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What's your recommendation on drive partitioning schemes for a desktop and home server?

I am going to teach myself to administer linux. I want to be able to run both windows and linux. Before I install ubuntu on my laptop, I was wondering if I should partition my drive first, and if so how much room is recommended?

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marked as duplicate by Jorge Castro, Javier Rivera, fossfreedom May 25 '12 at 9:04

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

I am going to teach myself to administer linux. I want to be able to run both windows and linux. Before I install ubuntu on my laptop, I was wondering if I should partition my drive first, and if so how much room is recommended?

Your question as currently asked is impossible to answer in any way other than by guessing at might be "good" for you. I can tell you that you can install Ubuntu in as small as a 4.5 GB partition with no swap space, if you want to do that.

You provided no information about what type of a computer you are using. Factors such as how much RAM it has and how large the hard drive is would help us to provide better recommendations.

It would also help to have more specifics about what you think you might do after you have installed Ubuntu. If all you want to do is learn how to "administer" Ubuntu, then perhaps all you need is a 4.5 GB partition.

If your computer has hardware support for virtualization then I would recommend that you completely avoid doing a dual-boot. Instead run Ubuntu inside a virtual machine using, for example, VirtualBox, installed under Windows.

In my opinion, using Ubuntu installed in a VM provides a better learning environment.

One advantage is that while you are still learning how to use Ubuntu you can also work in parallel in the Windows environment you are already familiar with. This actually speeded up the learning process for me.

Another advantage is that you don't have to change the partitioning of your drive. A VM uses a virtual hard disk drive (VHDD) which is, essentially, just a very large Windows file. Also, a VHDD can be dynamic meaning the file increases in size only as you use more disk space within the virtual machine. This makes more efficient use of your hard drive.

But the main advantage of using a VM such as VirtualBox as a learning aid would have to be snapshots. A snapshot captures the the current state of a virtual machine and its virtual hard drives. If you make a change that breaks something, you can completely undo it and return to the previous state of your VM simply by restoring the snapshot.

Snapshots allow you to freely and painlessly experiment. For example, you could

  • Experiment with adding, deleting or modifying system settings.
  • Experiment with adding, deleting or modifying users or user privileges.
  • Experiment with the partitioning tools.
  • Experiment with installing multiple copies of Ubuntu. Or of Windows alongside Ubuntu.
  • Experiment with the different install options for Ubuntu.
  • and so forth ...

My point is that you can do all of the above without worrying about destroying your install because you can always restore a snapshot you took earlier to completely undo any changes you might have made.

Completely overwrote something on your VHDD and made it unbootable? Restore the snapshot and it never happened.

And while you are doing any of the above, you can also do something in Windows. For example, if you start an install of Ubuntu inside a VM, you don't have to twiddle your thumbs while waiting for it to complete. You can do something else in Windows while you VM completes the install.

But, unfortunately, using a virtual machine only makes sense if your hardware provides support for it and you have enough RAM to allow you to run two operating systems at the same time. You did not tell us anything about your laptop so there is no way of knowing if this would work for you or not.

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Using a VM is much better for learning Linux administration. You will probably mess up the install more than once and you really don't want to do a full install on a partition every time. Doing an install on a partition requires you to be very careful making the right choices and clicking the right buttons. If you don't you may wipe out your Windows install. Using a VM makes experimenting much safer at a slight performance hit. You still have the choice of installing on a partition too, just do your experiments in a VM. – jippie May 24 '12 at 20:20

In the most general use case, you would need two different partitions, for installing Ubuntu. A swap partition is very much advised if you need the hibernate feature[You need to enable it manually in Ubuntu 12.04] or if your RAM is below 8GB.

  • The /(root) partition [It contains all the installation files, applications, etc..].
  • The swap partition(like Virtual memory in Windows)

As to how much space is to be allocated for each and as to how to do it, please refer this post with the exact details and screenshots of the steps to be followed-

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While having a dedicated swap partition is a good idea and recommended as well, but since its Linux and everything is possible, one can easily create an empty file in Ubuntu partition itself and use it as Swap memory, without bothering to create new partition just for Swap. – Kushal May 24 '12 at 18:40
Also, while Ubuntu needs its own partitions (or at least a / partition) unless it's running in a Wubi system or a virtual machine, you do not actually have to create them manually to install Ubuntu. The Ubuntu installer will automatically shrink existing partitions and make new ones, if you ask it to. – Eliah Kagan May 24 '12 at 19:11
Just always be sure to make backups when installing to a partition. – jippie May 24 '12 at 20:23
More importantly, you should make sure your backups (which you should have anyway, of any documents or any other data that are difficult to replace) are current when creating new partitions, and especially when resizing existing partitions, because if there is a problem (e.g., power failure) or you make a mistake, you could lose data in your partitions. – Eliah Kagan May 24 '12 at 20:38

Yes. You must have to create a separate partition(not a drive) for ubuntu installation. Room size is up to you. If are planning to use it for long time give some 40GB space. When you install ubuntu it will ask for a partition and select the new partition.

PS: You must not keep any data/files inside that new partition thinking it can be accessed once you are done with ubuntu installation. It will be formatted into a new file system itself. (You may know this but just in case if you don't note this down.)

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@EliahKagan I think he meant to say Ubuntu must be installed to a "separate partition", not drive. He just forgot and used the wrong term. However, I have no idea at all what he is trying to say in his second paragraph. Oh, well. – irrational John May 24 '12 at 19:46
@irrationalJohn The second paragraph is saying that if you make a partition for Ubuntu and put files in it, and then install Ubuntu, the files you put in it can be destroyed, since the partition is likely formatted during installation. If you want to edit this post for clarity and to fix the problem with partition/drive, you have my encouragement! (And you can flag my comments here obsolete afterwards.) Just remember that another problem with this answer, in its present form, is that it suggests you need to have multiple partitions set up before installing Ubuntu, which is not the case. – Eliah Kagan May 24 '12 at 20:37
@EliahKagan I started an edit but abandoned it when I felt I was re-writing more than I was editing. (I do not want to say something which the originator never meant to say.) Thanks for the clarification about the 2'nd paragraph. Perhaps s/he did not recall that it is possible to install without reformatting? (... which apparently is how one does a re-install?) – irrational John May 24 '12 at 21:53
@irrationalJohn Well, you can only install without reformatting if you start out with a partition type supported for installing Ubuntu. If you start out with an NTFS or FAT32 partition, it has to be reformatted because the partition type has to be changed. – Eliah Kagan May 24 '12 at 22:48
@Idi0t Thx for editing. But this answer still makes it sound like you have to actually create a partition for Ubuntu before you run the installer, which is not the case (and most users reading this should probably not do that, but instead let Ubuntu's installer dynamically repartition automatically). – Eliah Kagan May 25 '12 at 2:42

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