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Old 01-14-2007, 10:54 AM   #1
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another noob partition problem

Let me preface this post by saying: I am a NOOB

Ok well I am trying to install slackware on my laptop. I can't even get past the first step of partitioning the hard drive though. I an really lost ):

My hard drive is 90 gigs so I have some room for error I guess. I would kind of like to be able to run windows and linux on the computer. I read about swap partitions and further partitions for / /home /usr /boot and what not. It doesn't mean too much to me.

So i just need to know:

1. how many partitions to make (and what they're for)
2. Whether it should be bootable or not
3. what size to make them
4. whether they should be primary or logical
5. if applicable, what filesystem type to specify

Please save this noob from tears!!!

Last edited by linux_stu; 01-14-2007 at 11:18 AM.
Old 01-14-2007, 11:29 AM   #2
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Well if you're as "n00b" as you say you are, then slackware might not be the best place to start.

My system runs on a single 120 gig HDD - I have it partitioned into 4 partitions, though in truth it could be done better.

I currently have this setup.

/boot = 1 gig
/swap = 1.5 gigs
/ = 25 gigs
/home = the rest of the drive.

Now, those are all primary. The /boot isn't really necessary, it's sort of left over from when I had Gentoo installed (their default at the time was /boot, /swap and / - I just added the /home). The swap follows the original wisdom of being about 2X the installed RAM (768 megs). The / (aka root) is about 25 gigs because I wanted plenty of room so that I could install and meddle with as many apps as I could dream of, plus it allows plenty of room for log files etc etc. Then the /home so that I could have user accounts for myself and Clare, my partner. So we could both have pretty much, as much music/docs/other data type files and as many customisation stuff.

Now I'm aware that it could take a long time to fill it up, and if I wanted too, I could loose the /boot so that thats only a directory in the / but I like to keep it because if I get round to changing the partition scheme so that the / and /home is shrunk to make some space and then I'd have to probably backup the /home on external HDD or similar, and then one of the primary partitions would then be extended.

In fact, if it wasn't for not knowing much when I set it up as it's currently, then I'd probably have one primary, and one extended and make all the sub partitions on the extended and just leave the possibility of 2 more primary or extended.

It depends entirely on what you want to do as to how big or small you want to make the partitions, whether they're primary or logical etc. Do you intend to run dual boot or just linux ?

To give yourself the maximum possible flexibility, I'd suggest, that say you (presuming only one distro installed and NO windows) 3 partitons. 1 primary, 2 logical (1 extended into 2 logical that is). the primary being the / or /root for the main system install (as thats where it goes). Say, Oh I don't know, probably 10 to 15 gigs should be more than adequate. Then the first of the logical ones /swap, and although the "linux wisdom" mentioned earlier is rather old, dating from when 64 megs of RAM was shitloads, if you just have 2X the installed RAM for the /swap then you shouldn't go far wrong. Then the second logical, well as I say, what you gonna be doing with the system ? What kind of stuff you gonna store, music doesn't take up much room but images/pictures can be real "space hogs". So again, if it were me, I'd go for say about 25 to 30 gigs for the /home. That way, theres still space to manoeuvre/do other stuff if you want.

As for file systems ext3 is a very safe and reliable bet.



Old 01-14-2007, 11:35 AM   #3
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Oh and while it's perfectly possible to install everything onto one partition (that'd probably be 2, one for / and /swap - everything except the /swap being directories in the /), I usually suggest seperate / and /home (along with /swap) because if you want to install a different distro, you can just install it to the / partition and as long as you install all the same packages then when you log in as user again, it generally "just works" and you haven't lost any data/files etc (customisations like backgrounds, themes, fonts etc may have to be re-installed).

Oh and I'd suggest that if you are as "n00b" as you infer, then start with Ubuntu or Kubuntu (Ubuntu is gnome based, kubuntu is the same but kde based and IMO more familiar if you are coming from a windows background).

If you like how it works then it's no stress to move to a more "advanced" distro (advanced is used advisedly, because the *buntus have everything that other distros have, but like to do some stuff in a certain way - I use the "Debian SID based" sidux because it allows me considerably more control than the *buntus want you to have - but they are aimed at the newer user.


Old 01-14-2007, 11:52 AM   #4
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My suggestion for the first Linux

1Gb for the swap
10Gb for Slackware

Dones't matter if logical or primary, Linux never uses the booting flag.

Best to use a Linux Live CD to partition, say use the terminal program cfdisk on device hda "cfdisk /dev/hda", because the partition type created by default is No. 83 suitable as native Linux. You need to change the partition type to No. 82 for swap.

No need to format. It is the installer's duty to format the partitions. Standard filing system in Linux is either Ext3 or Reiserfs to be selected only at formatting stage.

If a user gives only one partition to mount the root "/" of the Linux all directories will become subdirectories under "/". Works in every Linux.
Old 01-14-2007, 11:54 AM   #5
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For a nice free partitioning tool, I'd recommend gparted livecd:

It's easier than trying to struggle with the command line utilities in slackware.

I love slackware but I really can't recommend it to someone new to linux. It's not designed to be newb friendly. You may be better off with a more user friendly version of linux like PCLinuxOS:

PCLinux can be tested with a livecd and installed directly from the livecd. IIRC it will automatically partition and format for you on your available space.

To answer your questions:

1. This is up to you. The simplest configuration is one swap partition and one other partition for everything else which we can call the root partition. The swap partition in linux is analogous to the page file in windows, i.e. it's a virtual ram on the hard drive to be used when you run out of real ram. The root partition will contain the linux install.

2. The boot flag need not be set on any linux partition if you don't want to but there is no harm in setting the boot flag on the root partition.

3. Size of the swap partition is generally set at two times the amount of ram up to 1GB in size. In systems with 1GB of ram or more, you will rarely use swap at all but it's there for safety reasons in case you need it. Unless you are doing something unusual or using "suspend to disk" on your system, there's rarely a need for more than a 1GB swap partition. The root partition size depends on what you want to do, but 10GB should be more than enough and you could easily get by with 5GB.

4. It doesn't really matter; linux can boot from either logical or primary. However since you only have four primary partitions allowed, it's best to use logical partitions.

5. Swap doesn't have a filesystem per se; it will be formatted "swap". As for root, you will get a lot of opinions on that but the most popular linux filesystems at the present time are ext3 and reiserfs.


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