Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fedora 18 Configure Disk Partitions Manually

What you need to know about Linux Partition?

All Linux system requires a minimum of 3 partitions, they are /boot (use booting up the system), /swap (use for virtual memory) and / (the root directory contains the entire system).

The following are the recommend disk size:
  • /boot - about 500MB is sufficient
  • /swap - traditionally it is recommended to have twice the size of your RAM size. However, with sufficient RAM in most system. The swap file is hardly use. I would recommend 4GB is sufficient for most system.
  • / - root directory contains the entire system so you should commit the rest of your hard disk space to it.

If you want to separate the system folder with user data, you can configure and additional mount point for user data such as /home. You can allocate whatever hard disk space necessary for user data.

Partition Type

In Fedora 18, there are 3 different types of partition. They are "LVM", "Standard Partitions" and BTRFS. BTRFS is a very new partition type actively develop by Oracle and can be quite unstable according to wiki. I do not have enough information to judge. 

LVM partition is the default partition type, it allows user to add addition hard disk space by adding a physical drive and extend the logical partition across multiple physical hard disk. Under LVM mode, your /home partition might be store physically across several hard disk. I would recommend LVM partition for file server. However, I would prefer standard partition for home user especially if you have plenty of hard disk space. The only disadvantage in LVM partition is that if the OS is corrupted and unable to boot, it is almost impossible to retrieve the data by using another copy of the same OS booting from CD or flash drive. The logical partition is closely tie to a particular installation. This disadvantage can be a security measure for a file server.

Therefore, I would recommend "Standard Partition" for home user and desktop user.

File System

This section is to get you familiar with all other file system so that you don't delete a wrong partition when you are configuring the disk partitions. 

Almost all Linux distribution uses ext4. If you are using an older system with an old partition, you might encounter ext3 file system. If you are using a mixed system that includes Windows operating system, please be aware that Windows used NTFS. Most of the smaller size removable hard drive use FAT32. Most thumb drive uses FAT.

My advise is do not touch any partition that is NTFS, FAT or FAT32 unless you intentionally want to remove them.

Naming Convention

Linux name your fist physical hard disk as sda, second hard disk as sdb and so on. With the physical hard disk, regardless of the file system use, each partition is name sda1, sda2... and so on.


Please be very careful when you are configuring partitions manually. In certain cases where you need to remove certain partition to allow space for installation of the new system, please be careful about which partition you should remove as it may result in data loss if wrong partition is deleted.

Fedora 18 Reclaim Hard Disk Space

If you have existing partitions on a hard drive and you do not have any free space, you need to reclaim the disk space by deleting exisiting partitions.

Click "Reclaim space". The screen below shows the hard disk which I want to install Fedora 18. To reclaim space, I need to remove the existing partition from the previous installation.

In this hard disk, I have a NTFS partition which store data from my Windows operating system. I do not want to remove that partition and loss all the data. All I need to do was to remove the Linux partition /boot, /, swap and /home. Select the partition you want to delete and click "Remove".

The above screen shows all the partitions that I would like to remove. At this point none of the partition is deleted, if you made a mistake, select the wrong partition and click "Preserve" to revert back. Click "Reclaim space" when ready. The installer will bring to the previous screen as shown below.

After you've reclaim the space, the system immediate configures new partition for you automatically. If you prefer manual intervention you need to select "Installation Destination" again.

Fedora 18 Configuring Disk Partition Manually

Click "Installation Destination" from the screen below.

On the following screen, select the hard disk you want to configure. Click "Continue" at the lower right corner.

On the screen below, check the box "Let me customize the partitioning of the disks instead" and click "Continue"

The screen below allows you to create partitions manually. On the left hand side is the list of partitions being created. If you select any partition, the details will be shown on the right hand side.

To create a new partition, click the "+" sign on the lower left corner. (Just above the pink label)

Configure the "Mount Point" and enter the "Desired Capacity". The system is able to differentiate between megabyte and gigabyte, you need to enter the desire capacity follow by a "mb" or "gb".

Listed below is some more configuration:

If you leave the "Desired Capacity" empty, the system will commit the remaining disk space to the partition.

On the main screen, you can select each partition and examine the details.

You can change the mount point or label the mount point. If you click on the "+" sign next to "customize". You can change the partition type and file system. One you are done with the manual configuration. Click "Finish partitioning" and proceed with the normal installation.

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