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Linux Partitions


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I have three paritions: dev/sda1 & dev/sda6 & dev/sdb1

the last throughs me, I think that is for the vmware program I am running.

How do I know which partition is for what?

& How do I format each(specific commands would be great-or a link to them)


I feel like I have taken a big step in a new world with a a friend of mine, as we have completely let go of using only the Windows XP of the world and are learning the Linux Life. I have installed Mandriva Linus PowerPack and am learning a lot!


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Welcome aboard :)


To answer your question: the easiest way would be the following approach: Go to the Mandriva control center (MCC, aka "Configure your computer") and take a look at the section where you manage your partitions, You will get to a graphical tool that will show you all information.

Don't change the settings for now!, just look at them. Otherwise you might bork up your system, as you are still inexperienced with Linux. If something needs to be changed, ask us how to proceed. We will guide you through the process of adjusting your system to your needs.

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Welcome to MUB,


"SD" partitions are for "Special Devices" such as External Harddrives and CF cards. Your "normal" partitions are usually on "HDA" or the main harddrive. Tho I prefer Arctic's method personnally, you can also enter the following via a terminal window to list your harddrive's partitions and it will give you some usefull info:


sda1 and sda6 should be on the same drive... where sdb will be another drive.


You have any USB drives, card readers, zip drives, etc. installed on this system?

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The sd devices refer to external drives connected to either usb or firewire ports on your computer (or even serial / parallel ports if you have old zip drives or whatever).


The easiest way to find out which is which, is to mount them. Mandriva might have automatically have mounted them already. I haven't used it for a while though, so I can't tell you if that's true. But if it has, you can run:

$ fstab

To see where it has mounted them to and then browse those directories (or check the icons on your desktop) to see which is which.


If they aren't mounted, post and we'll help you make it so.


As for formatting, in Linux we usually do things a little differently. First, we partition using fdisk - but for mass storage devices this usually isn't necessary / possible. So all that remains is to make a filesystem on the device, this will also wipe out everything on it. I like reiserfs, so I would use the mkreiserfs command, but vfat is the best file system for removable devices.


Formatting isn't necessary though, just delete the files inside with a rm -rvf. ;)

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Just to add, scsi and sata drives also appear as sdx devices. I had a system with two sata drives, and I had four partitions configured on them as:














in answer to your question about formatting for certain file systems, depends on your requirements. Linux partitions are as follows, commands first, and then what filesystem type it creates follows it:


mke2fs (ext2 file system - no journaling).

mke2fs -j (creates ext3 file system - same as above, but with journaling).

mkreiserfs (creates reiserfs file system).

mkfs.xfs (creates xfs file system).


Journaling is where log files get replayed for transactions that were about to take place and be written to disk. ext2 doesn't have any, so if it crashes during something important, oops!


if you want FAT32 partitions to share with Linux, I usually create with Windows, then you don't get any headaches. Same with NTFS, since NTFS support for read/write is very limited in Linux.

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this is awesome( these forums that is) okay: here is why I ask because I think somthing is a little amiss here.

yesterday I had three partitions sda1 sda6 and sdb1


today I have sda1 sda6 and sdf1 ? why it changed to "f" on the third I don't know? anyone have an explanation for that.


Outside of that, from doing a lot of reading at the site we're on, I noticed a lot of people formating their partitions for certain reasons, i.e. to file dowloads in certain areas, something called SWAP etc. I am not familiar with the why nor the how on that. I have actaully read the MadrakeLinux manual to try and help, from which I am getting some things but it seems that I am just missing something. :thanks:

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This would be easier if we knew what those devices are - are they SATA hdd partitions?


As for why it changed to sdf - this depends on your setup. I'm not sure if Mandriva is using udev now or how it tackles devs, so I'll leave that one to somebody more knowledgable - needless to say, it doesn't change anything and if you set an fstab entry for that device, it would stay constant.


There is a lot to be said about partitioning and it is something we have discussed on the board ad nauseum. Generally, Linux only needs two partitions; a root (/) and a swap (/swap).


Here is wikipedia's article on swap partitions (see 'Virtual Memory in Linux').


Now, some people like to split their partitions more than that - for, say, their /home folders; this allows them to turf other partitions to reinstall or whatever, without effecting their home / user files - you get the idea.


I have /boot, /swap, / and /home. So my kernels I spent much time compiling live safely in /boot and all my user files in /home. If I want to reinstall Gentoo (or another distro), I merely take out root (/) and leave the rest in tact.

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