• Considerations
  • Repartitioning
  • Which File system To Choose
  • Partition Schemes
  • Resizing Windows Partitions Using 'Fips 2.0'
Section index - KB index


In most cases, you'll want to keep your old operating system(s). Use your remaining space for a Mandriva installation. Coexistence isn't a problem for Mandriva. Please keep in mind the amount of disk space needed by Mandriva.
A minimum installation of Mandriva uses some 250MB. Three GB is fine and more is better. A complete installation of Mandriva (all packages) uses - depending on release - up to 6 GB. 3 GB of disk space for the LINUX software should be more than enough for an average workstation. In addition to the operating system and applications, you will need space for your emails, files and downloaded applications that are not pre-packaged with Mandriva. You should reserve at least 8 GB space for Mandriva. You don't have to worry about 'primary' or 'logical' partitions, first or second hard disk since you can install Linux on either.

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Mandriva comes with its own graphical free repartitioner, '~DiskDrake', which allows you to create, delete and resize Linux and Windows partitions without losing data during installation. It also has an 'automatic mode' which requires no user intervention at all. As with all repartitioning tools, however, you are advised to backup your data first.

You can avoid repartitioning by using other tools such as VMWare or Lin4Win. These tools will create a virtual partition on top of your existing MS-Windows partition. Even though these virtual tools provide different options for running Microsoft Windows, you may notice performance and stability are improved if you decide to run Mandriva in its own file system.

If you happen to have a proprietary program like Partition Manager, Partition Magic or the Ranish Partition Manager, you can create, move and resize ntfs, fat32 and ext2 partitions non-destructively. Please review the manufacturers notes as to whether these applications support journaled file systems (i.e. ReiserFS, JFS or XFS). Ext3 is a file system type. Ext3 is compatible with ext2 and you can resize it (see below). Resizing of your hard drive contains a risk of loss of data. When resizing partitions, please make a backup of all data that you do not want to risk losing.

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Which File system To Choose

Starting with 8.1, Mandriva offers quite an array of file systems: the traditional ext2 as well as the journaling file systems ~ReiserFS, ext3, JFS and XFS. A journaling file system keeps a log ('journal') of all data transactions. In case of hardware failure, no data on the disk will be lost.

By default, 8.1 uses ~ReiserFS, by some regarded as the most mature journaling file system. ~ReiserFS however still has problems with exporting NFS shares, and some people object to the policies and philosophy of Hans Reiser and his company. Both JFS and XFS have big companies behind them: IBM for JFS and SGI for XFS. XFS will be of special interest for all SAMBA users, since it is currently the only file system which allows the implementation of Windows ACLs.

The goal of 'ext3' is maximum compatibility with the traditional ext2 file system. In fact, it is possible to switch between ext2 and ext3 without losing data, which is a unique feature, since changing a file system usually involved formatting a partition. Ext3 might be the best if you want a journaling file system with high compatibility.

But there isn't anything wrong with staying with the well-proven ext2 file system, either. It still is the best supported file system, and you can switch to ext3 and back at any time.

'Which file system is the best' is poised to become another of those pointless, but fun community in-fights ...

You should also have a Mandriva One CD in order to be able to backup your data even when your LINUX does not start any more. Or you can also use a KNOPPIX CD to do this. However check, if this CD supports all your file systems which you are using. And do not forget to verify your backup DVDs if everything went fine.

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Partition Schemes

Compared to operating systems like MS-Windows, partitions only play a minor role in Mandriva. During runtime you won't recognize their existence at all, since the Mandriva file system does not depend on them.

Basically, you need but two partitions: one mounted at '/' (the 'root' partition), which holds all the data, programs, libraries etc and one for the 'swap file' which serves as virtual system memory.

Traditionally, '/home', which contains the home directories of all users on the system (except 'root') is also on a partition of its own. This comes in handy when upgrading the system: you can tell the installer to format all partitions except '/home' and thus you'll keep your personal files. It's also handy when you do experimental stuff on your box: just unmount '/home' and your personal files are safe. It also has some advantages for making backups since you can use the 'do not traverse file systems' switch most synchronizing / backup tools offer. The size for '/home' depends on various factors: number of users, amount and size of emails you want to save, etc. On a single user system 2000 MB should be enough.

You should be fine with this basic setup in most situations. This is also the setup the installer applies to your machine when running in non-interactive mode.

Of course you can go on from here: many people put '/usr', '/var' and '/tmp' on separate partitions. The reasoning here is that the '/' partition which contains all the system critical data like configuration file in '/etc' or programs needed by 'init' in '/bin' and '/sbin' should be accessed as little as possible by a running system, thus minimizing the risk of data or disk corruption. It also makes mounting '/' in system repair mode easier.
In such a setup, you won't need more than 100 MB for '/' and perhaps 50 MB for '/tmp'. The size of '/var' can vary widely. You'll need more space on '/var' if you are running servers like Apache, Postfix, MySQL etc, since these store their data on '/var'. For an occasional, i.e. local, use of those, 500 MB suffice. If you run these services globally, 2000 MB and more might be needed.

How large should a swap partition be? The vast majority of Linux system will do just fine with a 100 MB swap partition, regardless of the amount of RAM in the machine. On machines with a large amount of RAM (more than 256 MB), swap will hardly be used, machines with a small amount of RAM (less than 64 MB) will stay slow even you assign 500 MB to swap.
If your machine needs more than 100 MB swap, it is too slow for most users anyway. You should then consider getting more RAM or using less memory intensive programs. This means that you should not use any graphical environment at all or the IceWm window manager as well as only few services.

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Resizing Windows Partitions Using 'Fips 2.0'

(Note: Since Mandriva now comes with its own lossless partitioning tool, this paragraph is only of interest for users of pre-7.0 Mandriva releases.)

M comes with the free DOS based non-destructive partition re-sizer 'fips' ('dosutilsfips20'). Fips will split existing primary FAT16 and FAT32 (DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 9x) partitions and create a new primary partition. It is a console program, but really easy to handle. The whole process usually doesn't take more than 15 minutes.


'Fips' will only split primary partitions. If you want to split your 'C:' drive, this restriction is of no importance to you, since C: always resides on a primary partition.
If you want to split a drive other than C:, you want to check if it is on a primary partition: open a DOS-Window and type 'fdisk'. Choose option '4' to show the partition table. If the drive you want to split is marked 'PRI', everything's OK.


Run Windows' own defragmentation program on the drive you want to split: Open 'My Computer', get the right-click context menu for the drive, choose 'Properties' - 'Extras' - 'Optimize'.

Now prepare a boot-diskette. Put a diskette into your diskette drive and choose 'format' from the context menu in 'My Computer'.
If the diskette is blank, mark 'Only copy system files' and hit 'Start'. If the diskette has data on it, mark 'full format' and 'Copy system files'. Hit 'Start'.

Copy 'fips.exe', 'restorrb.exe' and 'errors.txt' from the 'Fips20' directory of your Mandrake CD to your new boot-diskette.
Leave the disk in the drive.

Running 'Fips'

Note: You can stop 'Fips' at any time by hitting CTRL-c. Also note that there is no key table loaded. You might have to hit 'z' to get 'y'.

  • Reboot. The system should now boot off the diskette. If not, you have to change the boot order in your computers' BIOS.
  • Type 'fips'. If your system features multiple partitions, it will ask you, which partition you want to split.
  • It runs some checks and then asks you if you want to make a backup of your boot-sector. Type 'y'. Also answer 'y' to the next question about the diskette. 'Fips' then writes the backup to your boot-diskette.
  • Now you should see something like this:
Old partition Cylinder New Partition 235MB 134 1736.4MB

The left value shows you the minimum size that will be reserved for your 'old' partition, the right value the maximum size your new partition will have. The 'Cylinder' value isn't really important here.
Adjust these values by using the 'left' and 'right' arrow keys on your keyboard. If you are splitting a C: drive, you might at least reserve 500MB for the old partition.
Hit the 'Enter' key when you're done.

  • Now 'Fips' will run another test and then present you the new partition table. You now have the chance to reedit the table or create it.
  • 'Fips' now runs the final test and asks you if you want it to write the new partition scheme to the hard disk. There have been no changes written to disk until now. Answer 'y'.
  • That's it1.1 Reboot, change the BIOS boot order to boot from CD-Rom first and go right into installing Mandriva. If you reboot into Windows again, note that some drive letters will have changed. They will revert to their old values once you have installed GNU/Linux onto the new partition.
You'll find more information in 'fips.doc', but you probably won't them.

section index

Related Resources:

Partition mini-HOWTO
File systems HOWTO
Prope r Filesystem Layout
ext3 website (Red Hat)
JFS website
~ReiserFS website
XFS website

Revision / Modified: Sep. 20, 2001
Author: Tom Berger

Legal: This page is covered by the GNU Free Documentation License. Standard disclaimers of warranty apply. Copyright LSTB and Mandriva SA.

KB - Welcome to Mandriva Club Knowledge Base > Installation > Partitions
Version 1.15 last modified by Flink on 21/07/2006 at 08:06

Comments (3)

ymartin59 | 21.07.2005 at 12:29 PM
What about NTFS partition resizing for Windows XP pre-installed by vendors ?

Bernard Wolfrom | 10.12.2005 at 03:37 PM
Only solution I found was to use "Partition 9" from Micro Application; works perfect… 40 euros however…

Flink | 21.01.2006 at 12:59 PM
Fips 2.0

I think FIPS is not used any more. So the documentation for Fips should be deleted here.


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Creator: AdminWiki on 2004/03/22 09:44
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