Partitioning for Linux

01.04.10

Partitioning is a drive-setup process where you designate areas of your hard drive as “mount points”.

Depending on the situation, you can partition the drive as you’re installing Linux, or set up the drive first, (using a utility CD such as GParted or other).  For a single-boot setup, I suggest using the Install CD’s partitioning tool if you’re wiping out the old operating system or replacing one Linux distro with another.   If you’re adding Linux (to create a dual-boot machine with MS Windows or Mac OS-X) then you should attend to the partitioning chores first.  More on dual booting later.

Partitioning can intimidate newcomers, but fear not.  The Linux install process is flexible, and you don’t have to manually create partitions for single boot setup.  The install CD may offer suggestions (depends on distro) or at the very least have an “automatic partitioning” feature that works fine.

Manual partitioning, on the other hand, is worth learning.  Even the basic “3 partition” scheme (/, swap, and /home) offers the advantage of not losing your documents if you replace your distro.  While you should make frequent backups of your files anyway, common advice from the Linux community suggests keeping /home on its own partition for that very reason.  Find a partitioning tutorial here.

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