I have just been installing Xubuntu on my netbook and after I have let the setup wipe the disk and install it by itself out of laziness. It was half into the setup that I noticed I haven't seen it create a swap partition in the confirmation dialog, so I have let it complete and then restarted it to manually partition it.

After reading a bit more on the matter itself before doing random things, I have come to the knowledge to place the swap partition at the beginning of the drive so it can be accessed fast and also to place /boot within the first 100 GB of the drive so the BIOS can find and boot from it. I also read more about the importance and advantages of partitions in general and decided to create a few more than just swap, /boot and /.

So halfway into it, having created swap first as logical partition, /boot second as primary partition and / as well as /var as logical partition, the setup refused to create more, stating it was not possible for me to create more than four primary partitions.

Now this was the moment when confusion hit me like a train as I have already read before about that (which is why I have had selected logical for anything but /boot in the first place), because I have only created a single primary partition and not four as the setup stated.

During my research I found that the solution for creating more than four was to use extended partitions but the setup (as opposed to gparted) did not even give me the option to select anything but primary and logical, whereas it obviously didn't even care what I selected and created only primaries.

I messed around a bit with it and was able to create tons of small logical partitions in a row, but as soon as I have applied the above mentioned configuration, it was over.

So, does the order of the logical and primary partitions matter? If yes, how am I supposed to adhere to "place swap at the beginning of the drive" and "keep your /boot within the first 100GB of the drive" and have more than just two more additional partitions?

  1. "I haven't seen it create a swap partition in the confirmation dialog..." Swap partitions are passé. Nowadays, since the problem with earlier kernels and swap file speed has been solved, Ubuntu's (and Xubuntu's) default is a swap file which they will automatically generate during install if you do not create a swap partition (note: btrfs does not support swap files).

The swap file is far more flexible; if you add RAM later on, and would therefore normally increase swap space, it's a lot easier with a swap file than remaking partitions, and since it is created during install, it will be within 100 GB of the front of the drive.

  1. "The customary numbering scheme is to create primary partitions sda1 through sda3 followed by an extended partition sda4. The logical partitions on sda4 are numbered sda5, sda6, etc." - Partitioning at the Arch wiki.

Since your PC does not support EFI/UEFI, then you will need to make partitions following the MBR partition table rules; if you want/need more than four partitions, then choose Something else during the install process, create three Primary partitions and assign them to root, /var, and /home (with /boot automagically under root), then an Extended partition in which you may create the remaining partitions as Logical partitions. Or, make root, /boot, and /home, with /var one of your Logical partitions.

Note: You make an Extended before you can create a Logical, not vice versa.

Every source I can find says there's very little difference, if any, in HDD performance between Primary and Logical partitions (example), and absolutely none if you have an SSD instead of an HDD.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. If I got the article about swap files right, I should be fine using one with the mere 1 GB of RAM the netbook provides, as the default swap file would not exceed 2048 MB anyway? As for the second point, EFI is indeed not supported on the system, so GPT is unfortunately no option for me. So should I in your opinion use the single-partition default setup of Xubuntu or should I partition as I want it to? Will Xubuntu then still create a swap file or do I have to do it manually afterwards, which I then again already know how to do? – TheKvist Aug 19 at 20:47

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