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Best partition strategy

By techrepublic ·
As soon as I can get my DVDRW installed, if ever, I will be saving all my user data to DVD and upgrading from Ubuntu 5.04 to 6.10. There will be no Windoze on this computer and I would like some ideas about the best way to partition (I am still a newbie.)

I understand that Linux needs to have a boot partition (which needs to be the first partition and will hold the OS) and a swap partition as a minimum. I will have a 3rd for /home (to receive the contents of the DVD and to facilitat future upgrades) plus probably a modest FAT32 partition for easy exchange of data from Windoze computers (though I am not sure if I really need this.)

First question is should I use Ubuntu 6.10 as my partitioning tool, or gparted, or something else, and why? Am I able to 'name' the partitions (as above) during the partition process? I have had very limited experience with partitioning.

As I recall, during the partitioning process, one has to select between primary and extended. If I have no more than four partitions, is it a good idea for the 4th to be extended (for further future re-partitioning purposes)? Is the swap partition a primary partition or does it have it's own character separate from primary/extended?

Then are any other partions likely to be useful and if so, what and why? (This computer has a 40 GB hdd and is only used for word processing, spreadsheets, email, and browsing.)

Finally, what is the best order for the various partitions? Left to my own devices, and subject to replies to the previous questions, it prob will be boot, swap, home, fat32. I believe that it is mandatory for the boot partition to be the first one?

Whew! That's lots of questions and I will be grateful for your guidance.

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It doesn't have to be this complicated.

by stress junkie In reply to Best partition strategy

The Ubuntu installation would create a default partition layout. You don't have to create your own.

Linux does NOT need a separate boot partition. It can boot from the root partition. The Linux boot partition can be any partition on the disk. It doesn't have to be the first partition.

Linux does not need a swap partition but having a swap partition is recommended.

Having your data on a partition separate from the system partition is a good idea when you want to reinstall or upgrade the Linux system. It won't affect your data.

You will have no use for a FAT32 partition unless you have Windows on the same machine. You can store and copy Windows files in the Linux partition and copy them to a CDRW to move them to a Windows machine.

You can do yourself a favor by allowing the Ubuntu installer perform the disk partitioning. There is no reason to partition the disk prior to running the Ubuntu installer.

If you have four or less partitions then there is no technical reason to have an extended partition. The swap partition can be either a primary or logical partition.

There are no other kinds of disk partitions on the Wintel architecture. All you have is primary, extended, and logical partitions in an extended partition.

Generally the disk partitions are placed on the disk in the following order:

system which includes the boot files

The physical order of the partitions is not important.


Let the Ubuntu installer do the thinking for you until you learn more about Linux. These decisions are not critical. Your Linux system will work no matter how the system is laid out. Once you learn more about Linux then the reasons for making changes in disk partitions will become clear to you. These are not things that you should worry about now.

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Complicated? or just advance planning?

by techrepublic In reply to It doesn't have to be thi ...

I have used the Ubuntu installer on previous occasions and I do not recall any guidance during the partitioning process as to how many partitions other than /root and /swap and for what possible purpose. Therefore instead of simply relying on the installer again, as suggested, I thought it would be good to have a plan that allows me to use it to best advantage rather than just wind up with the two partitions that are suggested by the installer.

Previously I did not create a partition for my /home directory and now that I want to do a clean install of 6.10, that failure holds up the new install since I have not yet managed to get my /home directory copied off the computer.

Hence my questions. And thank you most kindly for a very complete and most helpful reply which greatly improves my understanding of the process. I will go with the three partitions as you suggest. (BTW, when I said /boot partition in the original post, I intended to say /root (which indeed I did think was always the linux boot partition)).

Edit: Upon further reflection, how will Ubuntu know to use the /home partition instead of a /home directory in the /root partition? If the partition is 'named' /root during the partitioning, then I can imagine that Linux will see and use it. Please clarify, thanks.

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