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January 13, 2017

Partitioning Advice - Dual boot Win10 + Linux + KVM for additional distros

I’m installing Linux on my new Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga. In case it matters:

Intel Core i7-6600U MB
16GB LPDDR3 SDRAM 1866 MB
1TB SSD PCIe-NVMe
14.0 OLED WQHD Touch

My plan is to dual-boot Windows 10 (required for work) and Linux (Arch). Within Linux, I want to run multiple distros via KVM, as much as a hobby/learning exercise re: different distros as anything else.

I intend my primary day-to-day O/S to be one of the distros running in KVM. For my purposes, slight performance loss via KVM vs. bare metal should be acceptable. So, the bare-metal Arch install is just a host for KVM. It will be a minimal install to support KVM (with graphic interface). I’m leaning toward the LTS kernel, figuring don’t fix what isn’t broken. I’ll break things in the KVM installs.

My current partitions:

ESP: 260MB (pre-installed by Windows)
Windows: 200GB (shrunk from Windows install)
Data: 700GB (EXT4)
Linux: 20GB (LVM: LV1: 10GB – root, LV2: 10GB – home. Both LV's are EXT4).
Windows Recovery: 1000MB

plus a couple small Microsoft reserved partitions as part of the Windows install. I assume they are for sector alignment, and I'm not touching them.

I have a QNAP NAS which could help with file sharing with Windows, although I’m not sure just how much I’ll need to share with Windows – I’m hopeful that audio/video/pictures/other large files/etc. can all be served from Linux applications. Of course an NTFS USB drive is an option as well.

Sorry for the prologue, my questions are:

1.Any flaws with this plan? Is this approach as good as any other? (vs. say, multi-booting 10+ distros?)

2.Should I format the Data partition EXT4 or NTFS to allow sharing with Windows? I’m aware of some drivers available for Windows that allow reading EXT4, but I’m not sure how reliable they are?

3.Corollary to #2: How is Linux performance NTFS vs EXT4? I’m thinking EXT4 would be better for the KVM virtual disks instead of NTFS. I intend to have all my “data” in the one 700GB partition, including the KVM virtual disks.

4.Is EXT4 a good file system for a PCIe-NVMe SSD? Anything I should be aware of with my plan with respect to Linux + PCIe-NVMe SSD (alignment??? discard???)

5.I don’t see any value in making the Data partition LVM within a larger Linux partition, and I’m sure Windows wouldn’t be able to see an LVM partition. Since my Arch host install is minimal, I figure the Data partition is just “the rest of the drive” and won’t need resizing. Do you agree?

6.Is Wayland far enough along that it could be the display server for KVM in the Arch host install?

Apologies for the length, thanks for any advice you choose to provide.

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