I work at a webdevelopment company and we're all getting new PC's. Our plan is to run a dual-boot system with Ubuntu and Windows 7 or 8.

I've setup a few of these systems so I know the how of it, installing Windows first, shrinking the partition etc.

What I can't seem to find, despite reading many topics about the subject, is a way to determine the ideal partition layout.

At home I have a 320gb disk divided roughly in 200gb for Win, 10gb swap, and the rest for Ubuntu itself. I've seen no need to make a shared partition for both systems so I just gave both more then enough to work on their own.

At work we've only got a 128gb SSD to work with and we absolutely need some kind of shared space since we'll be running both windows and ubuntu for developing and testing sites and apps.

Now I know Ubuntu kan run find on less than 20gb, less than 10gb even. The system will have 16GB of ram, so I suppose the swap partition should be about the same size for hibernation purposes, probably somewhat smaller.

Windows is a disk hogger usually, but I can set most of the paths to the remaining partitions so that would help a lot. Would 20gb suffice in that case ?

So that would leave me with 20gb Ubuntu, 16gb swap, 20gb Win and about 72gb for shared storage.

But I'm not sure if this is the best division. I would probably need to install most of the windows applications on the 72gb partition. Perhaps even the larger Ubuntu apps, not sure.

And what format would I use for the 72gb ? I suppose NTFS since that's fastest for windows and ubuntu can work with it. Are there any performance issues for Ubuntu in this case ?

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this.

Thanks in advance

  • Are you planning on using full disk encryption? Aug 29, 2013 at 15:47
  • One more thing you missed out.. The actual size of 128 GB SSD would not be 128 GB right? It would be around 112 to 119 GB.. So be cautious before deciding any thing. Take correct decision. :) Aug 29, 2013 at 16:01
  • I'm not planning on using disk encryption. There is no need for it in our situation. As I understand it Ubuntu should show 128gb where Windows would show around 112, right ? Aug 30, 2013 at 9:38

3 Answers 3


If this is part of a wide-ranging update, perhaps a centralised file server with some redundancy might be in order. There are many systems and protocols that work for both Windows and Linux and will provide next-to-native performance (if not better).

That would leave all important stuff off the SSDs and free for applications and swap. It's more costly (probably the cost of a few computers on its own) but it offers clear benefits:

  • File collaboration between many people,
  • Adding external network access (if desirable), and
  • Backing things up is now much, much easier.
  • We have a centralised file server running and that's fine, but we will need some room on the SDD for the projects itself. At least that's what I'd like, because we can benefit from the fast IO of the SSD for searching through source files etc. Aug 30, 2013 at 9:41
  • 1
    @Corwin Depending on the size of these projects, I would be tempted to say to just check them in and out of the central filesystem (assuming a git repo or another VCS is running there) and push your changes before changing OS.
    – Oli
    Aug 30, 2013 at 9:46
  • But otherwise the central file system should be the fastest filesystem in the office. RAID60 over a dozen SAS drives with RAM and/or SSD caches and 10GBE to dedicated SAN switches. Something like that should easily be able to meet 1200MB/s. Even with the difference in latency (microseconds vs milliseconds), it's more than usable and often still faster than a single local mechanical disk would be.
    – Oli
    Aug 30, 2013 at 9:58
  • That would be a terrific solution indeed. Unfortunately not an option at the moment. The fileserver we have is fairly slow. However, not sharing a partition and using git for editing projects in both environments might just be what I need. Thanks. Sep 2, 2013 at 9:18

I have previously had a shared NTFS partition for shared data, but in my use the size requirement was actually quite low. I had allocated 20 Gb for the shared partition, but I was using less than 1 Gb.

If you actually work on something large, like video files, then you may need a larger shared partition. But in my experience most of the hard disk space is taken by additional installed applications, both in Windows and in Ubuntu.


Would recommend at least 30 gb for Windows (base install takes 16-20gb, if you update, may need more, would also need to disable swap file on windows partition, takes 3-4 gb, instead enable it on the ntfs drive, hibernation also takes 2-3 gb), 16 gb for Ubuntu, 4gb Swap , and rest as ntfs for data, which can be shared with both Windows and Ubuntu.

  • Windows swap on the other partition is a great idea! Never thought of that. Is 4gb really sufficient for swap ? Truthfully I don't know much about Linux swap, but it seems it should be able to hold the contents of the hardware RAM. But then again, maybe that's a foolish notion Aug 30, 2013 at 9:48
  • 1
    On a running system about 600 mb ram is used, could be greater or less depending on the apps open. So you would need that much of space on the swap to hold your data. I have seen it recommended on many sites that swap size = 2 x ram size, but not exceeding 4gb, is enough. So there you go.
    – abchk1234
    Aug 30, 2013 at 14:12

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