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I plan on having a quad boot configuration, with 3 linux distros and a single Windows 7.
How would you divide the partitions?
I already plan on having separate partitions as the following:

  • /boot, 100MB
  • /, how many GB?
  • /home, how many GB?
  • data, about 200GB

The data partition contains all of my data: script/code files, OpenOffice documents, etc.
But I don't understand how to divide all the rest and how much space should I allocate for them?
Also the 3 different linux distros have their respective /home directory, how much space should I allocate for it if I don't plan on storing there anything?

Each distro's home directory will have a symbolic link to the data partition.
This way my data will be shared among the different distributions.

Edit #1 (26 Nov, 19:24 UTC):
Disk size is 500GB.
My data partition must be 200GB and Windows partition must be 200GB.

share|improve this question
You forgot to mention your disk size! – tumchaaditya Nov 26 '13 at 19:16
@tumchaaditya: I don't think it's critical but 500GB :) – Dor Nov 26 '13 at 19:19
I dont think you need a separate parition for boot – tumchaaditya Nov 26 '13 at 19:21
Your disk size is very critical. how much space do you want to give this Linux install? – terdon Nov 26 '13 at 19:23
All I know is that I need 200GB for my data partition and 200GB for Windows partition. – Dor Nov 26 '13 at 19:24
up vote 1 down vote accepted
  1. You can use a common swap partition.
  2. The best if, if this swap partition is around the middle of your hard disk because of speed.
  3. Imho you can use a common home partition too, if the full separation of your distress isn't needed, but you like the perfect integration.
  4. To this home partition you could use even ntfs, too, although it is highly extreme and uncommon, I think it could be a very good idea for a test system.
  5. And yes, a boot partition at the begin of the disk is highly optimal, too. I gave this the fat partition type for the best cooperation with the windows.
  6. I installed the win to the second partition after the boot, because it feels himself there at best.
  7. /home will work best in the near of the geometrical middle of the disk, just as the swap.

Further decomposition of the partitions of your linuxes I don't suggest. It is clearly a home test system.

So your partition map will be the following:

  1. /boot (fat)
  2. /c (ntfs with the windows)
  3. linux1 (ext4)
  4. swap for the actual running linux
  5. /home (ntfs)
  6. linux2 (ext4)
  7. linux3 (ext4)

It is 7 partitions, so the simple old partition table won't work with this. But this isn't a problem, because you could use logical partitioning, which I can't suggest. It is so… unstable.

A better solution were the GPT partition table format. It can have 128 partition.

share|improve this answer
Why logical partitioning is unstable? I have it in my current system. Also many recommend it for a dual boot systems. – Dor Nov 26 '13 at 19:38
Because it uses a linked list: it contains always on the begin of a partition, where the next partition begins. Second problem is, that - because the partition headers cut a little bit from every partition - your have problems if you want exactly the same sized partitions for tricky dd-based moving/cloning. I admit these are not very hard arguments, I suggested the GPT format partially because I feel so the system "beautiful". – peterh Nov 26 '13 at 19:50
Could you please add the sizes for each partition? In order to better understand the ratios. – Dor Nov 30 '13 at 22:30
Yes. Boot: small, some hundred mega were enough. Swap: as many ram you have. If you won't install too much, give the win 40g and the linuxes 20gig. If you want big tricky installs, double these numbers. What place remains, give the home. – peterh Dec 1 '13 at 10:09

The problem is that there is no way to answer without knowing exactly what you will be using the Linuxes for. You only have 100G to play with, on my current Debian install, the / partition has 17G of data and my /boot 122M. That's me, the needed sizes will depend on

  1. For / : How many programs you want to install. Most of the data in / comes from installed software, not the OS itself. For example, my /usr directory is 11G the greatest part of which comes from my LaTeX documentation.

  2. For /boot : How many kernel versions will you want to install?

Personally, I would install one Linux distro and set up the others in Virtual Machines. If you really want to use all three as natively installed OSs, I would do the following:

  • Share the same /home partition. This will almost certainly not cause any problems and will reduce the necessary partitions.

  • Create a /swap partition, you did not mention it but it is very important.

So, I would partition the disk like this:

  • / : ~15G
  • /boot : ~150M
  • /home : ~35G shared across the 4 distros
  • /swap : ~ 2 x RAM, 4GB if you have 2GB RAM shared across the 4 distros

This adds up to (4 x 15) + 35 + 4 + (4 x 0.15) = 99.6G. Just add the extra space to one of your / partitions. The /swap only needs to be 2 x your RAM if you want to be able to hibernate (not just suspend) your Linux. I recommend you don't actually bother and keep the swap to approx. the size of your RAM or ~2GB if you have loads of RAM.

share|improve this answer
Sharing the same /home partition would make the different distros to create their own files/folders in the home directories so that one distro will interfere with the other... or not..? – Dor Nov 26 '13 at 19:50
@Dor no, the files generated are settings files, if they already exist, they won't be overwritten. I've kept the same /home partition for years with different distros. That does mean that changing settings in one distro will cause them to change in another though. – terdon Nov 26 '13 at 19:51
Yes, a little bit of interference can't be closed out, but hard problems have only a little chance. If all of your distros will eb current, they will use the same softwares. You don't need to have even the same UID-s for the same users, because the linuxes give 777 (everybody full control) to all ntfs files by default. And a further wonderful trick: you can even set up your windows users (!!) to the ntfs home-partition. Win will make a little bit of trash in the homes, but I think the wonderful integration between the OS-s can have this price. – peterh Nov 26 '13 at 20:09
+1 for sharing your case :) – Dor Nov 30 '13 at 22:26

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