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Okay I'm not 100% sure if this question belongs here or the unix stack exchange.

I consulted the following thread(s) on superuser and while helpful don't answer my questions: Dual Boot Windows 7 + Linux on 2 separate SDD + Data HDD

I ordered a new gaming laptop / desktop replacement a week ago. It will have two drives:

Intel 330 120GB SSD installed in the primary HDD bay (SATA-III) 750GB 7200RPM HDD installed in an ODD (optical disc drive) caddy (SATA-II 16MB cache)

I'd like to get my partition plan in order before the laptop gets here. My main concern is gaming performance under Windows, but I also plan to do some development under Linux in the future (some game development, some non). [When there is better native support for Linux gaming I will do away with Windows completely. Until then I'm stuck with it.]

I know for sure I'll be installing Windows 8 to the SSD. I will also be installing some of my most played games to this drive for performance/load time reasons, and using the HDD to store other games that I play less often or that don't require a ton of performance (or games that are just too large!).

My question pertains to how best to partition these drives for dual booting Windows 8 and Linux while still conserving a "fair" amount of space for the Windows partition and also getting "best performance possible while utilizing the least amount of space on the SSD" under Linux.

Are there certain directories (partitions) under linux that would benefit more from being installed to or mounted on an SSD over an HDD? E.g. would it be best to install "/" to the SSD and /users to the HDD (with the added benefit of easily backing up my users dir!).

Or should I just install Linux in its entirety to its own partition on the HDD? Do you think I would notice any significant performance degradation by running Linux off the HDD vs running it off an SSD?

A few other things to note:

My linux distro of choice is Arch with the i3 window manager, so I would assume boot time into Linux off an HDD would be fast anyways.

The machine will have 16GB of RAM, so I can (and most likely will) disable swap in Linux and also the hiberfile and pagefile under Windows, on the assumption that the 16GB of RAM is overkill and I won't even utilize half of it.

If there's any additional input you may have related to this it and any assistance you give is appreciated!

share|improve this question
Pretty sure this question belongs here - I've just asked an analogous question on Serverfault - but mine deals with setup of a server. Serverfault is, from what I can tell, for system administrators, Superuser for enthusiasts. – davidgo Mar 11 '13 at 20:02
Thank you, David, that was my understanding as well. – rollhax Mar 11 '13 at 21:09
up vote 2 down vote accepted

A solid state drive only improves disk I/O speed, i.e. accessing, moving, editing... files. Once the game loads, it's entirely up to the RAM, GPU and CPU. Installing your games on a SSD will only make them load faster. I'd advise you to partition your SSD to have both you distro's system partition and Windows' system partition on it, since the system is constantly accessing files.

I'd also create a data partition on the SSD to store documents, music, video and other files I constantly need to access, since they'll load faster on it then they would on the HDD. Creating a data partition is a good idea in your case because it can be accessed from both operating systems.

As for the HDD I'd use most of it's free space for Windows, since games take up a lot of space. The remaining free space I'd leave for the GNU/Linux packages you may install - keep in mind your personal files are on your data partition on the SDD.

share|improve this answer
You make a good point, although I would add there are instances I've seen in some online games where it was required to (e.g.) load a new texture dynamically, and in some cases this has caused lag for me (although that may also be due to the age of the desktop/hard drive I was using or poor programming techniques by the game devs). Could you elaborate more on which directories I would move to the HDD in regards to installed packages? – rollhax Mar 11 '13 at 21:05
Here is a good guide on GNU/Linux partitions. You can do the partitioning in multiple ways, it depends on how you intend to use your distro - will you install multiple packages? Will you have lot's of documents (music, video...)? etc... Just keep in mind / should be in the SSD if you want the system files to be in it, /home is where personal data is stored, and packages are usually under /usr. You could create a separate /usr partition on the HDD, sparing space on the SSD, but I don't know if that wouldn't affect performance. – Alex Mar 11 '13 at 22:31
You don't even need to create separate /home partitions, just having /home and C:\Users\USER folders on the SSD linking to folders in a separate data partition (NTFS or FAT) on the SSD will allow you to access those folders from both OSs, and you can uninstall any of them without losing that data. – Alex Mar 11 '13 at 22:37
Thank you very much for your input! I'm reading over the article and will more than likely put what you've recommended into practice. – rollhax Mar 13 '13 at 18:49

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