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Learning Red Hat Linux by Bill McCarty

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Preparing Your Hard Disk

To prepare your hard disk for installing Linux, you must allocate the space in which Linux will reside. You’ll learn how to do so in this section. First, you’ll learn how hard disks are organized, then you’ll learn how to view the structure of a hard disk. Finally, you’ll learn how to alter the structure of a hard disk.

How Hard Disks are Organized

Let’s start by reviewing facts you’ve probably learned by working with Microsoft Windows. Most operating systems, including Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows 98, manage hard disk drives by dividing their storage space into units known as partitions. So that you can access a partition, Windows 95 and Windows 98 associate a drive letter (such as C: or D:) with it. Before you can store data on a partition, you must format it. Formatting a partition organizes the associated space into what is called a filesystem, which provides space for storing the names and attributes of files as well as the data they contain. Microsoft Windows supports several types of filesystems, such as FAT and FAT32, a newer filesystem type that provides more efficient storage, launches programs faster, and supports very large hard disk drives.

Partitions comprise the logical structure of a disk drive, the way humans and most computer programs understand the structure. However, disk drives have an underlying physical structure that more closely resembles the actual structure of the hardware. Figure 2.3 shows the logical and physical ...

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