[conspire] request verification of plans to partition and format external hard drive

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Jul 20 15:27:39 PDT 2007

Quoting Darlene Wallach (freepalestin at dslextreme.com):

> I have a 160G external firewire hard drive.

Lucky you.

> 1. Should I make 2 partitions?
>     - one for data - all the rest for data
>     - one for swap - how much swap?
> 2. Can I make one big data partition?

That's certainly the easiest option, and is perfectly OK as a starting
point pending you developing your own strong opinions about partitioning
practices and going around advocating them.[1]  ;->

> 3. Does it matter which I partition first? I was
>     planning on putting data on 1st with swap at
>     the end.

There might be a slight performance advantage in putting the swap near
the _front_ of the drive, in such a two-partition configuration -- on
grounds of minimising average seek distance (and thus seek time).  This
is one of the many, many points of dispute sysadmins happily argue
about, for hours on end.

> 4. Since I may use this external drive for data, I plan
>     on using ext3. Is that a good plan?

Sure.  ext3 is a fine general-purpose filesystem for Linux.

> 5. Should I use the "s" option in fdisk to create a new
>     empty Sun disklabel vs "n" for add a new partition?

For use on Linux, it's better to create the IBM/Microsoft-style "PC"
partition table that results from using the "n" command and avoiding
creating a Sun (or BSD) disklabel.  

On an earlier incarnation of linuxmafia.com, I _accidentally_ had a BSD
disklabel rather than a "PC" partition table on the 2nd hard drive for a
couple of years, because that drive had recently had FreeBSD on it.
Linux seemed to _mostly_ deal with that transparently, though there were
a few operational oddnesses that I thought _might_ have traced back to
the non-standard partition table, so I eliminated that variable when I
rebuilt the box.

[1] http://shearer.org/Linux_Server_Partitioning  <= Dan Shearer
    http://linuxmafia.com/faq/Admin/nix-partitioning.html <= Karsten M. Self

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