My wife has just acquired a Thinkpad with Windows 7 on it - she took it with her to a conference, so I don't have it in front of me. Before she left I had a quick look and it seems to have four partitions, the 100MB one, a massive "Windows" partition visible as the C drive, and *two* more-or-less hidden partitions of 30 GB or so that seem to have something to do with recovery; the first one of these appears to be a logical partition, but Windows won't let me see the extended partition within which it must surely lie. Also, the fourth partition appears to be primary - I didn't realise that was possible. That's based on Windows' own partitioning software - I didn't have time to boot live and use Linux tools to investigate further. I had to take my wife to the airport.
A lot of searching has turned up numerous quick and dirty fixes to get rid of this stuff, but I'd like to understand how it works first; my inclination is also to alter it as little as possible, because my wife will be cross if I brick her new box. I find it quite comforting to think I can return the machine to factory condition if need be - that is, the way it was in the shop.
However, if I can get at that extended partition, I'd like to shrink the main Windows partition and create some more. In fact, I already successfully shrank C:\\, but of course at the moment I can't put anything in the empty space. My favoured scheme is a small OS partition, one for Windows data, and one for backup. And maybe one more for Salix
but that's not essential because I can run rsync or whatever from a Live USB. I don't expect to use the laptop, just maintain it.
During my searching I also came across dire warnings that messing with these hidden partitions could cause a mess.
To sum up, I don't have the option of just doing a fresh install of Windows after repartitioning, because the manufacturer doesn't provide a Windows install disk. So I need to be careful.
I'd be grateful to hear any pointers anyone has! This scheme seems to be quite common nowadays on new machines, but in two or three hours of searching, I couldn't find a clear explanation of how it is supposed to work or what it's for (apart from to stop the hoi polloi dual booting with Linux