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Hello! I am trying to wrap my head around volumes and partitions and after reading a lot of articles online, I became really confused. I one question that sort of ...
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  1. #1
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    Volumes and Partitions


    Hello! I am trying to wrap my head around volumes and partitions and after reading a lot of articles online, I became really confused. I one question that sort of extends into other more deeper questions.

    What is the difference between a volume and a partition?

    The only difference I found was that a volume is in some sense "higher up the hierarchy," in file management. Volumes contain partitions. Also, volumes can only have one type of filesystem (NTFS, etc). Primary partitions can only be one type of filesystem (much like volumes, except primary partitions cannot be further divided). I read that one should always create partitions, not volumes. In terms of "types" of partitions, one should only create extended partitions and then logical partitions inside of that.

    Now, I have many problems with this.

    Does this imply all partitions inside a volume can only be of one filesystem? Isn't that a negative?

    One cannot create partitions inside hard-drives (using Windows regular disk manager anyway -- is it the same for linux?) (Additionally, the line between volume and partition is non-existent... read on).

    Interestingly: the windows storage manager makes no distinction between volumes and partitions. See this link: [ACCOUNT TOO NEW, BUT GOOGLE "HOW TO PARTITION HARDDRIVE WINDOWS" -- YOU WILL SEE THAT YOU ACTUALLY "CREATE A VOLUME" VIA "DISK MANAGEMENT" INTERFACE]
    Notice that you click "new simple volume" to create a partition.

    Also see this link: [GOOGLE "VOLUME - COMPUTING"]
    In the FIRST example, once again, there is no distinction between volumes and partitions.

    So what exactly is a C drive or D drive. Is it a partition or a volume? If they are volumes, can they truly be split into partitions? And how would they be further referenced? Using letters again?

    I appreciate all responses and thank you!

  2. #2
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Your post shows the differences between Windows and Linux terminology. Since this is a Linux forum, let's focus on that.

    Volumes can be a single physical disc, an array, or a logical volume (LVM) that consists of multiple discs and/or partitions on multiple discs.
    Volumes are partitioned, and each partition holds a single file system, or swap space.
    In Windows terms, a C or D drive would be mounted on a partition. AFAIK, Windows doesn't have logical volumes. That is a Unix/Linux thing.
    Arrays consist of a number of physical discs, but the operating system sees it as a single device (disc), which you need to partition. You can also create a logical volume on an array.

    Confusing, I know. Usually you don't need to worry about it since when you install Linux on your system, it will set things up generally in a reasonable way, though you can manually configure it as well.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubberman View Post
    Your post shows the differences between Windows and Linux terminology. Since this is a Linux forum, let's focus on that.
    Arrays consist of a number of physical discs, but the operating system sees it as a single device (disc), which you need to partition.
    What is the "purpose" of a volume and what is the "purpose" of a partition?

    I read (and your post also suggests) that "volumes" are miniature "hard-drives" in a real, physical hard-drive. Just so one can logically order files.
    I get that. Makes logical sense.
    Now why would you partition it and how would you identify the partitions? Would you have to select which partition you are working on as well? (Like how you select the "hard-drive" or volume you are working on).

    For example, in Windows, volumes (or partitions -- whatever) are labelled with letters.
    But in windows, there is apparently no difference between volumes and partitions. It is one thing, one id scheme. Pick only volume/partition to work on. Quick and easy.

    Sorry, I know these questions can probably be answered if I go through installing linux but until I can afford a second computer, I don't want to risk getting lost in such a complicated OS.

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    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Simplify, simplify, simplify!

    In truth, Linux is a LOT simpler than Windows, once you get the hang of it!

    Back to basics. In Windows, a partition (volume) is associated with a drive letter (C, D, etc). You can have multiple partitions on a drive, each of which contains a file system that will be referred to by a unique letter (A...Z). In effect, you are limited to 26 unique file systems at any time. Linux is not so constrained. You can have any number of mounted file systems, from a floppy, CD, DVD, simple disc partitions, partitions on arrays or logical volumes, etc. They are mounted on what we call a "mount point", which simply is a directory in the root file system. For example, often /home is a mount point for a device separate from the boot device. You can see what these mountings are in the /etc/fstab file. That is read by the OS when it boots in order to determine where to find the file systems it needs to mount.

    Once the system is running, you can use either the "mount" or "df" commands to see what is mounted where. Here is an example from my home workstation:

    mount
    /dev/sda2 on / type ext4 (rw)
    proc on /proc type proc (rw)
    sysfs on /sys type sysfs (rw)
    devpts on /dev/pts type devpts (rw,gid=5,mode=620)
    tmpfs on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw)
    /dev/md127 on /mnt/ts02 type ext4 (rw)
    /dev/sdf1 on /mnt/esata1 type ext4 (rw)
    /dev/sdg1 on /mnt/esata2 type ext4 (rw)
    /dev/sdh1 on /mnt/esata3 type ext4 (rw)
    /dev/sdi1 on /mnt/esata4 type ext4 (rw)
    none on /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc type binfmt_misc (rw)
    sunrpc on /var/lib/nfs/rpc_pipefs type rpc_pipefs (rw)

    df
    Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on
    /dev/sda2 291151032 112915880 175277644 40% /
    tmpfs 3951376 5168 3946208 1% /dev/shm
    /dev/md127 1442156604 1196425236 172474000 88% /mnt/ts02
    /dev/sdf1 1922858352 1635123984 190058768 90% /mnt/esata1
    /dev/sdg1 1922858352 1730283464 94899288 95% /mnt/esata2
    /dev/sdh1 1922858352 1691451252 133731500 93% /mnt/esata3
    /dev/sdi1 1922857360 1743415936 81765876 96% /mnt/esata4

    I'm sure this will cause you to have more questions... NP. Happy to help!

    Note that /mnt/ts02 is the mount point for a RAID-5 array, /dev/md127.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

  6. #5
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    But in windows, there is apparently no difference between volumes and partitions.
    Windows has historically assumed it was the only operating system and OEM and default installs took the whole hard drive for one partition. This is no longer the case, primarily with OEM installs which now often have separate boot, system and recovery partitions. I see a lot of users posting questions when they try to install another system and can't because all their primary partitions are already used by windows.


    I think the naming conventions used in Unix/Linux are a lot more sensible than what windows uses. A specific name for each drive as well as each partition so they can be easily distringuished. On the other hand, if you are not familiar with it, the familiar always seems earlier. The concept of using letters of the English alphabet is nothing that originated with windows as it was used by CP/M written prior to DOS by Digital Research (DOS was a modified version of CP/M) and I believe prior to that by IBM.

    If you are curious about Linux but don't want to install it because you think you might mess things up on your windows system you can always download an iso of some Linux distribution, burn it as an image to disk and boot the computer with it. That will have no effect on your installed windows. Alternatively, you could install VirtualBox on windows and run Linux inside it.
    Rubberman likes this.

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