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Old 12-30-2005, 01:12 PM   #1
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Partition advice requested

Hello all,

I'm a true newbie to your wonderful site. I've read through some of the posts and they've helped a good deal, but I have some specific questions that I'd like to throw out and see if anyone has some advice.

I have an old computer that I'm planning to turn into a Linux file/web server. It won't be running windows, so dual-booting is NOT needed. I've done a bit of reading, but I'm not sure about the best course of action when partitioning the hard drives. Hopefully, someone here can point me in the right direction. I have a computer science background, so I know the terms and uses, but I haven't dabbled in Linux administration before. I want to make sure I set the system up correctly for it's intended usage.

Anyway, here's story:

The system is an old Pentium machine with 64MB RAM. It has an old 1.6 GB, and a new 160 GB drive that I just installed. I'll be using Debian (since that's what I currenly have a limited knowledge of). I'm planning on using the system for 4 purposes:

1. A small family webserver running Apache (pictures of the baby, etc) and maybe Tomcat
2. A file server for potentially large (5GB+) files which I'll transfer from one of my Tivo systems (which are already networked and accessible). I'd like these files to be accessible by other computers running Windows 2K/XP, where I have video editing s/w, etc. installed.
3. Possibly use the system as a print server/DNS server for my local LAN. (not as important)
4. Small amount of desktop usage, possibly using KDE or another xwindow system. (not as important)

Through my reading, I've identified 6 partitions that are recommended by various sources:


I'm just not sure what the correct size/type each partition should be. My chief concerns are:

1. I've read that the /boot partition should be very small (10MB or so), just so it will be at the beginning of the drive. Do I even need it?
2. The / partition is just for the OS, correct? I'm assuming its size will depend on whether I install x-windows are not. Is there a recommended size?
3. Which partition (/ or /usr) should I use as the web server? That will dictate its size.
4. Which partition (/ or /usr) should I use as the file server (with the very large Tivo files)? What type should this partition be? I know /ext2 and /ext3 have file size limitations, but not clear on how to configure them.
5. Is there any rhyme or reason as to which partitions should go on the old 1.6GB drive or the new 160GB drive? I was thinking it might make sense to put /boot, /tmp, & /swap on the old drive and use the new one for the /, /usr, & /home.
6. Does it matter which drive is hda and hdb (especially if I should have the /boot partition)?
7. Not really a partition question, but what's the best way (Samba, NFS, etc) to share the files with the Windows computers)?

Any advice or feedback is appreciated! Thanks in advance for your input.

Last edited by bamatmac; 12-30-2005 at 01:15 PM.
Old 12-30-2005, 01:28 PM   #2
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Ask 5 people and you will get 25 answers--there is no one right way.

First, I think the 1.6GB drive will make a good hood ornament--otherwise it is not going to be useful---no complete OS will fit and just using it for data will just make your system messier.

If the machine started life with 1.6 GB, I fear that it may also have a marginal processor---plus 64MB RAM is going to be very dicey.

In my reading, the most common setup is a small /boot partition (<100MB) at the beginning, the / partition next, and swap at the end. I would not make / anywhere near the full size of the disk.
Some people also make another partition for data--eg by mounting it at /home.

Depending on other details, I would consider getting another smaller drive (20GB is plenty) for the OS, and use the 160 for data.

And dont forget backup---external USB is a good way to go.


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