Tips for Disk Partitioning in Linux

By Detector | 07 December 2012

Disk partitioning is the process of dividing the storage space of a hard disk into smaller bits and treating them as separate disks. There are a lot of advantages to partitioning disks, for example, if your disk goes corrupt, then you will lose all the data that you had saved on it, on the other hand, if you divide your hard disk into several partitions and experience disk corruption, only the partitions will be lost and remaining data can be saved.

Similarly, you can install only one operating system on a disk. If you want to boot into multiple operating systems, then the boot record has to be installed on different partitions. Linux for example, uses a very different file system (a file system is basically an algorithm that the operating systems use to read and write data on the memory sectors present in a storage device). If you want to dual boot Windows and Linux, then you need to partition the hard disk. Here, we see the methods and tips for partitioning hard disks in Linux.

Linux is an open source operating system, which means that almost every single application and tool that runs on it is either free and available on the public domain or available under the General Public License. Basically, there are two ways in which the hard disk can be partitioned under Linux, one is for storage and the other is for swap memory. Under Windows, when the main memory or RAM is full, a process known as paging occurs, where the data is written to the hard drive and accessed from there. Windows uses the same drive where the master boot record is saved for paging. Under Linux, you need to partition the hard disk and dedicate it for paging, this drive is known as swap partition. As a general rule, the size of the swap partition should be twice that of the RAM available on the computer.

To partition a disk under Linux, you can either use the Terminal window if you are comfortable with Linux commands or use GUI applications like KDE Partition Manager. Usually, when you install Linux, you’d be asked to partition the hard disk. You will have to allot space for three partitions. We discussed about swap partition, the other two are root and home. Root partition is where the operating system and the related files are stored and it is a good idea to size this partition at 10GB or more. Even though the footprint of the operating system will not exceed 6 or 7 GB, it is better to allocate 10GB at the least. The next is the home partition; this is where the user data and the files of each user will be saved. This partition can be as big as you can afford.

All of these three partitions can be allocated in the graphical interface that the installer throws up. Like I said, you can also use the fdisk command under the Terminal window to partition the disk. Since disk partitioning is an administrator level operation, you need pseudo rights and you will have to remember that if you resize a partition, then the data that is already present on the disk will be deleted and there is no possible way to recover it.

These are the basic tips for partitioning a disk under Linux and I hope it helped.

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