25.1.3. Partitions within Partitions — An Overview of Extended Partitions

25.1.3. Partitions within Partitions — An Overview of Extended Partitions

Of course, over time it became obvious that four partitions would not be enough. As disk drives continued to grow, it became more and more likely that a person could configure four reasonably-sized partitions and still have disk space left over. There needed to be some way of creating more partitions.

Enter the extended partition. As you may have noticed in Table 25.1, “Partition Types”, there is an "Extended" partition type. It is this partition type that is at the heart of extended partitions.

When a partition is created and its type is set to "Extended," an extended partition table is created. In essence, the extended partition is like a disk drive in its own right — it has a partition table that points to one or more partitions (now called logical partitions, as opposed to the four primary partitions) contained entirely within the extended partition itself. Figure 25.7, “Disk Drive With Extended Partition”, shows a disk drive with one primary partition and one extended partition containing two logical partitions (along with some unpartitioned free space).

Disk Drive With Extended Partition

Image of a disk drive with an extended partition.

Figure 25.7. Disk Drive With Extended Partition

As this figure implies, there is a difference between primary and logical partitions — there can only be four primary partitions, but there is no fixed limit to the number of logical partitions that can exist. However, due to the way in which partitions are accessed in Linux, you should avoid defining more than 12 logical partitions on a single disk drive.

Now that we have discussed partitions in general, let us review how to use this knowledge to install Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

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