Recommended Linux Partitioning Scheme

Partitioning Basics:

When we need to install linux on our systems, we need to partition our hard disk as we do for windows. In the case of windows, partitions are called as c: ,d:, e:, etc. But on linux they are represented in the form of following (there are many others, but these are the most essential):

  1. swap:
    This is meant for use by the system when it runs out of memory (RAM); it’s much like virtual memory in windows where the system utilizes that space as extra memory.
  2. /:
    This is called the root partition; the most important partition, where all the system files are stored.
  3. /home:
    This partition is meant for use by the users of the system to store their files and preferences. Although it can be merged with the / partition, but it is advised to have this as different partition so that you can store your files and preferences and reinstall the system (in /).

You don’t see the partitions as different drives (as in windows) under linux, they are visible as directories inside the root partition (/).

The Scheme:

After a lot of searching and reading on the topic. I have decided on the following scheme to be very suitable for most (home desktop) purposes:

  • swap – 1.5 to 2 times [size of RAM] (e.g. I have 1.5 GB RAM so my swap is 3GB)
  • / – 5 to 10 GB (5 GB is sufficient in most cases, but if you have large harddisk, like me, allocate at least 10 for /)
  • /home – Greater than 10 GB or rest of the space (because this is where you will save all your work and downloads, etc; 40 GB in my case). And yes, you can leave other space on your hard disk as a storehouse for games, videos, music or files in the form of NTFS partitions, if you happen to use windows also (else make more room for /home).

Remember: things are not that complex, we make them complex. So, stick to a simple partition scheme like this and keep things simple.

Gparted showing my hard disk partition structure

Gparted showing my hard disk partition structure

Bonus Tip: Use Gparted instead of the partition editor that comes within the installer of most linux installers to have a complete control over your hard disk’s partitions.

This article first appeared at