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

Daniel Gimpelevich daniel at gimpelevich.san-francisco.ca.us
Fri Jul 20 18:33:39 PDT 2007

Rick Moen <rick <at> linuxmafia.com> writes:

> Quoting Darlene Wallach (freepalestin <at> dslextreme.com):
> > 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]  ;->

Fedora is considerably less than 100% immune to the need to reinstall from 
scratch on an upgrade, which would make such a setup far less optimal than the 
same setup on, for example, Debian. Ultimately, it's just a matter of personal 

> > 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.

For the same reasons, if you have multiple partitions that all get accessed a 
lot, swap would be better placed in the middle.

> > 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.

Yes, and so is JFS, which rivals it in maturity. ZFS holds a lot of promise, 
but in the Linux world, it's largely still vaporware.

> > 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.

Interesting story, which could be repeated with the use of the "n" command. Of 
course, "o" is the correct command to use.

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