Having done the layout you should now have a detailled description on what goes where. Most likely this will be on paper but hopefully someone will make a more automated system that can deal with everything from the design, through partitioning to formatting and installation. This is the route one will have to take to realise the design.
Modern distributions come with installation tools that will guide you
through partitioning and formatting and also set up
for you automatically. For later modifications, however, you will need
to understand the underlying mechanisms.
When you start DOS or the like you will find all partitions labeled
C: and onwards, with no differentiation on IDE, SCSI, network or
whatever type of media you have. In the world of Linux this is rather
different. During booting you will see partitions described like this:
Dec 6 23:45:18 demos kernel: Partition check: Dec 6 23:45:18 demos kernel: sda: sda1 Dec 6 23:45:18 demos kernel: hda: hda1 hda2
SCSI drives are labelled
sdc etc, and
(E)IDE drives are labelled
There are also standard names for all devices, full information can be
Partitions are labelled numerically for each drive
and so on. On SCSI drives there can be 15 partitions per
drive, on EIDE drives there can be 63 partitions per drive. Both
limits exceed what is currently useful for most disks.
These are then mounted according to the file
they appear as a part of the file system.
First you have to partition each drive into a number of separate partitions.
Under Linux there are two main methods,
fdisk and the more screen
cfdisk. These are complex programs, read the manual very
carefully. Under DOS there are other choices, mainly the version of
that is bundled with for instance DOS, or
fips. The latter has the unique
advantage here that it can repartition a drive without necessarily damaging
existing data, unlike all the other partitioning programs.
In order to get the most out of
fips you should first defragment your
drive. This way you can allocate more space to other partitions.
Nevertheless, it is important you do a full backup of all your valued data before partitioning.
Partitions come in 3 flavours,
You have to use
primary partitions for booting, but there is a maximum
of 4 primary partitions. If you want more you have to define an
partition within which you define your
Each partition has an identifier number which tells the operating system
what it is, for Linux the types
ext2fs are the ones you
will need to know.
There is a readme file that comes with
fdisk that gives more in-depth
information on partitioning.
Someone has just made a Partitioning HOWTO which contains excellent, in depth information on the nitty-gritty of partitioning. Rather than repeating it here and bloating this document further, I will instead refer you to it instead.
Being in a state of flux you should make sure to read the latest documentation on this kernel feature. It is not yet stable, beware.
Briefly explained it works by adding partitions together into new
md1 etc. using
mdadd before you activate
mdrun. This process can be automated using the file
Then you then treat these like any other partition on a drive. Proceed with formatting etc. as described below using these new devices.
There is now also a HOWTO in development for RAID using
Next comes partition formatting, putting down the data structures that will
describe the files and where they are located. If this is the first time it
is recommended you use formatting with verify. Strictly speaking it should
not be necessary but this exercises the I/O hard enough that it can uncover
potential problems, such as incorrect termination, before you store your
precious data. Look up the command
mkfs for more details.
Linux can support a great number of file systems, rather than repeating
the details you can read the manpage for
fs which describes them in
some details. Note that your kernel has to have the drivers compiled in
or made as modules in order to be able to use these features. When the time
comes for kernel compiling you should read carefully through the file system
feature list. If you use
make menuconfig you can get online help for
each file system type.
Note that some rescue disk systems require
to be compiled into the kernel.
Also swap partitions have to be prepared, and for this you use
Data on a partition is not available to the file system until it is mounted
on a mount point. This can be done manually using
mount or automatically
during booting by adding appropriate lines to
/etc/fstab. Read the
mount and pay close attention to the tabulation.