Hard Disk Paritioning for a Linux Install

based on notes for
Mepis Linux 2005

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This Disk Partitioning for Linux page

! Note !
A few more notes may be added,
if/when I re-visit this page again.

In any case, you can use WEB SEARCH links below
to find current information on disk paritioning
for Linux installs.

Links to sections of this page below:


MEPIS Guide Contents (QtParted description)

Partition Screenshots       Partition Links

Searches for More Partitioning Info       Bottom of Page


Linux installs have become very easy now (circa 2005) --- especially from "Live CDs", from which you can try out a Linux "distro" (distribution), and then install the distro to 'hard disk'.

Example distros circa 2005:

The installs are usually easy if you choose to give over the entire disk drive to Linux. However ...

Some people "coming over" from MS-Windows like to perserve an installation of the MS-Windows operating system on their PC (desktop or laptop) --- to preserve some data or to allow for accessing some programs on MS-Windows that are still useful to them.

    Personally, I prefer to 'wipe' an MS-Windows operating system from a computer (desktop or laptop) --- overlay it with a Linux system --- and use an MS-Windows system on a separate computer.

The installation of multiple operating systems on a single computer is often referred to as 'dual-booting' or "multi-booting".

A main technicality in a Linux installation, in that case, is how to partition the hard drive --- to preserve the MS-Windows operating system and MS-user data, yet allow access to the new Linux system and allow for sufficient room in Linux file systems for the amount of new data you expect to accumulate.

    Because of the many different hardware peripherals (such as network cards and monitors) that can be attached to Intel and AMD processor-based machines, there are still little workarounds that may be needed to complete a Linux install. For example, see my Linux Distro Installs Menu page --- to see some 'hiccups' that were encountered.

Multiple disk drives
(on a single computer)

Another case that is not covered in most install guides is the case of having TWO disk drives. Even if one does not have an MS-Windows OS to deal with, one needs to decide how to (and know how to) split the Linux file system across the two drives.

A typical configuration across the two drives would be to put the 'root' and 'swap' directories on one drive --- and the 'home' directories on the other drive.

Unfortunately, I have not found a good guide, with screen-shots, illustrating partitioning TWO drives. But I managed to muddle through such an installation with Mandriva 2007, on a PC that I assembled with two 80 GB drives --- putting the '/home' directory on the second drive.

I found that the Mandriva 'DrakX' installer (including a GUI partitioning utility) was more user-friendly to 2-disk installations than the QtParted or Gparted GUI partition editors that are typically used in Mepis releases, circa 2005.

Intent of this page:
(a place to offer detailed disk partitioning info)

Unfortunately, most guides for installing Linux (in Linux magazine articles and in introductory Linux books) skim over the steps and considerations in installing Linux for a "dual boot" configuration (Linux or MS-Windows).

Even doing a web search for such information is likely to yield frustration, because it is difficult to "hit" on pages that have clear explanations, along with pictures of the options to choose at each step.

This web page is meant as a place to accumulate information (including screen shots) for the disk partitioning process --- and to preserve such information as web sites re-organize and shut down.

SimplyMEPIS User Guide Contents
(with description of using QtParted)

A popular windowing tool that is used to do disk partitioning for a Linux installation is "QtParted" --- where 'parted' is an abbreviation of 'partition editor'.

There is a fairly good explanation of the QtParted process in the MEPIS install guide.

The table of contents of that guide is listed below.

Note that pages 64-66 (Appendix C), contain the description of the typical partitioning steps and considerations.

A link to the MEPIS install guide is below this list of the table of contents.

And some web links to other, more-or-less-good partitioning descriptions are presented below that link.

You may find some other parts of the MEPIS guide interesting to peruse. For example, section 10 --- Using Multimedia Applications --- will give you an idea of SOME of the handy multi-media programs that come with MEPIS. (About 1,200 applications come in the typical MEPIS "distro".)

Appendices A and B give a view of more of the applications and utilities that come with MEPIS.

User Guide

May 2005


(section and page descriptions)

    5 Preface
    5 Legal Notice
    5 Acknowledgements
    5 Primary Authors
    5 Welcome to the MEPIS community!
1.System Requirements
    6 Minimum
    6 Recommended
    6 Note About Winmodems
    7 Note About Hardware in General
2. Booting MEPIS
    8 Booting From CD
    8 Booting from Floppy
3. Boot Screen Selections
    9 Preparing to Boot
    10 Kernel Selection
4. Taking MEPIS For a Test Drive
    11 The Login Screen
    11 Exploring
5. Installing MEPIS
    13 Starting the Install
    14 Choose Disk for Installation
    14 Rearrange Disk Partitions
    15 Select Type of Installation
    15 Choose Partitions
    16 Preferences
    17 Installation in Progress
    18 Select Boot Method
    18 Select Kernel(s)to Use
    20 User Account
    20 Root (administrator) Account
    21 Computer etwork ames
    22 Services to Start
    23 Select Display Driver
    23 Localization Defaults
    23 Set Clock
    24 Reminders
6. Using the Internet
    25 Connection
    25 Dialup with Kppp
    25 Browse the Web
    26 Get and Send Email
    26 Other Applications
7. The OS Center
    27 Introduction
    28 Mouse and Display
    33 Network Interfaces
    37 System Tweaks
    38 User Accounts
    40 User Tweaks
    41 Test Linux Partitions
8. Printer Configuration 9.Update and Install with Synaptic
    46 Updating MEPIS
    46 Using the MEPIS Extras CDs
    47 Removing Programs
    47 Adding Other Programs
10. Using Multimedia Applications
    49 Set Your Sound Levels with Kmix
    50 Play Music Files and Streams with Xmms
    51 Play Movies and Music with RealPlayer
    51 Play Audio CDs with KsCD
    52 Copy from Audio CDs with Konqueror
    53 Manage Your iPod with Gtkpod
    55 Watch DVDs and Movie Files with Xine
    56 Watch Streams in Firefox
    57 Watch TV with XawTV
    58 Edit Movies in Your DV Camera with Kino
A. Windows Programs - MEPIS Apps
    59 Graphics
    59 Internet
    60 Multimedia
    60 Office/Publishing
    60 User Folders
    61 System Tools
B. The K Menus
    62 All Applications
    62 Development
    62 Editors
    62 Games
    62 Graphics
    62 Internet
    63 Multimedia
    63 Office
    63 System
    63 Utilities
C. Partitioning Your Hard Drive
    64 What is a Partition?
    64 Using QTParted
    65 Making new Partition Table (Removing Windows)
    65 Resizing a Windows Partition (Dual Booting)
    65 Creating New Partitions
    65 Partition Sizing Guide
D. Getting Help
    67 TaFusion Registered Users
    67 MEPIS Community
    67 Applications
    67 The Internet
E. Legal
    68 Copyrights and Trademarks
    68 Component License
    68 Warranty
    68 Attention US Government Users
    68 Export Restrictions
    69 GNU General Public License

For your convenience (and to assure accessibility), the MEPIS User Guide (May 2005), in PDF format, is on this web site.

A click here will bring up the guide in a PDF reader of your web browser.

Disk Partitioning Screenshots:

A blog page at 'blog.pcworld.co.nz' gave a great step-by-step set of instructions for installing MEPIS on a PC, while preserving an MS-Windows installation.

The 'blog.pcworld.co.nz' guide includes QtParted screen images and detailed instructions that all-too-many install guides simply gloss over --- leaving the "newbies" to say to themselves "To heck with this. I'm sticking with MS-Windohs.".

Click here to see a local reproduction of that screen-shot illustrated guide. This is a web page to preserve the screenshots in case that New Zealand PC World site re-organizes and makes the page inaccessible.

Some external links on disk partitioning :

This 'linuxhelp.blogspot.com' page (circa Jan 2006) gives a nice description of the why's, as well as the how's, of disk partitioning.

It mentions using the "fdisk" Linux partitioning command, which comes with every Linux system. However, no detailed step-by-step guide here.

Wikipedia has some good overview information on disk partitioning.

Also, Wikipedia has some brief information on QtParted, along with some related links.

www.gnu.org/software/parted/ is the site for the "parted" (partition editor) utility that underlies QtParted.

The Kanotix Linux FAQ shows how to partition a disk with "cfdisk" --- and then how to format those partitions. (cfdisk is a curses-based implementation of fdisk --- i.e. an implementation of fdisk using a formatted text window, a pre-cursor to X-windows.)

And here (at linuxforums.org) are/were some instructions on how to tri-boot a system (have 3 different operating systems on a PC). (This is a rather brief verbal description. No screen images.)

You can use a string of keywords like "qtparted disk partition home windows mepis" in a web-searcher to TRY to find forum threads and other information on using QtParted to do the disk partitioning for a Linux install, while creating a partition for the /home directory and preserving an MS-Windows installation. I got 775 hits using these keywords in Feb 2007, using Google.

You can use a string of keywords like "fdisk disk partition root swap home linux windows" in a web-searcher to TRY to find information on using "fdisk" for doing disk partitioning for a Linux install, while creating a partition for the /home directory and preserving an MS-Windows installation. I got 218,000 hits using these keywords in Feb 2007, using Google.

Here (at tldp.org) is a somewhat old (circa 2000) description of disk paritioning with "fdisk" and several other partitioning utilities. (TLDP = The Linux Documentation Project)

This description is repeated at 100's of other sites. Unfortunately, I have not found a more up-to-date description of using "fdisk" --- nor a descriptive example of using "fdisk" that is as good as the step-by-step description of using 'QtParted', at the New Zealand PC World site above.

(for Linux installs)

To find more information on disk partitioning for Linux installs (especially Ubuntu installs), you can try WEB SEARCHES on keywords such as the following.

You can also try Wikipedia pages like the following, and following links on those pages for even more information.

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Page history:

Page was created 2007 Feb 12.

Page was changed 2010 Mar 05.

Page was changed 2021 Nov 17.
(Added some links at top of page to allow the user to jump to the indicated sections of the page.
Also added a section of WEB SEARCHES for more information and current information on disk parititioning for Linux. Also did some minor reformatting and rewording on the page.)