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An Introduction to Disk Partitions
This section discusses basic disk concepts, disk repartitioning strategies, the partition naming scheme used by Linux systems, and related topics.
Hard Disk Basic Concepts
Hard disks perform a very simple function - they store data and reliably retrieve it on command.
When discussing issues such as disk partitioning, it is important to have a understanding of the underlying hardware; however, since the theory is very complicated and expansive, only the basic concepts will be explained here. This appendix uses a set of simplified diagrams of a disk drive to help explain what is the process and theory behind partitions.
An Unused Disk Drive
Image of an unused disk drive.
partitions/unused-drive.png
File Systems
Disk Drive with a File System
Image of a formatted disk drive.
partitions/formatted-drive.png
A small percentage of the driver's available space is used to store file system-related data and can be considered as overhead.
A file system splits the remaining space into small, consistently-sized segments. For Linux, these segments are known as _blocks_ footnote:[Blocks really *are* consistently sized, unlike our illustrations. Keep in mind, also, that an average disk drive contains thousands of blocks. The picture is simplified for the purposes of this discussion.].
Disk Drive with a Different File System
Image of a disk drive with a different file system.
partitions/other-formatted-drive.png
Writing a file system to disk is only the first step. The goal of this process is to actually *store* and *retrieve* data. The figure below shows a drive disk after some data have been written to it:
Disk Drive with Data Written to It
Image of a disk drive with data written to it.