UbuntuThe installation program on Ubuntu desktop is pretty basic. It lacks the other features, like support for LVM, RAID, and full disk encryption, that the Ubuntu text installer edition has. By default, it creates just one partition onto which it installs everything. If you want to install Ubuntu on a disk with separate partitions for the major file systems, you will have to partition the disk manually.

This tutorial presents a step by step guide on how to partition a hard disk manually for installing Ubuntu 10.10. Note: This tutorial covers installation on a computer with a single disk and no other operating system already installed.

The image below is the first during the installation process where disk partitioning is about to begin. Like virtually all graphical installation programs, the Ubuntu installer is capable of detecting the presence of another OS on the disk. If there is, it is also capable of installing itself alongside the other OS – if you opt to. For this tutorial, the option to select is “Specify partitions manually (Advanced)”. That option offers the freedom to partition the disk anyway you want. Click on the Forward button to continue.

Select manual option

The hard drive on the computer used for this tutorial is about 640 GB in size, but I am going to use just a fraction for this installation. The rest will be used to installation another OS in a dual-boot configuration. I could have installed the other OS first and then Ubuntu last, but it does not matter. It works either way. Note: If the other OS is Windows (any version), always install it first, then install Ubuntu last.

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To begin creating partitions, select the free space and click on the Add… button.

Select free space to start creating partitions

In a default installation of Ubuntu, the installer creates just one primary and one logical partition. The primary partition is for /, the root file system, while the logical partition is used for swap. In this tutorial, we are going to create three primary partitions (one less than the maximum of four allowed by the traditional disk partitioning system), and one logical partition.

The first primary partition will be for /boot, which is the file system where boot-related files are kept. The space requirement of this partition is minimal.About 500 MB is recommended. For file system type (Use as), the default is Ext4 journaling file system. The Mount Point should, of course, be /boot. OK.

Create the /boot partition

With the first partition out of the way, repeat the process to create the next partition, which will be used for /. Note that by default, the installer will try to create any partition after the first one created above as a logical partition. So be sure to select Primary. Sticking with the default, that is, Logical will not break anything, but it just does not make much sense. The size assigned is 20 GB, and the mount point is, of course, /.

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Keep in mind that a default installation of Ubuntu 10.10 takes up less than 3 GB of disk space, so 20 GB is more than enough for /. If you intend to create separate partitions for the other major file systems, like /usr, /tmp and /var, you may reduce the size allocated to this partition. OK.

Create the / partition

The next partition, which will be the last primary partition, will be for swap space. If I have the disk space to spare, I normally allocate about 4 GB to 5 GB to the swap partition. For Use as, select swap area. OK.

Create the swap partition


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10 Responses

  1. unfortunately, even after stable release, installing ubuntu 12.10 alongside another OS does not allow you the option to have an encrypted LVM. Nor can you achieve the same result by the manual partition tool.

      1. NO. You can only have LVM if you choose to use the full disk. You cannot have LVM if you have dualboot or manual partitioning. Ubuntu developers chose to favor the desktop CD even with half the features missing. I curse them everyday for this.

        1. Partially true. You can use LVM with automated dual-boot, not manual dual-boot. It just requires a bit more effort on your part. I’ll post a tutorial on dual-booting with Windows 7 and/or 8 with LVM and FDE later this week.

          1. hi, finid!

            did you actually post your dual-boot full disk encryption tutorial somewhere? it would really help me…

  2. Good article, exactly what I was looking to know and glad that the Ubuntu devs have made it so easy.

    @Abhishek: I don’t think he needs to explain the benefits of disk encryption, this is a blog article about how to use it which implies you might already know something about it, and if not there’s a wealth of information elsewhere that’s very easy to find.

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