1

I'm trying to install Ubuntu-MATE 18.04.4 on a new, empty, external standalone 1 terabyte SSD.

I have 2 other drives in my desktop workstation, so in the installer I selected "do not use" for the swap spaces on those drives.

I then selected to create an 8 GB swap space for the SSD as a "logical" or extended partition at the end of the SSD's empty space. (Since my desktop box has 8 GB of RAM.)

Then I set up one large primary partition for both "/" (root) and /home directories from "Beginning of space" using the ext4 filesystem.

I selected for the bootloader to be on "sde" which is the SSD.

But when I click on "Install now," the informational box that pops up says that the large primary partition will be partition 2, and that the 8 GB swap partition will be partition 5.

The installer wants partitions 1, 3 and 4 to be "unallocated space" partitions. Is this normal? I defined just 2 partitions. I don't understand why the installer wants to create five partitions on my SSD.

Since I want to understand what's going on with this, I did not go ahead with the install.

Can anyone shed light on what's going on here?

What would be "standard"? Seems like a lot of space is getting wasted with three "unallocated space" partitions. How would I correct this so as to limit the number of partitions and also not have unused or wasted space. Or do I want some small bit of free or unallocated space as, say, one partition?

Could I avoid all this if the first partition I create is the large / and home as primary, from the beginning of the space (leaving only 10 GB at the end), then, secondly, create the 8 GB swap space from "end of space" (or even from "beginning of space" which would be at the end of the primary partition, with 2 GB at the end - thoough maybe that would create a 3rd partition.)

Will I still end up with more than 2 partitions? Or rather, how can I do this to have only 2 (and is it ok to want just 2, or is there some need for a third partition to have "free space". Is there generally a need for free space with an SSD?

UPDATE: More info:

I tried to do this yesterday on a different SSD, and I did end up with what appeared to be extra partitions:

Partitions 1, 3 and 4 were "unallocated space" totaling about 40 or 50 GB of wasted space. I don't know why or how it happened like that.

Just a note about my situation: Failure for this install is not a good idea for me right now: My 16.04 drive broke and gives me a blank screen, so I'm working from an older 14.04 spinner (internal) HDD that is crashing on me every 10 minutes and it re-boots slowly, Hence I'm in a bit of a painful place.

(Also I'm supposed to be working from home right now, and they're starting to wonder what's up with me.)

So I'd like to get 18.04 up and running asap, and, for right now, I'll need to be able to boot from this new external 18.04 SSD that I'm trying to format and install right now.

Over the weekend or as soon as I can, I'll replace the internal 14.04 spinner with the new 18.04 SSD. Right now I need a working system.

--> sudo fdisk -l  
[sudo] password for rj: 

Disk /dev/sda: 1000.2 GB, 1000204886016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 121601 cylinders, total 1953525168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x3aec6e77

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *        2048  1932552191   966275072   83  Linux
/dev/sda2      1932552192  1953525167    10486488   82  Linux swap / Solaris

Disk /dev/sdb: 960.2 GB, 960197124096 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 116737 cylinders, total 1875385008 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x000b53b4

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdb1   *        2048  1833400319   916699136   83  Linux
/dev/sdb2      1833400320  1854412799    10506240   82  Linux swap / Solaris

Disk /dev/sdc: 1000.2 GB, 1000204886016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 121601 cylinders, total 1953525168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x41031e20

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdc1   *        2048  1953523711   976760832   83  Linux

My hardware: Metal: System76 Wild Dog, 64-bit, 4-core Q9650 3GHz, 8 GB ram. Graphics: PNY Nvidia GeForce GTS 450, driver v. 367.44. OSs: Ubuntu Mate 16.04 & 14.04. Drives: 2 960-GB Sandisk SSDs.

  • "unallocated space" is never a partition. – mook765 Mar 26 at 19:52
  • 18.04 and above uses swap files, do not need a swap partition. Are you running a UEFI or Legacy bios? Might need a small EFI partition(under 500mb), a / of about 20 or 30GBs and the rest /home or less. Can use gparted in USB installer and make partitions your way and use the 'something else' option. Seems like swap files started with17.10 – crip659 Mar 26 at 20:12
  • 2
    If you have logical partitions starting at sda5, and no sda4, then that just about has to be MBR(msdos). If using UEFI, you really want gpt. And even if you really want the 35 year old BIOS boot mode, use gpt with a tiny bios_grub partition. I did that 10 years ago on my BIOS only system when I started my conversion to gpt on all new or redone drives. If installing to second drive, Ubiquity will want to install grub to ESP on first drive, no matter what you select. help.ubuntu.com/community/UEFI &askubuntu.com/questions/743095/… – oldfred Mar 26 at 20:30
  • @crip659 My workstation uses BIOS, not UEFI. – Melvin Q. Watchpocket Mar 26 at 20:48
  • I read your new information in the form of an answer. I recommend you format the whole drive (beginning to end) as a single primary partition labeled /, in ext4. Let the installer decide on the size of the swap file taking into account your 8GB RAM. Since this is a question answer site, not a discussion forum, it is not the ideal place for back and forth discussions. – user68186 2 days ago
2

What are the limitations of MBR?

The fundamental limitation of MBR is that it can have only 4 (primary) partitions. To overcome this limitation one of the 4 primary partitions can be used as extended partition. Inside the extended partition you can have many more logical partitions.

Let's review what you did

Step 1: Created an extended partition at the end of the drive

Since this is the first partition you created. This partition is called partition 1. However, you can't keep anything in it. This is a special primary partition called extended partition. It can only hold logical partitions.

Step 2: Created an logical partition inside partition 1, /dev/sde1 to be used as swap

This is the first and only logical partition in this drive. Since primary (including extended) partitions are numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4. The first logical partition is always numbered 5. Therefore your swap partition is labeled something like /dev/sde5. It sits inside /dev/sde1.

Step 3: Created a second primary partition for /

Since this is the second primary partition it is called /dev/sde2. Remember your first primary partition is the extended partition /dev/sde1 at the end of the drive.

There are no partitions 3 and 4 (yet)

Note, It is wrong to say:

Partitions 1, 3 and 4 were "unallocated space" totaling about 40 or 50 GB of wasted space. I don't know why or how it happened like that.

Partition 1 is there. Partition 3 and 4 do not exist yet. If you have unallocated space in the SSD, then you can later create two more primary partitions. They will be numbered /dev/sde3 and /dev/sde4 respectively in the order you create them.

Other Questions

Could I avoid all this if the first partition I create is the large / and home as primary, from the beginning of the space (leaving only 10 GB at the end), then, secondly, create the 8 GB swap space from "end of space" (or even from "beginning of space" which would be at the end of the primary partition, with 2 GB at the end - though maybe that would create a 3rd partition.)

Yes, you could avoid this partition scheme by creating the the large system partition / as the first primary partition first.

These are your options:

Do not create a swap partition

Ubuntu 18.04 will create and use a swap file. This is the default installation behavior. If you do this you can use the whole disk for one primary partition /dev/sde1 label it / and format it ext4.

Create a swap partition

If you need hibernating ability, while booted from this drive, you will need a swap partition. However, since this is an external drive, I don't think it will be wise to hibernate the computer using this drive. So, in effect you don't need a swap partition. The default swap file will work fine.

You could create the swap partition as the second primary partition, /dev/sde2. There is no need to make it an extended partition and create a logical partition /dev/sde5 inside it to put the swap partition there. Anyway, I don't think you need it.

You can leave 2GB unallocated at the end

This will not create a second (or third partition). I can't think of a reason to create a 2GB third partition.

Final thoughts

Make sure the bootloader is created in /dev/sde, the external drive. Note, it should be the SSD as a whole not the partition /dev/sde1.

You could create the swap partition as the second primary partition if you need hibernating abilities. Otherwise, you can just make one big primary partition for /. Ubuntu 18.04 will automatically setup a partition file within it.

You don't need to create a third partition unless you have some special need for it.

Hope this helps

  • 1
    Thank you enormously for that clear and coherent explanation. I did as you suggested, making just one large primary root & home partition, with no swap partition. (I can always create a swap partition later if I feel I need one.) I left 2GB of unallocated space at the end. I labeled sde1 (Partition 1) as "UbuntuMATE-18.04." So I now have an unallocated free space of 32 MB at the start; Partition 1 (989 GB) in the middle; and 2 GB free space at the end. Thanks again for your very detailed answer. Wish there were more like it on Stack Exchange. – Melvin Q. Watchpocket 2 days ago
1

All distros from 17.10 make the swap file the default instead of a swap partition. Swap files are far more flexible and just as fast, ever since late 2017 kernel improvements.

Although you could technically do without swap, that's resulted in a lot of problems for many users, and you certainly have enough space for one. See http://help.ubuntu.com/community/SwapFaq for details.

Therefore, just one big partition for /, for /home , and for everything else is the simplest choice if you use MBR ('BIOS') partitioning, or one small EFI partition (100- 500MB) plus everything else in one large partition for GPT ('UEFI') partitioning.

The big partition would hold the swap file, obviating the need for a separate swap partition..

  • > "Although you could technically do without . . ." Without which? Without a swap partition or without swap files? You're saying that doing without a swap PARTITION has caused problems for some users, correct? Because they only had a swap file(s) and not a full-blown swap partition, yes? – Melvin Q. Watchpocket 2 days ago
  • No. See additional explanation above. – K7AAY yesterday

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.