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I am new to Ubuntu and just got a new 1TB hdd, please, help me better understand partitioning at install time so to avoid problems in the future. I was planning to use:

/dev/sda1, Primary, Beginning, Ext4,        50GB   /
/dev/sda5, Logical, Beginning, SWAP,        8GB    not applicable
/dev/sda6, Logical, Begining,  Ext5,        942GB  /home

I have 4GB RAM and I would like to have my /home into a separate partition to try mitigating problems if the drive fails. Regarding the types, Primary/Logical, does it seem all right? Locations? Mount Points?

many thanks for your feedback!

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

From my experience the only one that lowers itself is SWAP depending on the amount of RAM you have. For a normal computer usage (Office stuff, gimp, music, videos, wine games..) with 4GB of RAM you have more than enough and you can put SWAP to a small size. In my case 256MB. From the 256MB i never use more than 2MB or 4MB.

That is an idea of how the SWAP would be depending on the amount of memory you have. The rule of 2x the amount of ram you have does not really apply on Linux systems. There are so optimized about this is scares me.

Going for the other 2, you have the / (root) partition and the /home (Home) partition. This is good way to go but I would suggest giving /Home about 90% of the 1TB space and the rest to /. This is because you will install many programs which will go in / but you will have songs, documents, videos and any other big files in /home. You will basically have more stuff in /home than anywhere else.

There is also the matter of having a /boot partition separated from the / one. This just helps in recovering issues and reparing boot part easier without affecting the system or you /home. Although in your case, since /home is separated from / you are safe there.

So basically:

Way 1

  • In Way 1 if you had a system problem or a boot problem everything will have the problem. You can recover from it but it will be a mess with everything in the same partition.

Way 2

  • In Way 2 you have the /Home in another place so if there is a problem with the system or boot you are safe.

Way 3

  • In Way 3 you have the /Home and /Boot in separate places. So if there is a /Boot problem then it only affects boots. If there is a system problem it only affects the system and you can still boot... weirdly but you can still do it. And as always, your /home is safe.

There are many others like creating a /media/fun partition where you will store your videos, images, etc.. Or a /home/kathy for that special girlfriend/sister/mother/godzilla you have.

At the end, the way you partition is determined by the need and the way you will use the computer.

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This is a good partitioning scheme. (I use one extra partition to allow me to install different distributions at the same time, but if you don't plan on doing that, it's unnecessary).

For posterity - make sure you're /home partition has most of the space like the OP does in most cases. /home is where your files will end up (including any large media files, which often is what takes up most space). The exception to this is if you will never be using many large files, but do plan installing very many very large programs.

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What about those Primary/Logical options? I don't understand what implications they have – Pomario Feb 24 '12 at 14:40
From a technical end, I don't know what the implications are, but from a usage standpoint, I've had the same: 1 swap, 1 primary, several logical, and have had no problems with it. – David Oneill Feb 24 '12 at 14:43

The main implication of Primary vs Logical partitions is that you can have a maximum of four primary partitions on a disk drive with mbr partitioning. So, if all you want is one Linux instalation, you can easily have primary root, swap, and home partitions. In fact, you could still use the fourth one for logical partitions for other system installations.

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