3.5:     Partitioning the hard drive


Before starting the install, you may wish to prepare the partitions on your hard drive to install MEPIS Linux 7.0. You can do this during installation, but it is recommended that you do it before starting the install. Note that some older hardware may require a restart after the partition tables are edited.

About partitioning

To prepare the hard drive for MEPIS Linux 7.0, it is recommended that you create three partitions: one for the root of the filesystem, one for the user home directories, and one for swap (virtual memory). You do not have to create a separate home, but it makes upgrades easier and protects against problems caused by users filling up the drive.

How big should the partitions be?

Hard drive names in MEPIS Linux

Before you begin editing partitions, it is critical that you understand how MEPIS Linux (and other Linux operating systems) refers to hard drives and hard drive partitions.

Unlike Windows, which assigns a “drive letter” to each of your hard drive partitions, MEPIS Linux 7.0 assigns a short device name to each hard drive or storage device on a system. The device names always start with sd plus a single letter. For instance, the first drive on your system will be sda, the second sdb, etc. Within each drive every partition is referred to as a number appended to the device name.

Thus, for instance, “sda1” would be the first partition on the first hard drive, while “sdb3” would be the third partition on the second drive. It is important to understand the difference between referring to an entire device (such as sda) and a partition on the device (such as sda1).

Resizing an NTFS partition

Resizing an NTFS (Windows NT File System) partition with Gparted is generally a painless and simple procedure. However there are some small risks, particularly if your hard drive is old or very full. You can mitigate these risks by taking the following steps on your Windows installation (consult your online Windows help (F1) if you are unsure how to perform any of these tasks):

Resizing steps:
  1. From the LiveCD click KMenu --> System --> Filesystem --> GParted. NOTE: if for some reason GParted doesn't work right, you can try a similar program QTParted that's also installed, and cfdisk is a good command line utility.
  2. In GParted select the drive then select the partition. Note that you can only resize the partition where MEPIS Linux itself is installed by using the LiveCD.
  3. Right-click on the partition and select “Resize”. Choose the new size of the partition. The free space that will remain will be used for MEPIS Linux installation; make sure the “free space after” resizing is larger than the minimum required size for your version of MEPIS Linux (see minimum/recommended specifications). Click “OK”
  4. Right-click on the “free” partition and select “Create”.
  5. Select Partition Type: linux-swap. Enter the size you have chosen. Click “OK”.
  6. Right-click on the “free” partition and select “Create”.
  7. Select Ext3 and allot the amount of space you have chosen for root. Click “OK”.
  8. Repeat the last steps to create a partition for home.
  9. Click on the disk icon or go to File --> Commit, respond “Yes” to the dialog. GParted will now repartition your drive; at the end you should get a message that the operation was completed successfully.
  10. Very Important! Note down the partition numbers/names as displayed in the new partition layout (e.g., sda3). You will need this information when choosing what partition number/name to install Mepis on, and to ensure that you do not overwrite your Windows partition!

Other partitioning considerations