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Old October 26, 2012, 02:01 PM
Ardric Ardric is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: East Van
Posts: 48

My System Specs


Different Linux distributions and installers have different ideas about how many partitions to use for Linux and how they should be laid out. In the old days or on big iron we used to use seperate disk partitions for stuff like /, /tmp, /usr, /var, /usr/local, /home, and a dedicated swap partition. That ends up being a lot of partitions to manage! It also means you have to watch your disk usage carefully to be sure you don't fill any of the partitions up. Way too much hassle for a desktop.

I don't know what Mint does, sorry. RedHat-ish systems like Fedora and CentOS like to allocate a single disk partition, assign that partition as a LVM disk volume, then subdivide the volume up into smaller chunks. In this way the Linux system has many small partitions but all of Linux looks like one big partition as far as the BIOS and Windows can see. If you just go with defaults and keep clicking OK, you'll probably end up with something like that. That should be fine. I'd just go with the defaults until you form your own opinions on how it should be done.

The usual suggestion for the size of swap is 1.5 times RAM. Swap can be it's own true partition, or part of a Linux volume group, or can just be a swap file stored in Linux somewhere. I don't know how much RAM you have, but you probably won't need more than 3 or 4GB of swap. If you find 4GB of swap isn't enough, then you should probably just run less apps at once or buy more RAM. Having really deep swap around can save a server's life when something rare happens, but this is a desktop. And since 4GB isn't that big, there should be room to squeeze it onto the SSD with the rest of the Linux system.

Re partitioning the data drive, there's where you'll have some fun. Format the partition with NTFS in Windows, and Windows will love it. Linux can read from it, but be careful/nervous about writing to it from within Linux. See the other comments. Or you can format a partition with ext4 or your Linux filesystem of choice, but then Windows will need help reading and writing it. Software is available, but it's not plug&play. Or you can use FAT32, and enjoy suckage all around. There's no perfect/right choice. I'd probably end up with a mix of stuff, like an NTFS partition I use exclusively for Windows backups and Windows-only storage, an ext4 partition that I use for Linux extra storage because the SSD is small, and maybe a 3rd partition that can be wiped and reformatted frequently, with whatever helps today's tasks.
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