are as follows:

  • a Linux user since 2004 (mostly Ubuntu/Mint), have tried Manjaro on VirtualBox for a month or so
  • the laptop: Lenovo X1 Extreme with Windows 10 preinstalled
  • the goal: keep the existing Windows 10 installation and make it a dualboot Manjaro/W10
  • the limitations: keeping the Windows stuff is crucial as all my work is there and I can't afford a delay in work (no, you guys are not responsible if something goes wrong, it's just a forum of good people)
  • the Windows stuff above is just a code folder and a programming/coding environment in the Ubuntu installation with some extra software within WSL2, which I'd like to move completely into Manjaro at the end

I have shrunk my Windows partition, freeing 272 Gb for the Manjaro, set off the Secure Boot option in BIOS, so now able to boot into my Manjaro USB stick and start the installation process. Then, at the disk partitioning step, I've got questions I'd like to have some answers before proceeding, because, you know, it's a potential data loss step. First, please see the screenshot of all the partitions I now have on the disk.

Screenshot%20from%202019-11-29%2004-10-56

Please also see the screenshot from the GRUB "Detect UEFI partitions" menu item:

04%20-%201

The installation guide says:

EFI PARTITION
Select the unpartitioned space → Create
a. Size → input 512
b. Filesystem → select FAT32
c. Mountpoint → select /boot/efi
d. Flags → check boot and esp → OK

Question 1: I think I already have the EFI partition (/dev/nvme0n1p1, FAT32, 260 Mb), so confused if the above means I shall create another one. Many other installation guides say the existing EFI partition can be reused. So, can I reuse my existing EFI partition? Shall I resize it somehow if so, as the guide says 512 but I have only 260? Shall I just mount the existing EFI partition to /boot/efi in case it can be reused?

Question 2: what are those other partitions /dev/nvme0n1p2, 16 Mb and /dev/nvme0n1p4, NTFS, 1000 Mb?

Question 3: the installer says the partition table is GPT, I can remember it's ok, but double-checking here - is that ok?

Question 4: you see the above guide says Flags → check boot and esp → OK. I see no esp flag for the existing EFI partition, so if the existing partition can be reused, which flags should I set on it then?

Question 5: is that enough to have 60 Gb for the root partition, keeping in mind I'd like to have Timeshift as well? Any partitions size suggestions are welcome.

Let me please know if any extra info is needed, and thanks in advance.

You can do as you see fit - a GPT partitiontable can hold 128 partition - and you can have as many partitions as the EFI partition type as you like. The efi boot order is set in firmware or by using the efibootmgr binary.

If you want to reuse your existing EFI partition - by all means - do so.

These are Microsoft partitions - don't touch them. Only use the free space.

Your question why the efi partition is lagging the $esp flag.


A recommended approach is to create your root 32-64G and your home on a secondary partition. Timeshift only backup system - any user files is not backed up when using Timeshift.

Having your home on a separate partition makes some of your computer life easier.

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I guess the idea behind having a separate ESP is to eliminate the risk of the grub being overwritten by some future major updates to Windows. Occasionally, this has been the case and has been experienced by some users.

Personally, I opt for an additional FAT32 formatted ESP of the size 100 MB and mounted at /boot/efi for Manjaro's Grub.

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Question 1: only mount point for /boot/efi not creation required

Question 2: /dev/nvme0n1p4 NTFS, 1000 Mb your windows data & os partition !

**Question 3:GPT , you can also check with parted -l

Question 4: recheck with parted -l if flag esp appears , boot is ok , if not that will explain 16MiB as logical partition for next coming ...

Question 5: that the big question , 60Gb is enough for you ?

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I think the more prudent approach will be to save your Timeshif snapshots on an external medium.

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16 Mb partition is called MSR - Microsoft Reserved. In general, it can be removed safely, but sometimes such action causes a failure to boot, so it's better to not touch it. It's 16 Mb after all, not a big deal.
1000 Mb partition is your Windows Recovery. If you have a .wim file inside Recovery folder located on that partition, then chances are it is your active recovery partition. It can also be checked with reagentc /info command from Windows terminal. My personal preference would be moving this partition to the left, next to nvme0n1p3, in order to keep Windows sections of the disk together since it has some benefits for Windows, and then creating Linux partitions, but this will render recovery function of Windows Recovery partition impossible, however, it is easy to fix. reagentc, xcopy commands and googling is all you need. Various Windows forums and stuff has this question answered many times.
Technically, a separate recovery partition is only needed if you have your main drive encrypted with Bitlocker and no install media available, so removing this partition is generally even more safe than doing the same with MSR.

EFI related question has been covered already, just be warned that sharing one $esp with Windows is not a good idea due to unpredictable nature of Windows updates :slightly_smiling_face:

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Ok great, it wasn't really obvious that I can have multiple EFI partitions. I was thinking on EFI as it's like MBR in the old times, so you can have only one such partition. Yeah, it's all much clear, thank you guys!

Let me explain my approach here. I was thinking about 200 Gb for the separate / and /home partitions (and maybe EFI as well), and 72 Gb for the swap, according to https://itsfoss.com/swap-size/. I have 32 Gb of RAM for now, and planning to upgrade to 64 Gb, just to feed that hungry Chrome I sometimes need for my work.

The 200 Gb above is maybe 60-100 for the root partition, and the rest for the /home. I haven't used this separate / and /home approach for years, so can't say for sure what is eating more space, root or home. All music, videos, pictures are going to be stored on the Windows partition. Below is my observation of what is eating space in /home and outside /home.

/home:

  • .cache
  • .local/share/... - I can remember some folders tend to grow much, such as baloo
  • .npm
  • Python virtualenvs
  • other programming language packages (I can remember Go packages were big enough)
  • .PyCharmXXX
  • some big apps in ~/opt

root partition:

  • package manager cache
  • docker images
  • some big MySQL/Postgres databases I use for development
  • icons, themes
  • Timeshift

Well, that's an excellent advice to keep the Timeshift stuff outside. I have an external 1 Tb drive, maybe will think of using it for that somehow if it appears to be not that slow.

For the list above, that's difficult to move most of that stuff outside. Maybe icons/themes, maybe Timeshift, maybe package manager cache. So I'd rather shrink more of the Windows partition. Oh, so another question then:

Will it break anything if I later shrink the Windows partition even more, and then extend/move one or all Linux partitions towards the shrunk Windows one?

before skrink windows parittion , think to optimize file positions before

Please note that Timeshift supports only EXT and btrfs filesystems and nothing else. So you would need a partition on that drive that is, say EXT4 formatted to accommodate the snapshots.

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Oh, good point! So I have to shrink some NTFS in favor of EXT on my external drive.

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Yes. Once you launch Timeshift, you can configure it so that it will save the snapshots onto this partition.

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Thank you guys for the help! I have successfully installed Manjaro, so maybe I'll come up later with other questions should they appear. It all went smoothly (and I'm surprised!) and according to the original manual I was referring to.

Regarding the esp flag for the boot partition, however, there is a UI issue in the installer that confused me. My original question was about there was no esp flag to set for the boot partition. In fact, the esp flag was there, but it wasn't intuitive that I have to scroll down. No scroll bar there, so I was under impression that those 4 first flags I see are the only ones. So, to summarise:

  • I didn't know that I can have more than one EFI partition (confusion number 1)
  • the UI bug with the hidden esp flag made me think that something is wrong with my partitions (confusion number 2)

After figuring the above out, things started looking as they should according to the manual I was following. The efibootmgr and the end showed the perfect boot sequence with no correction needed, so I just rebooted and voila.

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