As much as many people are moved to do PC partitions, they do not have enough information about the types of partitions available. We are going to look at the master boot record (MBR) partitioning scheme, which is common in Linux, DOS, MS Windows and others, for the computer systems that are compatible with PCs. You may find it necessary to see examples of the partitioning schemes applicable to operating systems for you to understand this better.
The entire hard disk space of a personal computer (PC) hard disk drive (HDD) can have up to four primary partitions, or in some instances three primary partitions coupled with an extended partition.
The major distinguishing feature of a primary partition is a one file system. In DOS and earlier versions on the MS Windows systems, Microsoft made it mandatory that the system partition be the primary partition. All the Windows OS from the Windows 95 and later can easily be located on any files, however, all the boot files have to be located on the primary partition. There a number of factors including PC BIOS that may impose unique requirements for the partition type that has to contain the primary operating system.
There are two major requirements for the partition type code for a primary partition. In the first case they correspond to one of the file systems contained within, for example 0x07 implies an OS/2 HPFS or an NFTS file systems. In the second case they indicate that the partition has a unique use, for example code 0x82 typically indicates a Linux swap partition. The FAT32 and FAT16 file systems make use of some partition codes because of the limitations of many Windows and DOS operating system versions. Despite the fact that a Linux OS is likely to recognize most of the file system including ReiserFS, ext2, ext3, and ext4, they have since been using the just one partition code, the 0x83 also known as Linux native system.
A hard disk drive (HDD) may at time contain a single extended partition. However, the extended partition may be subdivided into many logical partitions. The Windows/DOS systems can at times assigned a special drive letter to every logical partition.
OS/2, Windows, and DOS
If you intend to partition the OS/2, DOS, MS Windows, the commonest practice is use of one partition for the active file system and this will as well contain the OS, all utilities, user data, applications, and the swap/page file. Most of the Windows consumer computers assign the drive letter C to primary partition. There are partitions on the hard disk drive that the may or may not be appear to the user as drivers, these include partitions bearing diagnostic tools or data, and recovery partitions. Usually, the Microsoft drive letters don’t correspond to the partitions directly, thus there might be fewer or more drive letters than the number of partitions.
MS Windows 7, Vista, XP and Windows 2000 have a unique disk management program that makes it possible to create, delete, and resize NTFS and FAT partitions. Windows 7 and Windows Vista have Windows Disk Manager that utilizes a 1 Mb partition alignment scheme that is basically incompatible with XP, DOS, OS/2, and Windows 2000 and a couple other operating systems.
Unix and Unix-Like systems
If you are using Unix-based and Unix-like Oss like Solaris, GNU/Linux, BSD, and OS X, you can use multiple partitions on a hard disk device. You can format each of the partitions as a swap partition, or with a file system.
If you have multiple partitions, it will be possible to allocate directories like /home, /tmp, /var, or /usr to individual files systems. Schemes like these have many advantages:
• If any of the filesystems gets corrupted there are high chances that the data outside the partition/filesystems will be corrupted and this greatly minimizes data loss
• The user can allocate different parameters to each of the file systems can
• If there is a runaway program that uses all the non-system filesystem space doesn’t fill up the vital filesystems
Most users of Linux/GNU desktop systems prefer using toe partitions on their PC, a swap partition and one that holds a file system mounted on the root directory.
All the OS X systems use one partition for all filesystem, and don’t use a swap partition, but rather a swap file located in the file system.
In Solaris, partitions can be called slices, a conceptual reference to slicing a cake into many pieces.
Mixed-boot systems and Multi-boot
Multi-boot systems result when users booth into one if at least two distinct OS stored in separate storage devices, or separate partitions of a storage device. In such cases a menu at startup allows the user choose the OS to start, and can load just one OS at a go.
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