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I have some contiguous free space available next to where my root partition resides on the hard drive. I was thinking of resizing the root partition with gparted to take up this space, but it's kind of risky. I was wondering if there is another way to include this partition into my Linux partition without resizing? Like somehow link it in so that / will have more free space?

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No. To change the size of a partition, i.e. resize it, you must perform the operation of RESIZING the partition. In any case, modern-day partitioning is fairly safe, just DON'T CANCEL IT.

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