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Misunderstanding partitions and divisions

© June 2004 Tony Lawrence

While Linux systems (except for LVM) usually break hard drives up into multiple FDISK partitions, each of which will be a file system, SCO does it quite differently. Most SCO systems have one fdisk partition, and that is divided into up to 7 filesystems or raw divisions.

This difference can be confusing coming from either side, which might be part of the reason behind the difficulties this poster experienced. See Filesystems also.

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-> Misunderstanding partitions and divisions


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"Most SCO systems have one fdisk partition, and that is divided into up to 7 filesystems or raw partitions."

Not to be pedantic or anything, but did you mean "divisions" instead of "raw partitions?" Also, divisions are not necessarily filesystems -- for example, swap space is defined in a division (usually division 1).

My friends often accuse me of having a lot of "tedious minutae" in my head, especially when it comes to computers. Since that must be the case -- why else would I get ribbed about it on a regular basis? -- I'll offer up some PC hardware tedious minutae.

The PC hardware itself (i.e., the BIOS boot code) knows nothing about disk partitions. The only thing the BIOS code knows is how to load the master boot record (MBR) from physical sector zero of the boot drive and execute the machine code found therein. It is that code that knows about partitions. From this, one can (correctly) conclude that partitioning the boot disk is not a hardware requirement, a fact that is evident when one considers booting from a floppy disk, which has no partitioning.

Academically speaking, SCO's method of using a single partition containing multiple divisions -- some of which will be structured into filesystems -- is better than the Linux method of using disk partitions to delineate filesystems. The theory behind partitioning the disk is to support the use of more than one bootable operating system, not multiple filesystems. The way Linux does it is at odds with that theory. I personally think that Linux's use of partitions as filesystems is dumb and unnecessarily cumbersome. But, as we all know, opinions are like anuses: we all have one.


Yessir, I did mean "divisions" :-) and have corrected it.

I agree that the standard Linux filesystem on partition scheme is a bit dumb, but it is ameliorated somewhat by the ability to use extended partitions. And, as I noted, LVM does it "right" :-)


It's just Linux showing off it's PC heratige. The BSD's (openBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD)follow the same format were you have a "c" partition that has everything and that's divided up between the different divisions like in SCO, I beleive.


---January 14, 2005

LVM is much smarter..


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