How to Uninstall/Reinstall Linux?

Can anyone help me get rid of a bunch of sloppy partitions so I can do a clean install?

Last week, I went to Tianlong books and bought a couple Knoppix CD’s (English and Chinese versions) on a whim. Knoppix works great, so I decided I wanted to actually install Linux on one of my computers (the new one – 1.6 GHz CPU, 1 GB RAM, 40 GB HD, running Win2000). First I tried with a Mandrake 8.0 CD I had lying around. Because of what I consider somewhat poor explanations, it only installed the commandline interface – no GNOME, no KDE, no applications, nothing. This automatically comes up when I boot the computer now. It’s basically a waste of space. It’s also a waste of time, because the system only gives me two seconds to choose an OS other than Linux, so I have to wait and watch while it boots, instead of doing something useful.

I tried various ways, unsuccessfully, to get rid of this partition, but with no luck. Among other methods, I’ve tried: reinstalling Mandrake from the boot CD; reinstalling another distro (Redhat); trying to uninstall Mandrake from the boot CD; and trying to install System Commander and re-partition from within that. None of these methods have worked, and I now have two uselessly-small Linux partitions on my HD (plus swap partitions). I also have to be eagle-eyed when rebooting, or it goes into the useless Mandrake commandline. I’d really like to get rid of my Linux partitions and start from scratch.

I’ve done a bit of research and seen that maybe I need to use fdisk. I tried this through the Knoppix root shell, but it always tells me “no partition is defined yet!” (even though I told it which partition to work on with the fdisk command). What am I missing? Please, please help if you can!

I’m very reluctant to go out and buy Partition Magic or whatever because of my poor luck with System Commander 2000. I’ve used System Commander on my older computer (350 MHz/256 MB/6 & 30 GB), resulting in a lot of aggravation and a smaller usable hard drive. I tried to install Redhat there a couple years ago and got nothing but frustration.

There’s one more question I’d like to ask, too – is it possible to have OS’s boot from separate drives? Every time I try to install Mandrake onto my second (much larger) drive, it never gives me an option to install it there but instead tries to crowbar it into the first, much smaller drive. This results in less space for installing programs and inevitably results in terrible Windows performance due to discombobulated file locations.

I’m sure I’m missing many obvious points about all of this, but they aren’t obvious to me yet. I really want to use Linux, but am getting very frustrated! There are also many other details I could go on about, but I’m not sure what’s important to know, and this is already getting too long. Please help!

My neighbor swears by (instead of at) this tool:
Ranish Partition Manager

As far as the drive, if there is nothing at all on it that you want to save, you should just be able to reinstall from scratch, which should wipe everything off without having to deal with other partitioning tools – every time I’ve installed Mandrake, it has insisted on repartitioning the whole drive and destroying whatever was on it already. Maybe that’s changed in the latest release, though, I dunno.


If you have 2 machines, I would suggest installing Linux on the older machine, so you can try all you want

On the new machine, try to avoid using fdisk, as it could easily
corrupt your filesystem table thus destroying your whole data
including your Windows

I would recommend to download the trial version of Partition Magic
to recover the lost space on the Linux partitions

Either Red Hat or Mandrake should have the option to setup the partitions
manually instead of automatically, then you can select the larger drives or the one of your choice


when you get in your command line you can change the settings of your boot loader search for

lilo.conf : if you use LILO, don’t forget to run lilo after you have altered the configuration file
grub.conf : if you use GRUB

normally seen when you install linux, you can just choose your partition … and it will install on that partition

Thanks to all who’ve posted replies.

I tried Ranish Partition Manager and, though it was extremely unclear and not very user friendly at all, it finally worked. I was worried it wouldn’t recognize my Windows 2000 partitions (NTFS, right?), but somehow it worked. I successfully deleted the unusable partitions.

Then I tried installing Mandrake through the “Expert” installation mode. This finally gave me choices as to where to mount the system and how big to make the partitions. This was also very user-hostile, as at several points along the way, I had to just guess what a given command referred to. However…

I’ve now got Mandrake Linux 9.1 running on my new machine. :slight_smile: I seriously doubt I could do it again, but somehow, I got it.

Thanks again for the help.

Now, on to buy a bigger HD so I can actually put a usable amount of apps on my system… Oh, by the way, can Linux run apps that aren’t on its home partition?

Hmm. I guess I should have thought about that a bit – my neighbor is a hypertechnogeek who runs a server farm of about a dozen machines in his basement – he doesn’t DO anything with them other than keep them up and running, which may give you a hint as to his level of insanity. . . . :slight_smile:

Yes. You just need to mount that partition when you boot up the system; it probably won’t be added to the mount table file until you add it in there by hand. The manual pages for mount and umount will guide you to information on that if you don’t know it already. (A “mount point” is just an empty directory that you use as a starting point on which to mount a filesystem.)

If you have a choice, I would suggest using a Linux filesystem for that drive, just because you’ll be able to set all the permissions and SUID bits and so on if the packages need any of that. (I’ve mounted FAT / FAT32 partitions on Linux machines, when moving data over from Windows boxes, but haven’t tried running anything from them; they don’t have anywhere nearly as extensive a permissions scheme as UNIX systems do. It’d probably work even if you used one of these, but. . . .)

also check the man page for fstab (there go all the mount points in) probably their exist some more GUI like application to add entries, but i don’t know it …

I prefer using ext3, because it uses file journaling, and so when the system crashes you loose almost no information and it gets back up very quickly (ReiserFS gets you the same).