Do we need to pay for disk partitioning tools anymore?

My early explorations of dual-booting of Windows and Linux led me into the world of disk partitioning. It also served a another use since any Windows 9x installations (that dates things a bit…) that I had didn’t have a tendency to last longer than six months at one point; putting the data on another partition meant that a fresh Windows installation didn’t jeopardise any data that I had should a mishap occur.

Then, Partition Magic was the favoured tool and it wasn’t free of charge, though it wasn’t extortionately priced either. For those operations that couldn’t be done with Windows running, you could create bootable floppy disks to get the system going in order to perform those. Thinking about it now, it all worked well enough and the usual caveats about taking care with your data applied as much then as they do now.

For the last few years, many Linux distributions have coming in the form of CD’s or DVD’s from which you can boot into a full operating system session, complete with near enough the same GUI that an installed version. When a PC is poorly, this is a godsend and makes me wonder how we managed without; having that visual way of saving data sounds all too necessary now. For me, the answer to that is that I misspent too many hours blundering blindly using the very limited Windows command line to get myself out of a crux. Looking back on it now, it all feels very dark compared to today.

Another good aspect to these Live Distribution Disks is that they come with hard disk partitioning tools such as the effective GParted. They are needed to configure hard drives during the actual installation process but they serve another process too: they can be used in place of the old proprietary software disks that were in use not so long ago. Being able to deal with the hard disk sizes available today is a very good thing as is coping with NTFS partitions along with the usual Linux options. The operations may be time consuming but they have seemed reliable so far and I hope that it stays that way in spite of any warning that get issued but you make any changes. Last weekend, I got to see a lot of what that means and I setting up my Toshiba Equium laptop for Windows/Ubuntu dual booting.

With the capability that is available both free of charge and free of limitations, you cannot justify paying for disk partitioning software nowadays and that’s handy when you consider the state of the economy. It also shows how things have changed over the last decade. Being able to load up a complete operating system from a DVD also serves to calm any nerves when a system goes down on you, especially when you surf the web to find a solution for the malady that’s causing the downtime.

Windows Home Server: an interesting proposition?

If I was still running Windows as my main OS, the idea of storing my files on a separate computer acting as a server would appeal to me. After all, I very quickly developed the habit of partitioning my hard disk so that my data files were separated from the rough and tumble lives of operating system and software files. Later, I took it further by placing system files and data files on separate hard drives, an arrangement that smoothed my move Linux. Separation of computers would further secure things and that’s why Windows Home Server caught my eye when it was released. The recent spate of glitches with the thing might have changed my mind but my move to Ubuntu makes that irrelevant now. In any event, I suppose that I could have gone with Network-Attached Storage or an external hard rive. I do possess the latter, and a backup is being stored on it as i write this, and the former still remains an option but for the fact that I am happy with how things stand. In any event, the conventional networking model would be yet another potential choice. I was going to say more about Windows Home Server but I think I’ll leave that to others so here’s a library of links for your perusal.

Windows Home Server

Windows Home Server Blog

Ars Technica’s view

engadget’s low down

Crunchgear: up close and personal