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I have a few questions regarding installation. I have a 500g HD on my laptop. I dont intend on dual-booting on this thing. I intend you use it for development. I decided to get back into programming after a decade, java, android apps, basically open source stuff. All I intend to have on this laptop is Ubuntu,eclipse and whatever else imay need for development. I would like to have some space on my disk that can be access from my Windows7 box. There will more than likely be mp3's, video and PDF/eBooks on it. So , i guess what I need to know is

how much space i should use for ubuntu. which partitions should i create. should I let ubuntu only create the default 2, or should i customize the install using the info in the "The Directory Tree" section in the Ubuntu Install/Partitioning Guide

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

Thanks, Mike

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Windows and Ubuntu can both read and write fat, fat32 and NTFS. – Seth Nov 28 '12 at 20:25
@iSeth Since there will be no Windows (no dual boot) on the laptop, samba on Ubuntu may be better choice for file access than fat/ntfs partitions. – user68186 Nov 28 '12 at 20:28
@user68186 Thats a good point.... – Seth Nov 28 '12 at 20:38
If you feel your question is answered adequately, consider putting the green check mark against the most appropriate answer. This will mark the question as answered and help others with similar problems. – user68186 Nov 29 '12 at 11:32

Simple solution is the best

Just use the default settings of Ubuntu install, at let use the full drive and do its partitioning.

You will get one huge / partition and a swap partition. This gives the most flexibility. Your application development data will reside in the subfolders of /home/[user]/ folder. It can grow as big as you need it to be. Your mp3, video, PDF etc. will also be in subfolders of /home/[user]/.

Sharing files with Windows

I assume you want to share your files with a different Windows box in the local network. Samba is the best way to do it. just right click on the folder you want to share (such as Music) and select share... This will install Samba and anything else you may need. Installing Samba will also allow you to read and write to shared folders in the Windows box.

File ownership/ permissions work differently in Windows and Ubuntu and they do not translate well when files reside in FAT32 or NTFS partitions. Since there will be no Windows installation in the Ubuntu laptop, there is no advantage in making FAT32 / NTFS partitions onto which Ubuntu cannot write file permission information.

In the early versions of Ubuntu there were two options to upgrade. (a) upgrade directly from the existing installation. (b) Fresh install from Live DVD/USB. The first preserved the personal settings, and data, the second wiped everyting.

New versions of Ubuntu offers a third (c) choice of upgrading from Live DVD/USB. This preserves the /homefolder combing the best of (a) and (b). This also means creating a separate /home partition is not that important if you need to overwrite your Ubuntu installation.

Multiple partitions keep program and user data separate (Use your own settings)

Choosing Something Else during Ubuntu installation allows you to setup multiple partitions to your own liking. It also makes you decide the size of each partition.

I prefer a three partition setup:

/ to keep the OS and all the applications as well as any web server data (If you do web development). 46-48GB.

/home to keep all the user data, including music, application development etc. 450GB

Swap can be 2-4GB, just to keep Ubuntu happy.

This gives you the flexibility to reformat / and reinstall Ubuntu if you ever need to do it. Though it is not essential as new versions of Ubuntu gives the option to preserve /home even when it is not a separate partition, during upgrade/reinstall from Live USB/DVD.

If you delve into web development, you may want to make / larger, as the web server data will go there. You don't have to figure out how much to / and how much to /home if you go with the default installation and keep a single / partition.

Hope this helps

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Thanks for all of the great info ppl. I really appreciate it. I'm gonna read all of the replies and suggestions and start my install. Again, thanks very much! – user111393 Nov 28 '12 at 22:45

If your not going to dual boot and your not going to access the drive via windows then just use one big ext4 partition (/). You can still access files on the drive via cifs (file sharing), ftp, ssh, or any number of protocols from other windows boxes.

If your going to directly access the drive from windows then the "shared" partition should probably be FAT32. This will give you the best experience when sharing the data.

Ubuntu can safely fit, fully running with TONS of apps in under 100 Gig. Personally I don't like to limit my self like that so I would recommend one of two things.

Single Partition

Create a single 500 Gig partition. Share files via file sharing software like cifs, ubuntu one, dropbox, ftp, etc.


Create a primary partition for Linux that is 400 Gigs and a 100 Gig partition for "shared files".

Don't over think

Just make the Shared partition as big as you think you will need and use the rest for the Linux partition. It's all to taste.

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Also remember that you can edit the size of your partitions once Ubuntu is installed :) – MiJyn Nov 28 '12 at 20:43
Note that FAT32 is more prone to losing or corrupting data in the event of a crash or power loss than ext3/ext4 or ntfs would be. It also can't have files larger than 4GB. Ntfs is another partition type you could use for your shared partition, with the drawback that it doesn't perform as quickly on Linux. It would be suitable if most of your work is still done in Windows. There are Windows-based readers and filesystem drivers for ext3 but I'm not sure how reliable they are. – thomasrutter Nov 28 '12 at 21:24
neon_overload is right in that fat32 sucks and will loose data/corrupt. However it's still the best choice when your sharing a partition. Windows can't read ext2 very well, and linux can't write ntfs very well. – coteyr Nov 29 '12 at 0:30

All necessary information is in the Ubuntu Community Documentation here:

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