Partitioning for average end user.

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alank
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Joined: 12/02/2018

Hello,

I'd like to hear your thought whether or not partitioning is necessary for your average internet dwelling hooman. I have a 500GB HD, 4GB of RAM. How many partitions would I need. Should I just have 1 for root, 1 for /home. Using MBR that would ofc be 2 primary partitions, right?

loldier
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Joined: 02/17/2016

The average user only needs one partition to avoid the root partition overfilling. But if you are in the habit of reinstalling and want to keep old data, a separate home partition would be nice to have. MBR choice depends on your hardware and firmware. BIOS boot expects MBR, UEFI can use GUID GPT. Use MBR if you have a disk 2 TB or less. MBR supports four primary partitions.

I use two partitions, root and home, no swap.

nadebula.1984
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Joined: 05/01/2018

Here's my partitioning schemes:

MBR partition table, BIOS/Legacy boot firmware:
/, /boot, /home, swap

GPT partition table, BIOS/Legacy boot firmeare:
bios boot, /, /boot, /home, swap

GPT partition table, UEFI boot firmware:
/boot/efi, /, /boot, /home, swap

So 4 or 5 partitions are more than enough for "average users".

Cyberhawk

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Joined: 07/27/2010

With 4GB of RAM I'd suggest having a swap partition. Just in case, who knows how many applications will be running at some point all at once.

So, if the computer supports using MBR, this is my suggested partition scheme:

/ ext4 60GB
/swap 2xRAM size = 8GB
/home ext4 all the rest = about 425GB

This way you have a huge root partition, you will probably never run out of space, even after installing every application that is remotely interesting to you. You also have twice as much swap as RAM, so you are never likely to run out of that too. And you still have way over 400GB for home, which is huge imho. If you want to store lots of videos in HD, you will need an extra drive anyway.

Magic Banana

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Joined: 07/24/2010

Twice the RAM for the swap is a lot. If your system swaps because it ran out of RAM, it is unbearably slow (because the disk is about 100 times slower than the RAM) and you will not wait for that much swap to be filled before saving your work and closing applications. Nowadays, having as much swap as RAM is already a lot, unless you want to hibernate (in which case, it is kind of necessary because hibernating basically is zipping the content of the main memory and storing it on the swap partition).

60 GB for / is a lot too. Nevertheless, that depends on what you plan to install. In particular, some video games require a lot of disk space. For those who do install heavy games, I would advise 32 GB to be at ease, what is already much more than what the default install does (14 GB if I remember well: too little in my humble opinion).

The rest of the disk for /home: for a desktop usage, I only see drawbacks (having a partition full, while another one was oversized) in further partitioning the disk.

nadebula.1984
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Joined: 05/01/2018

Regarding "the rest of the disk for /home", I don't see so many drawbacks. Most "average users" are highly unlikely to re-partition their HDD/SSD. They tend to accept and keep whatever they are provided.

Magic Banana

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Joined: 07/24/2010

I apparently have not expressed myself clearly: I meant "I only see drawbacks in having the file hierarchy on more than two partitions (/ and /home)".

I actually have /tmp on a tmpfs filesystem (i.e., in RAM) and that is useful for my work (I often deal with large temporary files I make with 'mktmp'). Nevertheless, for a regular desktop user, the performance gain will never be noticeable and she may run out of RAM if she does not have as much RAM as I (16 GB) and uses, for instance, Popcorn Time, which downloads movies into /tmp.

alank
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Joined: 12/02/2018

Well thank you all for your responses. I think I'm gonna go with /root, /home and /swap. Just because why not, right? There aren't any negatives to having partitions (assuming that they are done correctly). I think hehe.

Magic Banana

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Joined: 07/24/2010

Why do you want to put root's file on a separate partition? You will probably never have a lot in /root anyway. In fact, users of distribution that rely on 'sudo' (including Trisquel) usually do not write anything in /root.

The swap partition is not mounted, i.e., it is not attached to the file hierarchy. There is no such thing as /swap unless you create it... and, indeed, it is possible to have a swap file instead of (or in addition to) a swap partition. However only swap *partition* allow you to hibernate the system.

The drawback of having more partitions is that you more easily end up with a full partition, when another partition still has a lot of space available. You then need to repartition. And, depending on the filesystems you chose, it may not be that easy: XFS cannot be shrunk; JFS cannot be resized at all, etc.

loldier
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Joined: 02/17/2016

I think he means '/', not the superuser directory 'root'. / that we call root has no name.

strypey
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Joined: 05/14/2015

I've spent a lot of time in the past cleaning up the messes of people's borked Windows systems. By default, Windows PCs always have the OS and user files in the same partition, so when the OS dies, as it inevitably does, you have to painstakingly back up all the users files onto a sufficiently large external drive before you can do a reinstall, or install a new OS.

Learning from this experience, I always advise people to have separate partitions for / and /home. This means you can easily reinstall your OS, or switch to a different distro, without having to copy the entire contents of your primary drive to another drive first and re-partition from scratch (note: it's wise to do a fresh backup of anything mission critical before making any such changes to do your drive). I find a 16GB partition for / is usually enough (anything larger than 30GB is really a waste of space).

On my systems, I always have a second primary partition the same size, which I use for testing new versions or distros that I'm thinking about using, or just curious about. At present I have two swap partitions the same size as RAM, one to go with each primary partition, but from now I will just use one, for reasons Magic Banana has explained in previous thread on this topic.