Blank canvass challenge (suggestions for disk formatting)

Hello All,

In the next few days I should take delivery of my new laptop and am mulling on the best way to partition the disk. The laptop will have 8GB Ram and a 1TB HDD (not SSD)

I don’t want to have windows but am open to having multiple distros although my initial thoughts are just for one. I’m not a heavy media (music/pics/videos) user although I have a few GB of such to backup from my old laptop.

My first thoughts:

Boot: 65MB
/: 200GB
Swap: 2GB
/home: 500GB

I know this doesn’t add up to 1TB hence me asking for opinions/ideas/innovative ways to partition.

Welcome thoughts…will be using Ubuntu mate of course!



Just a few thoughts from me - It was just the other day I gave my Dell Inspiron Duo a complete re-partition - for a triple boot! :computer:


I presume it'll be a modern laptop with UEFI / EFI, in which you'd use GPT and have no limits. But if it's a BIOS machine, you may need to use MBR for its partition table, which is limited to 4 primary partitions. In that case, you'd want to create an extended partition (classed as 1 primary partition) and add many logical partitions inside it, which Linux will happily boot from. (Windows would complain :wink:)

Like I say, I presume it'll be EFI/GPT ready, but others reading this may still have BIOS machines and make the mistake of trying GPT, which needs EFI/UEFI hardware to boot, I believe.

/boot looks a little small

Since it also stores the kernels to boot your system, I suggest at minimum 200 MB, 500 MB should give plenty of room. My Duo used over 60 MB / 200 MB (30%) for just one kernel and this will grow with updates unless these remove older kernels are manually removed.

Swap looks good!

I have 7.8 GiB (8 GB) of RAM on my desktop too, with a 4 GiB swap "just in case" -- If I'm using way too much memory, generally I won't swap over 2 GiB, so that's a good choice :thumbsup:

If you wish to hibernate the computer, you'd need a swap the size of the RAM (8 GiB).... but this feature is rarely used since it's temperamental or doesn't work... which is why it's disabled by default.

I suppose this one is just preference, but if you wish to increase or abolish the swap partition later, it may be easier at the end the disk instead of in the middle.... I suppose in its current place that space could be given to /, should you scrap the swap later.

If /home is to be shared across distros

If you do intend to install multiple distros later, I would recommend keeping the /home separate, as it may cause conflicts and mismatching settings, depending on the other environments. You could create a Data partition and symbolic link your personal folders if that's the case.

Watch out for GiB or GB

Tools like GParted use the Gigibyte prefix, which is 1024 MiB = 1 GiB. Others use gigabytes, 1000 MB = 1 GB. Beware if you see 931 GiB in one tool and then see 1 TB (1000 GB) in another, such as gnome-disks.

Windows is a liar! It actually calculates hard disks in GiBs, but displays the GB prefix, just as a little fact.

Otherwise, good luck! GParted is an excellent choice for shrinking partitions if you wish to install more distros. There is no right or wrong way to partition, whatever works best for you! :smile:

Ah yes of course, showing my age now, it will be a GPT disk.

so /boot of 200MB (yes terminology - I should have got it right), /swap
of 2GB / of 200GB and /home (yes always a separate partition for me) of

That leaves around 297 ot so GB so perhaps use that for a second OS
(another distro) ?

Sound about right?


Sounds good! :thumbsup: This can start to muddle me after being incorrectly wired to think 1 GB = 1024 MB, which is false. I’ve made mistakes with incorrect sizes of disk images because of that difference.

Disk = 1 TB = 931.32 GiB

/boot = 200 MB = 191 MiB
/ = 200 GB = 186 GiB (190735 MiB)
Swap = 2 GB = 1.86 GiB (1907 MiB)
/home = 500 GB = 465.7 GiB (476836 MiB)
Unallocated = 297.8 GB = 277.35 GiB (284004 MiB)

Google’s Calculator is quite useful for converting measurements.

SI prefixes = kilo / mega / giga / tera
IEC standard = kibi / mebi / gibi / tebi

I think I’m on the right page now. :book:

If you plan to partition using the regular installer’s “Custom” option - the familiar, easier MB/GB is used,. Partition tools like GParted (can be found on the live session) use IEC - but it’s a great tool for managing, resizing and moving partitions later. :slight_smile:

Yes quite right to mention it. Many years ago I was a computer engineer
(v.rusty now (I was a VMS guy (remember that?) - hate windows still) so
I guess I’m hard wired just to consider the differences in my head and
round the numbers to easy (si) ones, but you are quite right to point
this out, it is a really important distinction. I bet there have been
complaints to shops of “my 2GB disk is only 186GB!” :slight_smile:

Great tip re gparted.



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