Necessary/recommended partitions when dual-booting with Windows 7 (MBR/Legacy BIOS)

Hi everyone!

I currently have Windows 7 (with BIOS) installed on an MBR HDD. It's a 1TB drive and during my Windows installation I left around 80GB of unpartitioned space to install a Linux distro at a later date for experimentation. I thought about creating an extended partition from those 80GB and several logical partitions inside:

  • /boot (~1GB)
  • root (60GB)
  • swap partition (20GB, no mount point and the "swap" flag set)

My Windows installation currently takes up two partitions: a 100MB one at the beginning of the disk (probably the boot partition, it has the "boot" flag set) and the remaining 850GB for my data. While reading up on forum posts and other documentation, I noticed that maybe I didn't need a separate /boot partition when it came to dual-booting Windows 7 on BIOS (correct me if I'm mistaken).

Seeing as it's an MBR drive, I've got two primary partitions left. Should I make:

  • two primary partitions for root and swap
  • one primary root and another extended, with logical partitions for swap, /home and whatever else necessary
  • any other combo recommended by the community

or go the nuclear route and tell the installer to replace the empty partition with Manjaro (which would probably make a single root partition)?

It's personal preference but you'll see the same answers each and every time this question is asked (which is very regularly).

This.

Or

with a swapfile.

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Thanks! The whole MBR deal left me banging my head against a wall, gotta have a GPT disk next time. Thanks again!

Linux is perfectly fine with being on logical partitions. It is Windows that needs to be on a primary partition.

You might want a separate boot partition if you want to encrypt your partitions (less problems if /boot is not encrypted) or play with advanced filesystems (GRUB can lag behind support for very new fs'es, there was a time when it did not support ext4).

Having separate /home partition is nice if you ever want to completely wipe an old install but keep your personal data and custom settings. Also for data separation and security maybe. [Real story: I hit a very rare bug one time that wiped my root partition. If my /home was not on a separate partition, I would have lost everything.]

I do not like to use swap so I have never used a swap partition. But if you need it, creating a swap file is more flexible than creating a swap partition (although on a HDD, having separate swap partition at front of disk might be better for performance).

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