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I'm planing to install ubuntu 12.10 in a dell inspiron 17 laptop as the unique operating system.

I would like to know how to partition the drive in order to have my data separate from the operating system. is it better to do it in the installation or I could go with the default and then use gparted to do the job?

where can I find some tutorials on this?

I'm finding lots of things with dual boot, but I'm not interested on that.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Different people have different views on the number of partitions to have in Linux (or Ubuntu).

If you go with the default, the installation process will create a root partition with mount point / and a Swap partition. However, since you want the data to be separate, you should select "Something Else" option during installation. This is the advanced option where you get to delete everything and make your own partitions.

I recommend you make 3 partitions:

  1. One 30GB / partition format ext4
  2. One 4GB Swap partition format Linux/Swap
  3. Rest of the drive as /home partition format ext4

If your computer came with UFEI rather than a BIOS, you may need keep the partition for UFEI.

The / partition will have the OS as well as all the applications you will download and install in the future. If you are a web developer, or do some server related work, those things will be in the / partition as well. However, I find 30GB is more than enough for normal desktop use.

The swap partition is getting less important with 4GB or more RAM. A small swap partition keeps the system run smoothly. Another reason one needs a swap partition is hibernation. Hibernation is disabled by default, as it does not work in all laptops. You may later experiment with it and want to have it enabled. Having a swap partition will be useful then.

The /home partition will have all the users' data and personal settings. Photos, music, and videos can take up a lot of space. So I recommend giving the rest of your hard drive to /home.

It is possible to do a default installation and then at a later date, shrink the / partition and create a separate /home partition and move all the data there. This gets more difficult as your hard drive gets more full. There is always a chance that something may go wrong while moving data between partitions, and you will lose your data. So it is much safer to create the partitions when there is no data in the new computer.

Hope this helps.

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Thanks for you answer. I think I'll try to create the partitions when installing ubuntu. but I have never done that before and I'm totally new on this. Do you know where I could find an explanation for beginners in how to do that.thank you so much for your help –  alvaro Dec 9 '12 at 21:35
    
You are most welcome. The step by step installation instructions are at ubuntu.com/download/help/install-desktop-latest. If you want you can do the easy installation first and then if it all works, do it again with preferred disk partitions. Please ask a separate question for any explanations. If you feel your question has been answered to your satisfaction, please put a green check mark next to the correct answer. This will help others with similar problems. –  user68186 Dec 10 '12 at 3:55

If you want to keep data and operating system separate, create a / that is 50 G. And stick the rest in /home.

All of the data will be in your home directory.

You can resize the partitions later should you need to, but it's a PIA. 50G is more then enough if all of your data is in home.

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Thanks for you answer. I think I'll try to create the partitions when installing ubuntu. but I have never done that before and I'm totally new on this. Do you know where I could find an explanation for beginners in how to do that.thank you so much for your help –  alvaro Dec 9 '12 at 21:40
    
askubuntu.com/questions/64671/… –  coteyr Dec 10 '12 at 0:04
    
It's not difficult. If Linux is your only OS then you basically can't mess it up, the installer won't let you. –  coteyr Dec 10 '12 at 0:05

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