Partitioning the hard disk

Submitted by Tim on Fri, 05/25/2007 - 12:19

The next stage of the installation is titled 'Select drive to install on.' Up to this point we haven't installed anything permanent yet. Now we are approaching the only scary part of the process. Getting your partitioning scheme wrong is one of the few reasons you may ever need to re-install. You backed up all your data already, right? So you've nothing to fear.

On Linux, disk drives correspond to files in the /dev directory, and are referred to like this:

  • Primary IDE device on the primary IDE controller = /dev/hda
  • Slave IDE device on the primary IDE controller = /dev/hdb
  • Primary IDE device on the secondary IDE controller = /dev/hdc
  • Slave IDE device on the secondary IDE controller = /dev/hdd

SCSI and SATA devices are listed differently. They are usually /dev/sda, /dev/sdb, etc. If you have installed Windows on this machine, /dev/hda will usually be what Windows refers to as the C:\ drive.

It is best to choose Erase the Entire Disk here, or use the largest continuous free space if you want to keep any pre-existing content on your drive. If you are planning on dual-booting 64 Studio with another operating system, it may be wise to install Linux on a separate hard drive, although it's not strictly necessary. If the available space is larger than 40GB you may want to further partition the space in order to give you more flexibility later on.

Partitioning Scheme

If you have no idea about this, or a really small hard drive, you may be better off choosing All Files in One Partition. However, the choice of separate /home, /usr, /var, and /tmp partitions can help increase security and stability. If you are installing into 20GB or more of space, this is a good option. Check the suggested partitioning scheme, the guided partitioning usually does the right thing here. If you choose manual partitioning, you can use the installer to re-size existing FAT or NTFS partitions to create room for 64 Studio.

Select the partition you want to change using the arrow keys on your keyboard, and hit Enter. You will be presented with a list of options. Most likely you will want to re-size the partition, if anything. You will be prompted to write out the partition table first and then be prompted to input the desired size; you can enter this either as a percentage of the available free space or as a fixed amount of Megabytes.

Next, the system will set set up the partitions and then perform the resizing operation. Remember, you must assign at least one partition for swap space and one to mount a partition on /, the filesystem's root. There is a useful help file available from this screen, which is well worth reading for additional information. Select Finish Partitioning and write the changes out to disk.

WARNING: This action is not reversible. It is worth making a note of the partition table using a humble pen and paper while you're doing this, it may save an awful lot of faffing around later.

That's it, you are now committed to installing 64 Studio, this is the point of no return. The installer will now create the filesystem for you and set up the clock.