Partitioning for 300GB

My new Seagate Barracuda 300GB hard drive just arrived. I’ll need some time to redo my entire computer (currently there are 4 operating systems). Whenever I purchase a new harddrive (about once ever 2 years) I always put some serious evaluation into how I will partition it.

Some points I consider

  • Windows is primary operating system
  • A second Windows should be possible
  • Windows should have at least seperate ‘applications’ and ‘work’ partitions
  • Multiple Linux distributions should be possible (2-3)
  • Swap partition can be shared in Linux
  • At least /home partition should be shared in Linux

In truth I only have about 3-4 GB of actual work and about 6-8 GB of media to save. I also do not play any games or do any major video editting which leaves for a great deal of flexibility.

The 300GB is misleading. Given 300x1000^3 bytes, you will actually have about 279GB since each KB is 1024 bytes and so forth.

My current scheme for 279GB:

  • NTFS - Primary - 16GBWindows 2000 (currently using)
  • NTFS - Primary - 16GBWindows XP (testing only)
  • NTFS - Primary - 16GBOpen (possibly Windows Vista?)
  • Extended – remaining
    • NTFS - 40GBApplications (shared all Windows)
    • NTFS - 40GBData/Work (including all saved materials + including Media)
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 1 – Latest Fedora Core Release
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 2 – Previous Fedora Core Release
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 3 – Latest Fedora Core Test Release
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 4 – Possible x86_64 (pending hardware purchase)
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 5 – to be determined
    • EXT3 - 14GB – Linux 6 – to be determined
    • EXT3 - 32GB/home – shared
    • EXT3 - 32GB/data – shared
    • SWAP - 2GB

Some notes I would like to mention from experience and what I’ve researched.

  • Bootable Partitions – There are no /boot partitions required since the newer bootloaders (i.e. grub) and modern BIOS’s do not impose any limitations on booting from an Extended partition. However Windows has always been fussy, hence I leave them on a Primary partition regardless.
  • Multiple Distributions – I am not sure if I need space for 6 different distributions, although if I do purchase an AMD 64bit system in the near future, then this will be required as I may wish to test as many 64bit Linux distributions as 32bit.
  • Multiple Windows – Additionally I’m not sure if I wish to test 2 alternate Windows versions. Currently Windows 2000 suits my needs, but future hardware may force me to use XP or something else.
  • NTFS vs FAT32 – Currently FAT32 is read and write in Linux, however NTFS is read-only. There are some options for write to NTFS, but I don’t find them very reliable. Using FAT32 in the past has caused data loss multiple times, hence I no longer use it.
  • SWAP – I recall reading that you should have at least as much swap as you do have physical memory to support things like Software Suspend to Disk (S4 – “Hibernate”). I currently have 1GB memory, if I upgrade to 2GB, I may require more space.
  • LVM – Logical Volume Management – I lack experience in LVM but with my current configuration, every single operating system can at least read every other partition (e.g. EXT3 in Windows). I am unsure how I can achieve this using LVM.

There will probably be some reassigned space before I decide on the final layout, but I am sure the above will work well for me.

I am not recommending the above for anyone! This is only just some planned out reasoning so that I never really have to sacrifice any properly configured operating system so I can try or experiment with a new OS. For anyone who may comment about emulation or virtualization – I do not feel it is practical to truly test certain aspects of the OS.


  1. Seems well thought out. Even as late as ~2000, I was still under the naive assumption that having the entire ~18GB as a single NTFS partition was enough for my Windows 2000 install (i.e. including installing applications). Of course when I later added new hard drives I now use them exclusively for new applications and data/work. If I had the time and energy, I’d do a complete restructure (and install Windows XP) but the system is still quite snappy (I attribute this to using SCSI drives).

  2. rjbond3rd

    …”Using FAT32 in the past has caused data loss multiple times, hence I no longer use it…”

    I’m guessing this happens in either Windows or Linux, as a result of the non-robust FAT32 itself, rather than anything particular to Linux?

  3. rjbond3rd: The typical scenario is this. I would be edditing a rather large file on disk (between 300MB to 2GB). If something happened (application crash, system reset, etc.) then I wouldn’t just lose my changes, but I would lose the entire file. Later I found out this would be a problem in how FAT32 commits its changes to disk. NTFS doesn’t have this problem, but at the same time, I can no longer write to it in Linux.

    Comparison, most all my problems with FAT32 were in Windows, however I have had on occasion problems in Linux, but VERY rarely.

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