OT OS X HD Partitioning, multiple OSs

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Sat Dec 5 11:02:11 EST 2009

jim sims wrote:

>   I might be getting a 13" 160 GB  MacBook Pro
> What have other people done with their machines?
> What OS(s) have you loaded - XP, Vista,Windows 7?
> If Linux, what flavor might be the best/most common to develop for?
> How did you partition it? What sizes for each?
> What would you do differently if they did it over again (likely the  
> most informative question/answer!)?

Congrats on the new system.

FWIW, I use Parallels because I love being able to keep OS X running and 
share files, the Clipboard, etc. between them.  If you need native speed 
Bootcamp is hard to beat, but for VMs Parallels is pretty good.

I keep the most popular version of each OS family installed on my MBP:

- Win XP (still at 62%, with Vista at 17.5% and 7 at 6.5%

- Ubuntu - probably the leader for consumer Linux installs, so it can be 
a good choice if you're interested in deploying consumer apps for the 
Linux market.

I used the default settings in Parallels for each of these which do not 
require partitioning and grow over time.  Currently my XP install is 
6.2GB and Ubuntu is 3GB here.

I also carry a portable Firewire drive in my saddlebag as one of my 
three backup volumes (with another stored at the office and a third at 
home; redundant backups contribute to a good night's sleep <g>), and I 
have enough spare capacity on that drive to keep Parallels volumes for 
Vista and Win 7 on it for testing as needed.

I do regularly partition my drive whenever I get a new laptop, keeping 
the previous version of OS X installed on that smaller partition for 
testing and for the security of knowing I have something else to boot 
from if the SHTF.  I also keep Disk Warrior and other utils installed on 
both partitions so I can boot from the other to do deep cleaning when 

My secondary partition is small, about 20GB; just enough for the OS, 
swap, and utils.

With the last two OS X releases I must say I've never truly needed to 
boot from the secondary partition.  Perhaps that's related to my better 
adherence in recent years to the rule that one should keep at least 12 
GB free on OS X to avoid file system errors (I once had overlapping 
files when I let the free space get below 6GB -- don't do that, ever. 
Really.  It's a serious PITA, and easily avoidable with a little 
periodic housekeeping).

I'm tempted to say that on my next laptop I may not bother with the 
extra partition, but I'm old-fashioned and it is convenient to have the 
two latest OS X releases handy for testing.

With all those OSes on your MBP you're almost set -- just three more 
accessories to complete the portability package:


After all, who wants to be stuck in a car in Rome when there's so much 
to see?


  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World
  Rev training and consulting: http://www.fourthworld.com
  Webzine for Rev developers: http://www.revjournal.com
  revJournal blog: http://revjournal.com/blog.irv

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