Confused by manual partition install instructions in The Manual

The Lubuntu Manual section of the website is very nice, but I recently had to do a manual partition installation for the first time and found the installation instructions in The Manual confusing. As someone who was having to learn about partitions in order to make the installation, I spent about 2 hours trying to understand the warning in The Manual that says you have to turn off swap space via a terminal command. I never did understand, decided to ignore it and go ahead, and the installation worked fine. So, I feel my time was wasted. I think the problem is that the information in the manual is not consistent with regard to the assumed skill/knowledge of the reader: most of the installation instructions seemed aimed at a low-/entry-level user like me, but not all. I recommend you either remove instructions that can be confusing to noobs like me, or give more detailed explanations and step-by-step instructions. Thanks.

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The exact quote, under the “Setting up partitions” section of Chapter 1.3 on Installation is:

If you had a previous Linux install with swap you will need to unmount the swap. To do this run

sudo swapoff -a

which will unmount them and any swap partitions. This will not work if you have data partition mounted open PCManFM-Qt and press the upward pointed arrow on each partition in the Places sidebar to unmount all data partitions.

The most important part of this is the very first clause:

If you had a previous Linux install with swap

It sounds like this conditional wasn’t applicable to you, so you could have just ignored the whole rest of that section.

Also, you say you’re a low-/entry-level user, but I wouldn’t consider manual partitioning to be something applicable to such a user. Manual partitioning means that you really short understand how file systems and disk partitioning works. If this was the case, you’d understand the very idea of making changes to a device that has a mounted partition makes no sense. This is what the above note speaks to.

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I didn’t know anything about partitions or manual installations, but the Lubuntu installer didn’t give me the Erase Disk option, only Manual Partitioning. So, I had to learn about partitions and manual partitioning installations in order to do the installation. That’s why I was reading the manual. And I don’t understand very much about it. I still don’t understand the part about unmounting the swap. Don’t all *buntu OSs use swapping now? So, what’s one without swap? And why would you have to unmount it? And does it apply only to people who are trying to save certain partitions during a manual installation, or does even apply to people who are re-formatting the entire disk space?

Again: my point is that most of the manual seems aimed at first-time users of Lubuntu, so if you include information about manual partitioning (or anything else more advanced), it should be described in a way that non-advanced users can either understand it or know whether or not to ignore it.

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If you have a disk, and you have a partition on it, and that partition is mounted, the disk is locked. You can’t make any changes to it. And if you boot a computer with a disk on it that has a swap on it, it will get automounted. Since you can’t make changes to that disk, it’s not available to the installer. So you can’t erase the disk.

Knowing that, how would you reword it?

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Knowing that, how would you reword it?

I would probably add something like:

“If you had a previous Linux install with swap you will need to unmount the swap. (If you have a disk, and you have a partition on it, and that partition is mounted, the disk is locked. You can’t make any changes to it. And if you boot a computer with a disk on it that has a swap on it, it will get automounted. Since you can’t make changes to that disk, it’s not available to the installer.) To do this run…”

Anyway, I guess I was lucky because the manual install I did was on a disk that previously had Ubuntu 14.04 with a swap partition, and the Lubuntu 20.04 installer worked even though I didn’t unmount the swap.

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@lynorian see above for a manual suggestion.

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Now I feel like I will need to check if that is still the case. I know in the past unmounting the swap was nesecary to have entire disc as an option so new users don’t have to use manual partitioning on a reinstall with a swap partition.

I do think having manual partitioning would be even harder without documentation in the manual and is hard enough to do on its own. Sometimes even advanced users will need documentation for this.

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What I’m reading is that the OP had Ubuntu 14.04 on their disk, was not offered the Erase Disk option (assumedly because of the automounted swap), and opted for Manual Partitioning. That is totally expected behavior.

The manual attempts to ensure that the far more foolproof Erase Disk option is available by having folks unmount old swaps and the like.

Perhaps I can be a little more systematic about this:

  • If you do not have a previous install on the disk, the Erase Disk and Manual Partitioning options are given.
  • If you have a previous install on the disk and do nothing, only the Manual Partioning option is given.
  • If you have a previous install on the disk and unmount swaps, the Erase Disk and Manual Partitioning options are given.

Put another way, Manual Partitioning is always an option. But like lyn said, it’s easy to screw up.

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