Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Partition Magician

If you've waded through the previous post, Scouting the Upgrade Trail, this is the coda to the flippant one-liner about choosing a partitioning scheme.

Decide what disk partitions you actually need; my main reason is to separate programs from data, within that, separate my documents from the music collection from video. It makes backing up easier and searching for content a breeze.

None of this is gospel, but it is the scheme I've adopted since Hardy Heron...

Partitioning tips
Gnome Partition Editor is an excellent tool. Like a petrol-driven chain saw, equally capable of carving out complex partitioning schemes, or taking your head clean off. If you're not confident, don't mess with it until you look over some GPartEd tutorials.

Why use it at all? Think of partitions as secure rooms; flood or burn one and the rest should be unaffected. So it should be with data on your hard drive.

My standard partitioning scheme breaks down into:
  • Ubuntu operating system (root, boot, var, tmp, etc, et cetera). You can partition further but you may wind up wasting space.
  • a dedicated home partition – keeping my personal documents and settings separate from programs. If you only do one thing on the list, do this.
  • a downloads location.
  • a location for the music collection.
  • another for movies.
  • perhaps another for pictures.
  • maybe one for websites/special projects.
The advantage of  separate partitions is to make backing-up easier. You do back-up don't you?

Other Partitions
Allow some space for:
  • virtual machines running under VirtualBox, VMware, Qemu and the rest. So next time you can try this stuff out in virtual hardware before the real thing.
  • another operating system (micro-something-or-other if you're mad enough to dual-boot).
  • a place for storing backups, or disk images of any/all the above, ideally on a separate physical hard drive.
  • swap space - how much? At risk of starting a war, I venture 'better too much than not enough'. Try a size between 100% and 150% the size of your machine's memory, say two to three gigabytes for a machine with 2Gb RAM.
  • Choose your filesystems for each partition. Ubuntu suggests ext4 by default. In most comparative tests Ext4  significantly outperforms XFS, JFS, ReiserFS, Ext2 and Ext3.
That's about it for now.  RC

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