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Question about Partitioning for Linux

When I decided to install Linux onto an external hard drive I wanted to be able to do it without removing or disconnecting the internal hard drive. It seems to me that Most Distros don't make this as easy as they could. For example in Ubuntu you have only three options. Some advise the beginner to stay away from the third "Do Something Else" But if your going to put it on an external hard drive then you haft to do "Something else" I think a lot of beginners would like to know how to put a Linux Distro on an External Hard Drive. For me, Personally, it's been a great way to use the full features of a Linux Distro without Altering the Internal Hard Disk.

Under Doing Something Else, you are required to set up your own partitions. Thankfully I've found some helpful youtube videos on how to do this. BUT I noticed something that has caused me to post this thread. People don't seem to carry the same partition views. I've heard some people say you should make your swap partition twice the size of your ram. I just saw someone else say make your swap partition four gigs (For Ubuntu). I've seen several people split their hard drive into 3's. I think Ubuntu only splits the hard disk into 2 by default. Those who were splitting them into 3's. They had 1 partition for the system. 1 partition for "home" and 1 partition for swap. I don't get it. Why is this helpful?

I realize that I'm asking you guys, and I realize that you all might have different opinions on this. But as a beginner I don't want to read a whole bunch if "I do it this way" kind of thing. I want to know the pros and cons to the various ways you partition your hard drives for Linux. Most importantly I need to figure out if the way I'm going about it is "ok" or not.

My partitions are simply 2. I have 5 gigs of swap for Zorin OS and 926 gigs for the system. So far that seems to work.

I'm not Limiting myself to just Ubuntu or Ubuntu based Systems. I have some other ones downloaded that I want to try someday. Of course if everything is going ok as is, I'd like to just add some of those to my current hard disk without erasing Zorin OS. So far I've never set up a duel boot system from scratch. IE building my own partitions instead of using the First Option in the installer called "Install along side".


  • pdqpdq Administrator
    I like to always partition my OS drive using / of about 10-20GB, depending if is server or a full on desktop install, the remaining freespace on the drive i put in /home because this is where the freespace is needed most as / should never under normal use get anywhere near the 10-20GB alloted to it but /home will easily fill up fast with my Linux steam videogames. :)

    A swap partition is never needed as it is much easier and more logical to use a Swap file instead of a partition so that it can be easily resized and removed at any time on the fly using any drive and can be done after the fact of installation. :)

    Admin at Linux Distro Community, humble slave of LGC & lurker at GOL. [GitHub, Twitter, Steam]

  • I have a whole mess of partitions on my system. Some I made, some came from the factory.

    I dual boot with windows (actually triple boot as I keep a partition available for testing linux distros).

    So. I have a 150 gb partition for windows (and my games). Its just easier to game on windows, and I have the Hard disk space to spare, so no harm no foul. I do not keep user data on this disk (files and such anyway).
    A 20 gb partition for my main linux OS (antix). again, user files are not stored on this disk (except for settings found in /home).
    A 120 gb data partition (just data). This is not /home, because I like to keep the settings for each distro separate, so I put my /home in the / of the particular distro. With a separate data partition, the data is accessible from any OS that is installed without too much hassle. In the past I have formated this partition fat32, but I have switched to ntfs lately because of file size limitations of fat32 (HD movies rips and large VirtualBox VM Disk Files).
    And a 15bg testing partition.
    I also have a 4gb swap partition, to match my 4gb of ram. In the past I've set up hibernate/suspend to disk, and you need a swap partition at least equal to your ram size for that.

    Physically, the disk is 2 primary partitions (both windows related, as there is a small recovery partition), 1 extended partition, with 4 logical partitions inside (2 linux OS, 1 data, 1 swap).

    So pros and cons of this setup.

    1. I can test whatever linux distro I want in the testing partition without screwing up my daily OS.
    2. All of my users files are stored in the data partition, so I don't need to access the partitions holding the OS's to access my data. This is particularly handy for sharing a dropbox folder between multiple OS's. And If I need to reinstall an OS, i don't wipe out my data as a result.
    3. Windows is still available if I want to do a little gaming.

    1. It wastes a little disk space I suppose. The Linux OS partitions are typically in the 40% free range since I don't store in data in them, its all apps and system files. The windows partition also has free space available, although installed games can be large.
    2. When you install a new OS, you have to deal with the permissions and mounting of the ntfs data partition, which isn't difficult, but most Linux's don't set it up the way I want by default. Its a 2.5 minute modification of an fstab usually.
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