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What does :


stand for? What does it mean?

I have both Fedora and Ubuntu installed and if I explore them using Ext2explore from windows, I see these names :


Please explain me what does that mean? I mean the numbers there and also the /dev/sda/.

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TL;DR: It has to do with the way linux (and all unixes) name their drives, much in the way that windows uses C:, D:, etc. (NOTE: This is what we call a metaphor. In other words, a blatant lie that helps people understand without being even remotely accurate. Read on for a more detailed explanation...)

  • /dev/ is the part in the unix directory tree that contains all "device" files -- unix traditionally treats just about everything you can access as a file to read from or write to.

  • sd originally identified a SCSI device, but since the wildgrowth of USB (and other removable) data carriers it became a catch-all for any block device (another unix term; in this context, anything capable of carrying data) that wasn't already accessible via IDE. When SATA came around, the developers figured it'd be much easier and much more convenient for everyone to add it into the existing framework rather than write a whole new framework.

  • The letter immediately after sd signifies the order in which it was first found -- a,b,c...z, Aa...Az... etc. (Not that there are many situations in the real world where more than 26 discrete block devices are on the same bus...)

  • Finally, the number after that signifies the partition on the device. Note that because of the rather haphazard way PCs handle partitioning there are only four "primary" partitions, so the numbering will be slightly off from the actual count. This isn't a terrible problem as the main purpose for the naming scheme is to have a unique and recognizable identifier for each partition found in this manner...

So /dev/sda9 means the ninth partition on the first drive.

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I didn't understand the third point. Can you please help me in that – saplingPro Feb 27 '13 at 11:24
Meaning that the first device found would be sda, the second would be sdb, and so on until the 26th device would be called sdz and the system would start with sdAa if you wind up having more devices than that... – Shadur Feb 27 '13 at 13:58
okay ! thank you :) – saplingPro Mar 1 '13 at 7:48
+1 for the metaphor description – cheflo Aug 6 '14 at 21:57
/dev/sd[A-Z][a-z] actually is considered invalid by AWS now, unless it requires extra configuration. – cxdf Jan 11 at 21:04

/dev is your filesystem representation of devices your system understands

sd is for (originally) removable scsi devices, however it seems to now refer to removable devices in general and SATA devices

and the letter is just the number of the device, starting at a, with the number indicating the partition.

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Wrong. 1) SATA devices also get the sd marker. 2) The letter marks the number of the device, the number following the letter marks the partition. – Shadur Feb 27 '13 at 10:40
corrected - thanks - dunno what I was thinking there :-) – Rory Alsop Feb 27 '13 at 10:43
can you clarify this : "/dev is your filesystem representation of devices your system understands" . I didn't quite understand what does that mean – saplingPro Feb 27 '13 at 10:49
It means that unix has a much different way of looking at hardware and filesystems than windows, and /dev/ is a part of that. I'm elaborating on that a bit in my answer. – Shadur Feb 27 '13 at 10:52

sd originates from the driver sd-mod. It literally stands for scsi disk.

The reason (S)ATA disks are also listed as SCSI disks is, SCSI commands pretty much provides a superset of features that can be provided by ATA commands, therefore modern systems (including Windows, AFAIK) will have an implementation of SCSI-ATA Translation Layer (SATL) in the system (in Linux it is provided by the libata driver) to talk to the (S)ATA disks, while the upper layer of the system can be generalized.

As you may not aware of, USB drives "speaks" SCSI (i.e. takes and responds to SCSI commands), no matter if it supports the USB Attached SCSI Protocol or not. Also, most of the USB HDDs/SSDs are SATA disks bridged to USB. For those the bridge provides the SATL, but not the operating system.

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