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  1. #1
    How much disk space do I need to run 3 operating systems?
    I'll be getting me a macbook air, but I can't tell if I actually need the 256gb SSD, or if I can make do with the 128gb one. I don't know if the 8gigs of ram are necessary either.

    What I want is to be able to natively boot into 3 operating systems, a linux distribution, mac os, and windows. I know emulation is pretty good and I will generally be using that, but I'm studying computer science and sometimes emulation adds a wild card and introduces behaviour which can result in unpredictable things and wrong conclusions...something I have already experienced with previous machines.

    I have my eye on VMware fusion because it's cheap and because of how well it looks like it integrates with Mac OS. Ideally, I want to run both windows and linux on demand, so I also need to know if fusion actually supports this for whatever linux distro I end up using.

    What I was thinking was, section the SSD into a 32 gig partition for linux, a 32 gig partition for windows, and a 64 gig partition for mac os.

    Is that enough? This is a computer for schoolwork. I might want to run league of legends on the Windows partition, or potentially a bit of minecraft, but I think that's it. Everything else will be either programming or programs or virtual machines or data files. I have a bigass stationary for my entertainment.

    Oh, and please don't tell me to get the 256gb one to 'be safe'. I don't have a lot of money. I'm a student; I'm much much safer with some money in my pocket than with a harddrive that I never use more than 30% of.

    That said, I would absolutely love some advice from someone who's triple-booted with a similar type of setup.

  2. #2
    How much disk space do I need to run 3 operating systems?
    chscag's Avatar
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    I realize it's expensive ordering a larger SSD but I really don't think a 128 GB SSD is going to be sufficient to run 3 operating systems even if they're being run as virtual machines. Likewise with the memory... order the 8 GB.

    If you really want an Air instead of a MBP, order the 256 GB SSD and 8 GB of memory. I would also order the external optical drive which will make it a lot easier to install Linux and Windows, although they both can be installed from a flash drive.

  3. #3
    First off, thanks for the advice, but it's not really what I'm looking for.

    I'm not sure you heard me: I'm poor. Getting the upgrades from Apple will make me _more_ poor. I'm buying this machine with borrowed money; every cent will need to be paid for with sweat from my brow sometime down the line.

    You say you don't think it's going to be sufficient. Why is that? Windows takes 18 gigs. My programs folders take up 6 gigs, and my user files take up 4 gigs. This on a stationary windows machine that has been running for 6 months on it's current system drive. So, ok, maybe I'll need 40 gigs, maybe 45 if I buy 8gigs of ram for an 8 gig swap file. But that still leaves 50 for mac os x.

    I mean, do you have personal experience with the 3 operating systems, can you give me an estimate on the amount of space taken by them?

    I'm not looking for someone to give me an excuse to splurge here. I'm looking for someone to say, look, I realize you might think you can make do with 40 gigs for windows, 30 for linux, and 58 for mac os, but you can't, and here's why.

    Or conversely, for someone to say, oh, well that looks about alright, I run my setup like that. Same thing with the ram. And I have plenty of time, and I'm not exactly a noob with computers. I already have a bachelor in computer science, I know my way around both mac and a few linux distros and windows, but I don't have any concrete experience with the type of setup I'm describing. That's why I need advice.

    And no, I won't be getting the optical drive. I have a 16 gb flash stick, and I have a usb dvd drive, and I have friends who have macs. If I can't make it work without an external optical drive, noone can, and I'm given to understand some are able to make do, so I'm confident I will be able to too.

    Also, consider that I live in Denmark. The price for a macbook air with the options you describe, along with apple care, is 15400 danish kroner, before student rebate. Even though student rebate makes a significant dent, bringing the price down to 13000 or so, 13000 danish kroner is still a beyond the pale 2550 US Dollars.

    A more baseline model, 128gb ssd, 4gb ram, no initial apple care clocks in at 1477,15 US dollars. The applecare plan, on top of that, would be another 300 bucks, but I have no idea whether that's worth it.

    It would absolutely be worth it if I lived in the US, due to the crummy 1 year limited warranty you guys get, but in the EU you're guaranteed a 2 year warranty that protects you from faults that were caused by Apple; I don't know how Applecare coverage works, but unless it covers accidents or faults caused by incorrect use, I'm actually inclined to keep my 300...

    But either way, as you can see, it's a lot of money. So while I really do appreciate the advice, I'm going to have to insist that it be a little more concrete, or that you explain what kind of experience you have at least.

  4. #4
    How much disk space do I need to run 3 operating systems?
    osxx's Avatar
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    Its simple OS updates take up space along with applications you eventually want or need plus you need extra space for the system to keep up good housekeeping and in this day and time that usually equates to a minimum of 100GB per OS or at least thats been my experience.

  5. #5
    Alright, what is your experience then? Do you dual-use operating systems? Triple use?
    And what do you use your mac for? Is it your only system?

    I already have a lovingly put together PC; the SSD in it is an older 75gi intel one, but it's still **** snappy. I don't have room for more than 4-5 'large' PC games on the SSD, but if I discount those, and if I discount media files, it's 30 gigs current usage. The entirety of my college work for my bachelor fits in less than 5 gigabytes, if I discount the 3d animation course I have taken.

    Maybe I'm asking the wrong question. How much space does you application folder on your mac partition take, discounting games. How much space does the operating system take. How much does your programs folder, discounting games, take on windows?

    What exactly are these programs you speak of? And housekeeping? What do you mean housekeeping? How does housekeeping take up drive space?

    I mean, sure, I would need a 256gb drive if I had a music library and a video library I wanted to keep on the computer, but I don't. I have a 32 gig iphone, that's what I use for music, and if I want videoes I'll either stream them or download them and then delete them; it's a crummy little 13" screen anyway, I have a 2terabyte system at home with a 27" monitor that I archive stuff on.

    Look, I'm sorry, and again, I'm thankful for any advice, but are you sure you understand my use case?

  6. #6
    How much disk space do I need to run 3 operating systems?
    osxx's Avatar
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    I don't game on any of my computers but I do have music,photos,files,PDF's and various apps
    and OSX is my main computer with 175GB used while Windows 7 is at 80GB used and Ubuntu is at 60GB used but then this is just how I have stored things which would be different than you are anyone else.
    The bottom line is we all use more space over time than we thought we would if you use it at all.

  7. #7
    That's true, and I get that, but then that's probably your main computer, yeah?

    I mean, I plan on keeping my school projects with me at all times, and whatever hobby programs I'm developing...and I guess, you know, some software development tools might take up significant chunks of space. I could totally see that surprising me; I don't know how large the IOS emulator is, I might want that, and maybe 30 or so tutorial videoes going through development of various things.

    So I'm completely open to the possibility that there might be a very good reason 128 gigs isn't enough for my specific use case. And I would absolutely loathe running up against the limit because freeing up disk space is the most boring job known to man.

    At any rate, a friend of mine just bought one so I'm curious to see how quickly he fills it out.

  8. #8
    How much disk space do I need to run 3 operating systems?
    chscag's Avatar
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    It appears you're determined to buy the basic Air and run three operating systems on it. We're just giving you our opinions based on experience. If you don't want to accept that, then go ahead and make the purchase. Just keep in mind that once you buy the Air the memory can not be upgraded. You can upgrade the flash drive later on but upgrades are expensive.

    OS X space usage = 80 GB

    Windows 7 space usage = 40 GB for 32 bit, 50 - 60 GB for 64 bit.

    Linux Ubuntu space usage = 30 GB

    Your personal usage could be less or more.

  9. #9
    How much disk space do I need to run 3 operating systems?
    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mads View Post
    I'll be getting me a macbook air, but I can't tell if I actually need the 256gb SSD, or if I can make do with the 128gb one. I don't know if the 8gigs of ram are necessary either.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mads View Post
    First off, thanks for the advice, but it's not really what I'm looking for.

    I'm not sure you heard me: I'm poor. Getting the upgrades from Apple will make me _more_ poor. I'm buying this machine with borrowed money; every cent will need to be paid for with sweat from my brow sometime down the line.
    Let me throw a little bit of advice your way. If you are as "poor" as you say you are...you really shouldn't be purchasing a new computer...especially one with an SSD. The MacBook Air is an expensive computer (for what you get)...it's not expandable)...and the SSD in it is expensive.

    You would be MUCH better off buying an older MacBook Pro with a traditional HD. A used computer (or maybe refurbished) will:

    - greatly reduce the initial purchase price
    - you will get MUCH more storage space from a traditional HD
    - you will be able to upgrade the ram & HD in the future as necessary

    "Poor People" don't buy MacBook Air's...and usually "Poor People" don't buy brand new computers! How are you going to feel in 2 years when your new computer is only worth 50-60% of what you paid for it.

    Buy a 2 year-old computer...for 50-60% of it's original price!

    If you had a bigger budget...sure...buy a new computer! But with a small budget (and it's difficult to get that money together)...buy something used!

    - Nick
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    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
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  10. #10
    How much disk space do I need to run 3 operating systems?
    IvanLasston's Avatar
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    It all depends on what you are doing with your partitons. If you are developing like you mentioned - then developer tools and developer projects can take a lot of space. Figure ~2GB per OS development system. Any Office programs run ~1GB each.

    I had partitioned my drive 250/250GB for bootcamp but found that was way too much for the Windows Drive if I wasn't gaming. I got away with 60GB and storing all files on the Mac partition. The VM of Linux I have is around 60GB but I run engineering software which takes ~5GB of install and the data files can be 1GB each. Not everyone runs engineering software so you could probably get away with a much smaller partition.

    From a pure OS standpoint
    OSX Lion ~8GB
    Windows 7 ~16GB
    Ubuntu Linux ~5GB (Depending on how much you like to hack you can get this way down)
    That is the base install size of each - and all of them need some swap/disk space to run properly. Generally about double your RAM size - but you might be able to get away with equal to your RAM size.

    I have tried doing 40GB partitions for everything but found with updates and just general running I run out of space very quickly on such a small partition. ~1 year and I am moving stuff around. 60GB/OS seems to be OK if you aren't doing anything fancy but development falls under fancy in my book.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    It appears you're determined to buy the basic Air and run three operating systems on it. We're just giving you our opinions based on experience. If you don't want to accept that, then go ahead and make the purchase
    Maybe I've expressed myself poorly; it's my mistake if I have.
    I'm not determined to buy a basic Air. If I were, I'd buy a basic air. And I'm sorry if it seems like I don't respect your opinions.

    But I know as much as anyone what it's like to want the best option. To want the top of the line. I get geek crushes all the time on beautiful design and kit. And I know, to someone who's really invested in a product or type of product, you will be a connoseur, and you will rightly put a high value on things because they're worth a lot to you. Two years ago, for that reason, I bought a 5.1 surround system, and you know, I didn't get 5 times the speakers for 5 times the price. Audiophile hifi forumers were both the best source of information, but also the worst at understanding what was worthwhile to new entrants into that product line.
    I got everything at a steal, bought it at about 30% of the retail cost for a system that was only about a year old.

    And yet, it turns out, it wasn't actually worth it for my use. It's clearly very solid, and at a very competetive price, and when I watch game of thrones in surround it really is pretty sweet to have audio effects, music and vocals coming from seperate speakers, but in the end, the price was still too high for what I get out of it.

    What I'm determined to do is to not buy a laptop with extra disk space, and then see that space never being put to use. That's really all there is to it. The most expensive tech equipment is that which you buy and don't use.

    I'm sorry if that makes me seem stubborn, or ungrateful, or like I won't listen to reason. And trust me, I know that end users of a tech product are the absolutely best people to advice me about it. They cut through all the potential sales bs. I can trust them to be honest, and to try to help me make the best purchase. I just don't always trust them to be able to understand me or my situation fully. I hope that clears up why I made the thread and what I hope to gain from it: I know that I don't know what I would like to know, and that you guys can probably help me.

    @pigoo3
    Well, here's the thing about buying computers: They're the most expensive when they aren't any bloody good ! Maybe it's not right to say that I'm poor. Maybe I should say, I have to be really responsible with how I use my money. I do have the money for an air - and if I don't go visit my sister in the fall and just call her more often instead, I have the money for the bigger SSD too. I mean, that's what we're talking about here.

    In the grand scheme, I can get what I need, I just need to be frugal in other places. And what I need is a good laptop. I wouldn't be buying apple unless I believed they made really good laptops more comptetetively priced than everybody else.

    But I took your advice: I've had a look at used macbook pro's.

    Here's what I found: A mid 2010 13" model, juster under 2 years old at 5800 DKR, 4 gigabytes of ram, 250gb harddisk, 2.4ghz core 2 duo. Anything cheaper is older...and if I want one of the i5 models, we're talking about 7000+ DKR, and it will assuredly be a 15 incher. The new air in it's base configuration is 9000DKR or so.

    Here's what I get for getting a new air compared to the 13" MBP:
    - Battery that lasts 5 times as long
    - At least twice the CPU performance
    - Instant on, and massively faster disk
    - 2 years of warranty
    - Silent operation
    - 2 pounds less of dead weight
    - No dents

    Now you can argue back and forth with yourself about whether it's worth it to go for the upgrade, but I think it is. I could certainly get a 4 years old machine instead, that clocks in at around 3.5k to 4k, but then the battery will be so worn that I can get maybe 45 minutes out of it, and it'll have to be big and heavy and noisy to have anything resembling the performance I can get from a new air...and who knows how long before the LCD panel or motherboard breaks. Plus, older, used macs are still regarded highly on the used market, so it may well have been traded several times, with the wear and tear that brings.

    @ Ivan Lasston and everybody who responded with more specific space usage
    Hrm. Your experience and usage sounds like it's very similar to what I would be using.

    **** it. Looks like I'll be getting the 256gb size disk =[

    That's 70 for linux, windows and mac, and 46 for a fat32 storage partition (which to my understanding, all OS's can read, right?)

  12. #12
    How much disk space do I need to run 3 operating systems?

    Member Since
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    I have personal experience with having multiple OS's. I currently have Windows 7 and OS X on my computer right now. I have 120GB put into my windows partition. I recently had to go through and delete some files because I almost ran out of space. I have about 3 games installed and some basic applications. No documents or anything. I went through and uninstalled some unnecessary applications. I now have about 58GB free now meaning I am using about 62GB. I really wish I actually would have put more space into the partition. I really don't think you will have enough space with a 128GB SSD. That's about 40GB a OS (like I said I am using about 62GB now). and the OS will take about 15GB to 20GB leaving you with 20GB free. Now when you transfer your files. You'll have about 10GB or less free. You need about 10% to 20% (which is about 8GB) free for optimal performance.

    By the way, a good way to save money is to upgrade the hard drive or RAM yourself. You can get hardware of off newegg.com and save a lot of money.

    Hope this helped!
    Good luck!

  13. #13
    How much disk space do I need to run 3 operating systems?
    Jaygray's Avatar
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    IMHO, if you get the 128gb, you will regret it. Spring for the 256gb or opt for a 500gb MBP instead.

    Also, consider a refurb model. I just picked up this exact one last week. It's lightning quick and I love it. MBA i7 4gb, 256gb for $1199. Same price as the new model w/ 128gb. Refurbished MacBook Air 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 - Apple Store (U.S.)

  14. #14
    How much disk space do I need to run 3 operating systems?
    robduckyworth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mads View Post
    Maybe I've expressed myself poorly; it's my mistake if I have.
    I'm not determined to buy a basic Air. If I were, I'd buy a basic air. And I'm sorry if it seems like I don't respect your opinions.

    But I know as much as anyone what it's like to want the best option. To want the top of the line.

    I'm sorry if that makes me seem stubborn, or ungrateful, or like I won't listen to reason. And trust me, I know that end users of a tech product are the absolutely best people to advice me about it.
    You are receiving FREE advice from some very experienced Mac users who a regular members here. Many of us have triple booted operating systems/run virtualisation programs. I dont understand how thats anything less than "top of the line" knowledge. Either accept their advice and discuss it, or move on. Don't dismiss someone trying to help you out of their own time, as "second rate" opinion.

    Anyway - 32GB max for an OS and you are gonna find yourself pushed for space real soon, if you are gonna be using it a lot. Best bet is getting an external drive for all data that is not nessecary to be on the boot drive.
    If you find a post helpful, don't forget to use the reputation system (top right of post.)
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  15. #15
    How much disk space do I need to run 3 operating systems?
    dtravis7's Avatar
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    To add to Robs excellent post, 5 Times the battery life with an Air over an MBP? That is a FLAT OUT Falseshood. I have seen MBP get 6 hours or more. FIVE times battery life would be 30 Hours. NO COMPUTER gets 30 Hours. NONE. Maybe in standby! Read the Air review on Anandtech where he compares battery life to a MBP and others. You will find that is totally untrue.

    2X CPU performance? Dream on. Maybe 30% more in tests\ depending on the CPU in the MBP and the Air. You do realize 2x is 2times faster. That would be a 100% increase in every benchmark or application.

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