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Back in the old days of PC-DOS 3.1, computers are much simpler than today's. I can learn a lot of how File System works with tools like PCTools, Norton Disk Doctor, and Have been working exclusive in corporate database application area for over a decade, my knowledge of how these stuff work is diminishing. Standard-clean OS (Windows, Linux) installation is all I can do now. And it starts to cause me many data-loss troubles, when I have to perform something that I don't have much insight, such as install and remove peer linux os or move and resize partitions.

I'm looking for books, web resources, or communities where I can educate myself on how various file system works, for which I can have in-depth answer to questions such as:

  • How to remove ubuntu and grub2 ? (I recently did that, but with a lot of frustration when I was not really sure what I was doing and confront with some scary error message like "Missing BootMgr"
  • What kind of disk-partitioning operation can be performed non-destructively, and why ?
  • What is Active partition ? Primary Parition ? Extended Partition ? How it stored on the disk.
  • There are many free partitioning tools out there, which one is safe to used ?
  • NTFS, Ext3, Ext4, .. What the differences ? How to choose it wisely.
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This site claims to be a "A place to learn a lot about a lot!"

It's an in-depth tutorial on the partitioning software GParted. Along the way you'll learn to not only use GParted, but also learn about partition types and how they can be manipulated.

There's also a good 'Recommended reading material' section towards the end with some useful links.

This is a good place to start.

To answer your second-last and last dot points:

  • All partitioning software caries a risk of something going wrong. Having said that, I've used GParted on numerous occasions and have never had a problem. The key is to back-up anything you can't afford to lose prior to manipulating file systems.
  • The differences between NTFS and ext2/3/4 are that NTFS is the native Microsoft file system whilst ext2/3/4 is a native Linux file system. The way permissions are handled varies between these systems, but there are many other differences. A wise choice for a Linux system is ext4 and for a Windows system, NTFS is really the only sensible choice at this point.
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Don't overlook wikipedia. Although Wikipedia targets a general audience, it is very reliable and accurate in all domains in general and in IT in general. If in addition you master several languages, you can browse though several complementary articles dealing with the same subject.

  • The article about the MBR for instance is very informative. It has a link to the Volume Boot Record so that you understand the difference. This will help you interpret correctly questions from Grub or GParted.

  • The Ext4 article lists the differences with Ext3.

  • Same for NTFS, Gparted (with a nice at-a-glance compatibility matrix).

Overall Wikipedia articles in the topics you mention are a fast tract to already well summarised, well structured and up to date knowledge. Because it is reviewed by so many specialists, you know that what you read there is "the truth".

Give it a try.

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