Do you fancy keeping those MP3s into their own partition? Want to copy data residing in one disk onto another? Crave for an easier way to mirror partitions? Long for a simple solution to reorganize your disk and create space for a new Linux distribution? Look no further, GParted (http://gparted.sourceforge.net) will do all this and much more. And did I mention, all this, keeping your keyboard finger-free? Find out more in Packt Columnist Mayank Sharma's interview with Patrick Verner.
Partitioning Bliss with GParted
Do you fancy keeping those MP3s into their own partition? Want to copy data residing in one disk onto another? Crave for an easier way to mirror partitions? Long for a simple solution to reorganize your disk and create space for a new Linux distribution? Look no further, GParted (http://gparted.sourceforge.net) will do all this and much more. And did I mention, all this, keeping your keyboard finger-free?
GParted or GNOME Partition Editor is an excellent tool that simplifies the challenging process of partitioning. While experienced users of Open Source Software may find various uses for GParted, for me it will always be a newbie's wonder tool. The partitioning step turns away several new users wanting to install a Linux distribution on their box unless one lets the distro take over the entire hard disk, which isn't always feasible. GParted will enable such users prepare their disks for a Linux install.
Using GParted is a no-brainer. Its Graphical User Interface (GUI) is very intuitive and may look familiar (http://gparted.sourceforge.net/screenshots.php) to someone who has used Partition Magic, its proprietary cousin. There is lots of documentation available (http://gparted.sourceforge.net/documentation.php) on the website. Linux.com also has several videos (http://www.linux.com/article.pl?sid=06/07/20/1654251) that walk through the process of shrinking a Windows partition to make room for a Linux one.
To top this, GParted's Live project (http://gparted.sourceforge.net/livecd.php) brings together the benefits of GParted in the easy to use environment of a Live CD. This takes care of the installation hassles. Download the small (~30 MB) GParted Live ISO, burn into onto a CD, reboot and presto -- GParted at your service.
The following is a conversation with Patrick Verner, the very down-to-earth, creator and maintainer of the "Live" version of GParted.
Mayank Sharma: Hello Patrick. Could you please share a little about yourself, what you do, how you got started on GParted Live, etc.
Patrick Verner: I work as a CNC machinist in the tool and die industry in
I live out in the county in a farming community with only dial-up as an option. I have a wife and two kids; a 6-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. I'm 33 if anybody cares.
I started using Linux in 2000. Over the years I've picked-up on some things and LiveCDs seemed like a fun thing to mess around with. I found GParted one day on gnomefiles.org and really liked the program. I contacted Bart Hakvoort about making a CD and that's pretty much how it got started. Our project is still the only Live CD using the latest version of GParted with all the filesystem tools out of the box. Being up to date with GParted and all the filesystem tools is really the focus of the CD.
MS: What's a Live environment? Is it beneficial to run GParted from such an environment?
PV: In this [GParted Live CD] case it's a small read-only operating system that runs without using the hard disks. If you need to resize a partition that's taking up the entire drive, a live media like this does the trick. You don't need to install anything and the hard disk isn't being used. For the most part resizing a disk in use doesn't work very well.
MS: What's the advantage of having a USB version as compared to a Live CD?
PV: If the computer doesn't have a CD ROM drive it's possible to use GParted Live USB. The little USB stick fits safely in your pocket or on your keychain.
MS: How much of the GNU parted features been implemented in GParted?
PV: Anything GNU parted can do, GParted can do. GParted actually does a lot more than GNU parted itself. There are added features for creating, copying, and resizing of NTFS, XFS, JFS, HFS, and Reiser4 filesystems. Bart Hakvoort has done an amazing job on GParted. The GNU parted people deserve most of the credit because without their hard work GParted obviously would not be.
MS: Do any distros use GParted as their partitioner? Wouldn't this be a good idea?
PV: I don't think any distros use GParted as their main partition program yet. When redundant array of inexpensive disks (RAID) and Logical Volume Manager (LVM) support are ready, I'm sure this will change. The "option" to use GParted when installing Ubuntu already exists.
MS: Why's there a lack of documentation on the Live CD as compared to the docs and guides on the website?
PV: I'm currently looking into a lightweight solution to display HTML, so we can do exactly that. Links in graphical mode seems to be the best option right now. Larry does the documentation so I'll probably adapt exactly what he has been working on.
MS: What are you working on for the next release?
PV: Adding a few extra programs for advanced users and making the CD more stable and usable. Running GParted and running it well has always been the main goal of the Live CD project. I really focus on fixing bugs from release to release. Basic local networking and Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) booting may be added sometime in the future.
MS: Do you work on GParted as well, or just focus on the Live CD and USB roll-outs?
PV: I can't write a line of C code. I plan to work on GParted with Bart when I know what I'm doing.
MS: How does GParted Live CD support its users?
PV: I have a mailing list to let people know when a new release is out. We also have a forum on our SourceForge page and I read every post.
MS: Do you get feature requests from desktop users or more of troubleshooting and bug reports from power users and developers? There seems to be quite a few discussions on the GParted forum about the LiveCD as well.
PV: Most feature requests come from power users and developers. Both report bugs. I really wish more people would help me out fixing problems. It would be nice if somebody would tell me, "Hey, you don't have blah-blah module built into the kernel." 99 per cent of the time I get e-mails telling me their "Windows XP machine" doesn't work. What do you do with that? The fun part of this project is solving the problems though.
MS: Thank you Patrick. All the very best for your project.
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Mayank Sharma is a freelance writer from New Delhi, India. He is blown away by the power of Free and Open Source Software and its usefulness to developing nations.
Check out his blog at http://www.geekybodhi.net/