I'm in the process of building a new computer and for the first time I will be using multiple hard drives (1 64GB SSD for the system & 1 7,200rpm 500GB HD for data) so I'm unsure as to how to partition the drives for best performance.

My main OS is Ubuntu but I would like a dual boot with Windows 7. From what I've read up the following is the way to do it:

On the SSD:

  • 32GB for linux root partition
  • 32GB for Windows 7

On the 500GB HD:

  • 8GB partition for linux-swap (the PC has 4GB DDR3 RAM)
  • The remaining space split between two data partitions (one for /home & one for Windows)

Is this the optimal setup? And perhaps most importantly am I forgetting any partitions?

I did read it's a good idea to move /tmp & /var/log to the HD because of the number of writes. Is this true?

Thanks in advance.

  • yes, you have done the research...and your sources are correct. – RobotHumans Nov 12 '10 at 18:17
  • 32GB ist too small for Windows 7. You will not be happy with it. – user115856 Jan 29 '12 at 19:39

Unless you really need hibernate, don't use swap.

You may leave the 2GB unpartitioned in case you change mind later.

I have little RAM, and anyway I never used all of it, but on the few times the swap was used, it was a nightmare.

You're not running a server. 4GB is way enough. Normally you may see nothing being swaped during a whole year. But if you leave your computer idle for many hours with some of your favorite heavy applications open, and it swaps stuff to the disk, then you will see your powerful machine turned into a unbearable slug, until things get swapped back to the RAM.

Just don't use it.

  • Thanks I won't bother with swap then as I never hibernate. – Ben Nov 12 '10 at 19:44
  • May I just add that 32GB for Win7 probably won't be enough. I have a Intel x25-M 80GB with only Win7 64b Pro, antivirus and StarcraftII installed, tuned for small footprint in the SSD and it is taking almost 30gb already. StarcraftII is like 7GB in size, but if you are going to install, i.e. Office 2010 + VS2010, you will get pretty much the same size. – wtaniguchi Nov 12 '10 at 21:01

8GB of swap is overkill. The rule of "double the RAM" made sense when machines only had 128MB of RAM, but these days you can get by with a lot less, say 2GB in your case.

As for those other directories, yes, move them to the platter drive.

  • If you want to suspend in linux you will want double your ram as swap so you can resume from suspension/hibernate. – Chris Nov 12 '10 at 18:34
  • Suspend doesn't need the swap, although hibernate does. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Nov 12 '10 at 18:35

Disagree with the other posts. Swap can't hurt and that tiny fraction of your hard disk won't be missed. Contrary to user39559's comment, swapping can not slow down a Linux box, because the swapped-out programs are not removed from RAM--the RAM is marked as "available" if needed, but if the execution switches back to it, it runs directly from RAM.

As for partitioning, I would make the entire non-swap part of the hard disk NTFS. Linux works great with NTFS for the past couple of years, and it makes all your data shared between the two operating systems. /home can map to a directory on the NTFS volume.

  • That does sound interesting having it accessible from both systems. Would there be any disadvantages to having /home in NTFS format? – Ben Nov 12 '10 at 20:33
  • @Ben, It mostly depends on how often you will boot each OS. Nowadays you can read/write even ext4 from Windows, but it is not well set to work with encryption. The only disadvantage that I see in using NTFS for both is the lack of posix-style ownership and ugo/rwx permissions. Otherwise NTFS is fine. – user39559 Nov 20 '10 at 3:05
  • I believe that the principle is like what you describe. But my empirical experience is the opposite. More than once, it handicapped my computer and it hardly got back after I finally managed to open a terminal and fired a command to disable swap... as things got progressively un-swapped I started getting my PC back. Maybe my applications' vital data were slowly replaced by disk cache, which is considered by the kernel as the RAM being in fact used. – user39559 Nov 20 '10 at 3:19

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