What is a partition?

A partition is a subdivision on a hard disk. Each Linux partition except the swap partition requires a mount point.

Why should you partition your hard disk?

  • Control data size. By separating the partition for the system files and user or application data files, you can prevent the user or application from using up all available disk space and impede the normal operation of the system.

  • Compartmentalize storage. By using multiple partitions, in case file system corruption occurs, damage will be isolated to the partition of the corrupted file system only.

  • Improve system performance. By using multiple partitions, you will restrict your hard disk access to a smaller area of the hard disk giving better performance.

  • Run multiple operating systems. You can run multiple operating systems in one computer, each operating system having its own partition.

What is a mount point?

A mount point is a local directory on your Linux system where a partition or device is attached to. All partitions created during Linux installation will be automatically mounted.

This is similar to the mount point in Windows NT, which allows you to attach a new partition into an empty directory say C:\Program Files instead of assigning a new drive letter to the new partition. Mounting to local directory allows you expand a local directory by adding a new hard disk instead of replacing it.

What is a logical partition?

By design, you can create up to four primary partitions only irregardless of what operating system you use. To create more than four partitions, they have to be created as logical partitions within an extended partition. An extended partition is a primary partition which can be divided into multiple logical partitions. A primary partition is one of the four main partition that can be applied to the hard disk. A logical partition is a subdivision of an extended partition.

What is a swap partition?

This is a special non-user accessible partition in Linux used to store inactive applications to free up RAM. This gives the Linux system virtually more memory allowing more applications to be run. For Windows users, this is similar to the virtual memory paging file. Generally, the swap partition should be twice the amount of RAM you have.

What is a logical volume?

Logical volumes are a subdivision of a volume group. A volume group is composed of several partitions formatted as a physical volume. Logical volumes allow administrators to grow or shrink logical volumes without destroying data.

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Posted on 3/5/2007 and last updated on 11/7/2009
Filed under Technical Articles