BCE-C712 Linux System Administration

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Managing Unix File Systems

Partitions and Swap Space

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In this lesson, we will explore the concepts of partitions and swap space in Unix-like operating systems. Understanding how to manage partitions and allocate swap space is crucial for optimizing system performance and efficiently utilizing available storage resources.


A partition is a distinct section of a storage device (such as a hard disk or SSD) that operates as if it were a separate disk. Partitions enable users to organize and manage their data more efficiently.

  1. Creating and Managing Partitions:
    • Using tools like fdisk or parted to create, delete, and resize partitions.
    • Understanding partition types (e.g., primary, extended, logical).
  2. File System and Mount Points:
    • Formatting partitions with file systems like ext4, NTFS, or others.
    • Mounting partitions to specific directories in the file system hierarchy.
  3. Mounting Partitions at Boot:
    • Adding entries to /etc/fstab for automatic mounting at system startup.
  4. Managing Disk Space:
    • Monitoring disk usage and managing partitions to ensure efficient use of available space.
    • Expanding or shrinking partitions as needed.

Swap Space:

Swap space is a dedicated area of a storage device that the operating system uses as virtual memory when physical RAM is full.

  1. Creating and Managing Swap Space:
    • Using tools like mkswap to create swap partitions or files.
    • Activating and deactivating swap space using swapon and swapoff commands.
  2. Swappiness:
    • Understanding and adjusting the swappiness value to control the tendency of the system to use swap space.
  3. Monitoring Swap Usage:
    • Using tools like free and swapon -s to monitor swap usage and availability.
  4. Optimizing Swap Configuration:
    • Considering factors like swap size, usage patterns, and system workload to optimize swap space configuration.

SSD Considerations (Optional):

For systems using Solid State Drives (SSDs), there are specific considerations for managing partitions and swap space to maximize SSD lifespan and performance.

  1. Avoiding Overuse of Swap on SSDs:
    • Minimizing unnecessary swap usage to prevent excessive wear on SSD cells.
  2. Trim and Wear Leveling:
    • Understanding how SSDs manage data to improve performance and lifespan.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this lesson, students will:

  • Understand the purpose and management of partitions in Unix-like systems.
  • Be proficient in creating, formatting, and mounting partitions.
  • Learn how to allocate and manage swap space for efficient memory utilization.
  • Gain familiarity with best practices for optimizing disk usage and managing SSDs (if applicable).