[conspire] Comments on setting up disk partitions.

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Apr 8 01:43:05 PDT 2009

Quoting Paul Zander (paulz at ieee.org):

> To summarize, I understand Rick to be suggesting partitions set up like:

Hi, Paul.  That quasi-table of data came out formatted in a very
peculiar manner.  It's like you were trying to paste from a spreadsheet
or something, and ended up turning rows into columns and indented
everything with a bunch of tab characters.  I'm going to try to fix that
presentation on the fly, for you.

Just so you know, tabs don't really work in e-mail (and it's proverbial
to speak of "tab damage" when people try to use them there).  The
assumption is that lines do and should consist of 80 monospaced 
character slots, each ended by a hard return.  You may have a difficult
time correctly reading e-mail, as it looks like you're using some sort
of webmail thing.  Oh well.

I've also corrected your typo of "NTSF" to "NTFS" (New Technology File

> Device      Size(GB) Type   Mountpoint within Linux
> /dev/sda1   300      NTFS   /windows
> /dev/sda2     2      swap   n/a
> /dev/sda3   100      ext3   /
>              98             None -- unallocated
> total sda:  500
> Device      Size(GB) Type   Mountpoint within Linux 		
> /dev/sdb1     2      swap   n/a
> /dev/sdb2   100      ext3   /usr
>              98             None -- unallocated
> total sdb:  200
> Device      Size(GB) Type   Mountpoint within Linux
> /dev/sdc1     2      swap   n/a
> /dev/sdc2    20      ext3   /var
>              98             None -- unallocated
> total sdc:  120 

Er, that's approximately what I wrote, yes.

> What I would want to change is to also partition the Windoz stuff. 
> The basic XP only takes about 6 GB.  Keeping data in separate
> partitions makes it easier to identify what to back up, and also makes
> it a bit more tolerant of system crashes.  (See my comments in the
> original posting.)

As you wish.  As you may or may not know, exceeding four partitions 
on a physical drive requires using a hack where one of the partition
entries in the main partition table (entries 1-4) gets a flag called
the "extended" flag, which is read as meaning that "I'm a container
partition, which will be subdivided via a subsidiary partition table in
sectore zero of the space I specify."  Those subsidiary partitions
within, say, "extended partition" /dev/sda4, then get device names 
/dev/sda5, etc.  In the example above, you would (in your partitioning 
utility) first devote the entire remainder of the 500 GB SATA 
drive to /dev/sda4 as a partition of type "extended".  Then, you would
create new partitions within that space of type "logical", and they
would become /dev/sda5, /dev/sda6, etc.

This hack was necessary because the MBR data format (the Master Boot
Record being where the primary partition table live) didn't anticipate
the need for more than four filesystems.  Therefore, it is of fixed
size:  four entries of 16 bytes each.

I'm sympathetic of what you say you want to achieve.  Back in dinosaur 
days when I last ran MS-Windows on my own machine (Windows for
Workgroups 3.11), I had a system (MS-Windows) partition, then one
for applications, then one for data files.  And I remember it being a
constant struggle to force badly designed applications to put their 
pieces where I wanted them.  I'm pretty sure it's gotten more 
difficult still, over the years.

> So, I would follow the suggestions for the Linux partitions, but
> reduce the size of /windows and add some more NTFS partitions.

Sounds good.

I'm not even going to try to reformat your revised table of data, 
because removing the tab damage and reformatting your text was a good
bit of work the first time.  However:

> 			/dev/sda1
> 			20
> 			NTSF
> 			/windows
> 			C:
> 			/dev/sda2
> 			2
> 			swap
> 			n/a
> 			/dev/sda3
> 			100
> 			ext3
> 			/
> 			/dev/sda4
> 			200
> 			NTSF
> 			/win_data_backup
> 			yes
> 			/dev/sda5
> 			150
> 			ext3
> 			<Linux_backup>

Um, nope.  You missed the significance of my mentioning (earlier) that
it was a good thing we were able to stick to no more than four 
filesystems per drive, because it decomplicated things by letting 
us stick solely to _primary_ partitions.

What you'd be looking at would be more like:

Device      Size(GB) Type     Category  Mountpoint within Linux
/dev/sda1    20      NTFS     primary   /windows
/dev/sda2     2      swap     primary   not applicable
/dev/sda3   100      ext3     primary   /
/dev/sda4  ~378       -       extended  not applicable 
/dev/sda5   200      NTFS     logical   /win_data_backup
/dev/sda6   150      ext3     logical   (somewhere: Linux backup)
            ~28                         (unallocated)
total sda:  500

Note the tilde, meaning approximately.  In my earlier posting, I used
the expression "rest" (rest of that physical drive) quite deliberately 
and for a good reason:  You might _think_ there's exactly, unambiguously
500 GB of space on your SATA drive, but that often turns out to be not
exactly true when you're in a partitioning program.  So, above, "~378" 
really means _the rest_.  "~28" really means _the rest_.  However much
is available.

Mountpoints can be pretty nearly whatever and wherever you please, by
the way.  It's just the name of an attachment point, where a second
filesystem grafts onto (mounts onto) another, e.g., onto the root

I'm going to skip whatever it was you attempted to write about sdb and sdc:  
The bizarre vertical table formatting makes it damned near impossible to
read.  If it's important, you should (please) try again in real ASCII
plaintext without the tab damage and weird vertical stacking.

Just a suggestion:  If you're going to spend much time around mailing
lists interacting with technical people, you might want to lose the
really bad habit of quoting the entire previous thread below your
posting.  Yes, I know it's a default mode of many e-mail programs
including popular webmail systems.  That doesn't make it any better.

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