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I'm about to repartition my XP-only laptop and install Slackware. This laptop is for purely everyday, desktop use. I was planning on using the following partitions:
37 GB HD:
1: Windows 5GB
2: Linux system files ?
3: /home/ user files ?
4: swap 1GB
Every how-to tells me I should have about 2x my memory in swap, but nobody tells me anything about how large the home or system partitions should be! I've never installed Linux before, so I don't know where most of my data should go. I will be the only user on this computer if that makes a difference. Which partition will require the most data, and why? What exactly will go on each partition? Thanks for all of your help, guys.
The size of root (/) and /home is something that you have to determine yourself. Assess what you will be installing on your computer and how much disk space you will need for everyday use and come up with a suitable partitioning scheme.
And if you want *numbers* to start from, figure 2GB - 5GB for "/", depending on how "full" an install you plan to have, and put everything else into "/home". (Of course, keep a swap partition - 512MB is probably sufficient.)
One thing you can do to feel more at ease with having allocated the correct amount of space would to simply make a swap and allocate the rest to /. The /home directory can safely reside on the / directory and will be created during installation.
Doing it this way means no problems with having made / too small or /home too big. No wasted space or insufficient disk space problems.
The only partitions I have on my machine are
/ the rest of the drive
The first couple of times, I just had a swap (2XRAM in size) partition, and the rest was /. It is, I guess, not technically ideal for security, but I did not care because I was new at Linux anyway... I reinstalled quite a few times.
After a while, I got a good feel for how big certain directories can get. You can use the command 'du' to check the size of a directory. For example:
$ du -sh /usr/local
whould tell you how much space is used by your /usr/local. After that, I just kinda 'scaled' the sizes of different directories based on the total disk usage. so, for example, if /usr/local comprised 20% of my disk usage, I partitioned 20% of the disk to /usr/local.
I don't pretend to know if this is the best way, but it seemed safe. There are some exceptions like /boot or /var. They probably don't need a whole lot of space.
The only time having a single / partition on a desktop machine instead of a seperate /home partition will cause a problem is when performing an upgrade or installing a new distro (amounts to same thing with some distros) where there /home directory will be over-written.
This is solved if one does the smart thing and makes back-ups of the personal files to be kept. Good practice to back up the personal stuff any time doing an upgrade. Gotta love those CD-RWs.
If you don't want to back up your personal files because you don't have a cd writer or are just lazy, then make a /home partition and leave intact when upgrading or changing distros.
Personally, I think a single / partition makes better use of disc space but your mileage may vary.
Something I have wondered, and tried... Is is a good idea to use a single partition for /home if you have multiple distros? Then you still have all your personal stuff in your /home easily accessible no matter which distro you have booted up. Are there any ill effects?