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               Partitions-Mass-Storage-Definitions-Naming-HOWTO

  Jean-Daniel Dodin

   <jdd@dodin.org>

   Revision History
   Revision V0.1            2009-05-09            Revised by: jdd

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

   Table of Contents

   1.

   2. Copyright and Licence

   3. Mass Storage Involved Here

   4. Definitions

                4.1. Warning

                4.2. Bytes

                4.3. Sectors

                4.4. Heads

                4.5. Tracks

                4.6. Cylinders

                4.7. Disks

                4.8. Partitions

                4.9. Partition Table

                4.10. File Systems

                4.11. Files and Nodes

   5. Drive Naming in Linux

                5.1. Naming Convention

   6. Partition Naming in Linux

                6.1. Numbers

                6.2. Meaning of the Numbers

   7. Device Major and Minor Numbers

   8. Partition Types

                8.1. Linux Partition Types

                8.2. Foreign Partition Types

                8.3. Swap Partitions

                8.4. Complete List

   9. How Many Partitions

                                      1.

       Partitions-Mass-Storage-Definitions-Naming-HOWTO, copyright (c) 2009
   Jean-Daniel Dodin

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           2. Copyright and Licence

   The copyright of this document is to the author, Jean-Daniel Dodin,
   according to the following licence.

               Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this
         document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License,
         Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software
         Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and
         no Back-Cover Texts.  A copy of the license is included in the
         section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".


   [http://wiki.tldp.org/LdpWikiDefaultLicence#GNUFreeDocumentationLicense]
     GNU Free Documentation License

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        3. Mass Storage Involved Here

   Mass storage involved in the present HOWTO are rewritable random access
   ones. Most of them are magnetic rotating disks (floppies, Hard Drive) or
   flash memory (USB key or any kind of memory card).

   For example, cdroms and dvds are notconcerned by this HOWTO ( see
   Wikipedia). Tapes are not either.

   Mass storage are used by the kernel, so the basic doc can be found on
   [http://kernel.org/pub/linux/docs/device-list/devices-2.6+.txt]   the
   kernel Web site

   Reference site should be the International Disk drive Equipment and
   Materials Association. Shouldbecause this Web site is not very friendly.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                4. Definitions

4.1. Warning

   Many definitions about drives are only virtual. That is they are used,
   but the hardware is often quite different from the expected description.
   Usually this have no odd result, any mass storage have to be seen as a
   black box.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.2. Bytes

   Computers counts with binaries, 1 & 0, 1111100001110... To be able to
   read this better, humans uses nibbles (4 bits) often shown as
   Hexadecimal numbers from 0 to f (0123456789abcdef). Nibbles are usually
   grouped by two and this gives a byte. The most used memory unit is byte
   and it's multiples, KiB (Kilo Bytes), MiB (Mega Bytes), GiB (Gigabytes).
   The "i" denotes the binary use (0ne Ki is 1024, not 1000), the uppercase
   "B" denotes Bytes, not bits.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.3. Sectors

   Sometime, the word blockis used in place of sectors.

   Mass storage devices (at least the ones we are dealing with here) store
   bytes in "Sectors" of 512 Bytes. This is uneven, because any sector
   count have to be divided by two to have the KiB number, so most
   partitonning software accepts letters k (KiB), m (MiB), g... as options.
   Wise ones do not make any case difference.

   Sector size is the available byte count. The true sector is bigger, as
   it have to include housekeeping data. You don't have to worry about
   that.

   Notice that as of 03-22-2006, the IDEMA annouced a new sector size of
   4kiB (4096 Bytes):
   [http://www.idema.org/_smartsite/modules/local/data_file/show_file.php?cmd=download&data_file_id=1446]
   http://www.idema.org/_smartsite/modules/local/data_file/show_file.php?cmd=download&data_file_id=1446-
   doc file, can be openned with OpenOffice.org.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.4. Heads

   Rotating mass storage devices uses heads. True heads are the physical
   electromechanical device that writes and read the magnetic track. Drives
   being made of rotating plates, the plates have two sides, so disks can
   have two head by plate. Having two plates (frequent) you have four
   heads.

   Heads are writing through very complex system, see detailed info here:
   [http://www.spmtips.com/library/data_storage]
   http://www.spmtips.com/library/data_storage.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.5. Tracks

   Plates are rotating. When a head is still, the plate rotation and the
   width of the head are defining a track.

   Heads are moving from the external part of the plate to the inner part,
   step by steps. Each step defines a new track.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.6. Cylinders

   Heads are moving together, all at the same time. They may rotate - on
   they own center, not the plate center, of course. They also may have a
   linear move. You can see an example of linear moving head in any
   cdreader, looking at the move of the laser head. Most disks are as shown
   by this wikipedia image
   [http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5a/Hard_disk_platters_and_head.jpg/200px-Hard_disk_platters_and_head.jpg]
   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5a/Hard_disk_platters_and_head.jpg/200px-Hard_disk_platters_and_head.jpg.

   When you think of all the tracks defined by each head at the same time,
   you have a cylinder. So on a rotating drive, all the tracks of the same
   cylinder are read or written at the same time. The actual data is spread
   on all the plates. The way the data is actually written is up to the
   drive manufacturer, not the user.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.7. Disks

   Small disks are used directly as a hole bunch of sectors. Basic programs
   can access data directly on sectors. Many do (like dd or any
   partitionning programm).

   But we live in a world of extremely high capacity mass storage.
   Terabytes is normal nowaday (2009), when a complete Linux system can
   live on a floppy (1440 bytes). So there is a need of making several
   parts from a mass storage device, though the partitions.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.8. Partitions

   Partitioning is a means to divide a single drive into many logical
   drives. A partition is a contiguous set of sectors. To lessen the heads
   travel, partitions can be "aligned" on the cylinder size, that is use an
   integer number of cylinder. This is not always done, but should as it
   have many other advantages for recovery.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.9. Partition Table

   As you can have many partitions, you need to have a partition table.
   This partition table is stored in the very beginning of the drive. It's
   very unlikely that you will have to change this table directly writing
   bytes with an hexadecimal editor, so we wont say more on the position of
   the table.

   There are many Operating Systems all around that all share similar
   hardware and as many partition systems. We will look only at what one
   can find in a PC, even if it's not easy to define that nowaday. Say, for
   us, a PC is any computer able to run Linux (I know, it's not always
   true).

   Each of these partition kinds are noted in the table by a special flag
   called "type" ("t" in fdisk). Most known are type 83 for Linux
   partitions and 82 for Linux swap (hex numbers).

   Notice that most Operating Systems can share partition tables. At least,
   if a disk is hardware compatible with several systems, these systems
   should be able to see what the others have done, not to erase a drive by
   accident. I can't say for sure that its true in the real life.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.10. File Systems

   Partitions can be accessed directly as sectors, as any part of the disk,
   but are usually filled with a file system. File system and partitions
   are related only because a file system is in a partition, but that's
   all. You can have a disk without partition but with a file system or
   have partitions without file system (the swap partition beeing the most
   well known). For details on file systems, see Wikipedia.

   In summary, file systems allow storing data in files with human readable
   names and to sort the files in a friendly way, for example as
   directories, subdirectories, text, images...

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.11. Files and Nodes

   Nearly all what you can find on a mass storage partition, beside
   sectors, from an user point of view, is a file. But computers are
   curious geeks and you can treat files like disks if you want. Using the
   "loop" system, default in most Linux kernels, one can partition the
   inside of the file, create file systems on it and mount it. This is
   specially handy for experiments.

   Some of these files are devicesor nodes. Partitions are not files and
   are accessed via special nodes we will see later. These nodes are not
   created by touch but by mknode. Use with caution. Nodes need a type (
   cfor "character" or "b" for block) and major and minor numbers. For what
   we need, major numbers are disk numbers and minor numbers are partition
   numbers. The list is visible in /proc/partitions

           cat /proc/partitions
   major minor  #blocks  name

      8     0  488386584 sda
      8     1   52436128 sda1
      8     2          1 sda2
      8     5    2104483 sda5
      8     6   20972826 sda6
      8     7   52436128 sda7
      8     8  360434308 sda8

           #mknod b 8 9 /dev/sda9

   Creates a /dev/sda9 node of no nuse, given this don't create partition,
   only the node. In a usual Linux distribution, nodes are dynamically
   created at boot time, so nobody should have to do so. However, sometime
   the automatic system fails.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           5. Drive Naming in Linux

   There is a special nomenclature that linux uses to refer to mass storage
   that must be understood.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

5.1. Naming Convention

   Linux used to deal with two kind of drives, depending of the electronic
   interface (controller), IDE and SCSI. Oldtimers remember the day where
   cdwriters where acccessed through "SCSI emulation". In fact IDE and SCSI
   use mostly the same low level commands and for 2007 up, with the new
   "SATA" interface, the naming was unified and, in new ditributions, all
   the drives have the same naming. For this part, CD or DVD
   readers/writers are seen like Hard Drives.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

  5.1.1. Old IDE Names

   By convention, IDE drives where given device names /dev/hdato /dev/hdd.
   Hard Drive A( /dev/hda) is the first drive and Hard Drive C( /dev/hdc)
   is the third.

   A typical PC has two IDE controllers, each of which can have two drives
   connected to it. For example, /dev/hdais the first drive (master) on the
   first IDE controller and /dev/hddis the second (slave) drive on the
   second controller (the fourth IDE drive in the computer).

   So, typically, a computer with IDE controller can accomodate 4 drives:
   /dev/hda (primary master), /dev/hdb (primary slave), /dev/hdc (secondary
   master), /dev/hdd (secondary slave). Some (rare) Mother Boards have more
   than two controllers, some addition cards can also have controllers,
   these are numbered following the alphabet, but one have to figure out
   what real names are given for his particular hardware.

   You can have drives where ever you want, it's not mandatory to fill the
   gaps. You may have interest to read about what drive/cdrom connect to
   what place, but it's out of this document scope.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

  5.1.2. New Hard Drives Names

   Now all the rotating hard drives uses the same names as the old SCSI
   controllers, that is "s" in place of "h", so /dev/sda, and so on. The
   number of drives depends on the number of controllers on the Mother
   Board or the extended boards. Usually 4 are available. What will be the
   number of a drive is up to the controller card and the way it's read by
   the kernel, so difficult to say at first.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

  5.1.3. Flash Drives Names

   Flash drives are usually not connected through IDE or SATA interfaces
   and so don't uses the same names. Several interfaces are used with each
   different names. The kernel documentations gives the names.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

  5.1.4. Low level Devices and Extra naming

   You will find in some apps references to lowlevel SCSI devices and
   various naming conventions, for example (wodim is the command line cd
   burner):

             wodim --scanbus
   scsibus1:
           1,0,0   100) *
           1,1,0   101) 'TSSTcorp' 'CD/DVDW TS-L632D' 'ac00' Removable CD-ROM
           1,2,0   102) *
           1,3,0   103) *
           1,4,0   104) *
           1,5,0   105) *
           1,6,0   106) *
           1,7,0   107) *

   And you may have to use some sort of SCSI:1,1,0option to access the
   CDROM. try to avoid using this as much as possible, as it's very error
   prone and should be let to programmers only. I only mention it because
   you can't always avoid it.

   If you do "cat /dev/ | more", you can see:

             lrwxrwxrwx  1 root root             3 mars  9 07:56 scd0 -> sr0
   (...)
   crw-r-----  1 root disk       21,   0 mars  9 07:56 sg0
   crw-rw----+ 1 root disk       21,   1 mars  9 07:56 sg1

   These scd, sr, sg devices are lowlevel interface (notice the "c" for
   "character"). Try not using them. dmesgand more /var/log/boot.msgshould
   give you the usable sdxx device, like (short summary):

          <5>sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] 976773168 512-byte hardware sectors: (500GB/465GiB)
<5>sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] Write Protect is off
<7>sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] Mode Sense: 00 3a 00 00

   This mean the drive is /dev/sda.

   However these files (given by dmesgand more /var/log/boot.msg) used to
   be easy to read but are no more. Now the kernel starts in parallel
   several drivers, so the messages are mixed, you can have

             <6> sda:<6>USB Universal Host Contr'ller Interface driver v3.0

   This don't mean that your sda drive is an usb one, but the usb module
   was started at the same time as the drive one and send it's messages
   simultaneously. You still have a /dev/sdadrive.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

  5.1.5. New Media Names

   Here the dmesg content for inserting an USB key:

            scsi7 : SCSI emulation for USB Mass Storage devices
  usb 5-3: New USB device found, idVendor=0951, idProduct=160e
  usb 5-3: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=3
  usb 5-3: Product: DataTraveler 2.0
  usb 5-3: Manufacturer: Kingston
  usb 5-3: SerialNumber: 200706200000000059188185
  usb-storage: device found at 9
  usb-storage: waiting for device to settle before scanning
  scsi 7:0:0:0: Direct-Access     Kingston DataTraveler 2.0 1.00 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
  sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] 3930112 512-byte hardware sectors: (2.01GB/1.87GiB)
  sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] Write Protect is off
  sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] Mode Sense: 23 00 00 00
  sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] Assuming drive cache: write through
  sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] 3930112 512-byte hardware sectors: (2.01GB/1.87GiB)
  sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] Write Protect is off
  sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] Mode Sense: 23 00 00 00
  sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] Assuming drive cache: write through
   sdb: sdb1
  sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk
  sd 7:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg2 type 0
  usb-storage: device scan complete

   You see there all what we where speaking about right now! SCSI
   emulation, scsi, sd and sg names, but also the sdb that is most
   important for us.

   Here are the messages for a high speed SDHC card:

          tifm_core: MMC/SD card detected in socket 0:1
mmc1: new SDHC card at address d555
mmcblk0: mmc1:d555 SD04G 3.79GiB
 mmcblk0: p1

/dev/mmcblk0p1 on /media/H2SD type vfat (rw,nosuid,nodev,noatime,flush,uid=1000,utf8,shortname=lower)

   When the two cards are probably the same flash memory chip, the USB key
   uses the USB interface and SCSI emulation, the SDHC card uses the PCMCIA
   slot of the laptop, with a special device naming (/dev/mmcblk0). The
   use, as far as partitionning is involved is the same.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

  5.1.6. Disk ID

   In a world where disks are many and removable, it's impossible to track
   what device is used by what disk. So there are now many way of using a
   disk name. This makes it extremely difficult to work with basic tools.
   These are "Disk labels" and "Disk UUID", also "Partition Labels". See
   fstab man page for details.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

                         6. Partition Naming in Linux

6.1. Numbers

   Partition naming is thanksfully simpler than drive one. Partitions are
   simply given a number from 0 up (decimal). Sometime a "p" is appended on
   front of the number:

           cat /proc/partitions
   major minor  #blocks  name

      8     0  488386584 sda
      8     1   52436128 sda1
      8     2          1 sda2
      8     5    2104483 sda5
      8     6   20972826 sda6
      8     7   52436128 sda7
      8     8  360434308 sda8
    179     0    3979776 mmcblk0
    179     1    3975680 mmcblk0p1

   As you see, partition devices are listed in /proc/partition. This
   file... is not a real file but is created on the fly. Don't worry, for
   what we need it's a file.

   Notice the "p1" partition name for the SDHC card.

   Max number of partitions is 15 for SCSI and all the drives using the new
   SATA driver, 63 for IDE drives (0 is the full drive, 0 to 15 is four
   bits 0 to 64, 6 bits)

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

6.2. Meaning of the Numbers

   Not all the numbers have the same meaning. This mess come from the PC
   history. One can divide floppies with partitions, but then 4 ones seems
   sufficient. But then come Hard drives :-). So the partitons numbers 1,
   2, 3 and 4 are primarypartitions. One drive can only have 4 primaries.

   To go further, we have to use one of these primary as a big one and
   sub-partition this one, so to have logicalpartitions. The big
   extendedpartition can be any of the 4.

   So, remember, the primary partitions are inside the drive and the
   logical partitions are inside one of the primary, called the
   extendedpartition.

   Once the logical partitions are created, it's no more recommended to
   write directly to the extended one. Writing to an extended partition
   would erase the logical ones like writing directly to a hard drive erase
   the partitons. Beware, it's possible!!

   If, after creating 4 primary partitions, all the disk space is not used,
   the remaining space is lost (unusable), so most of the time, create the
   desired primaries, then at last the extended one with all the remaining
   room.

   It's not necessary to create 4 primaries. You could use only one
   extended (Linux only), but there are some advantages of using primaries.

   Primaries being 4, the first logical partition is always 5. So any
   partition with number of five and up is a logical one.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      7. Device Major and Minor Numbers

   The only important thing with a device file are its major and minor
   device numbers, which are shown instead of the file size:

         $ ls -l /dev/hda
   brw-rw---- 1 root disk 8, 0 mars  9 07:56 /dev/sda

   Shows permissions ( brw-rw----), owner (root), group (disk), major
   device number (8), minor device number (0), date (mars 9 - french, no
   year), hour (07:56) and device name (guess :-).

   When accessing a device file, the major number selects which device
   driver is being called to perform the input/output operation. This call
   is being done with the minor number as a parameter and it is entirely up
   to the driver how the minor number is being interpreted. The driver
   documentation usually describes how the driver uses minor numbers.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

                              8. Partition Types

8.1. Linux Partition Types

   A partition is labeled to host a certain kind of file system (not to be
   confused with a volume label. Such a file system could be the linux
   standard ext3 file system or linux swap space, or even foreign file
   systems like (Microsoft) NTFS or (Sun) UFS. There is a numerical code
   associated with each partition type. For example, the code for ext2 is
   0x83and linux swap is 0x82(0x mean hexadecimal).

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

8.2. Foreign Partition Types

   The partition type codes have been arbitrarily chosen (you can't figure
   out what they should be) and they are particular to a given operating
   system. Therefore, it is theoretically possible that if you use two
   operating systems with the same hard drive, the same code might be used
   to designate two different partition types. OS/2 marks its partitions
   with a 0x07 type and so does Windows NT's NTFS. MS-DOS allocates several
   type codes for its various flavors of FAT file systems: 0x01, 0x04 and
   0x06 are known. DR-DOS used 0x81 to indicate protected FAT partitions,
   creating a type clash with Linux/Minix at that time, but neither
   Linux/Minix nor DR-DOS are widely used any more.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

8.3. Swap Partitions

   Every process running on your computer is allocated a number of blocks
   of RAM. These blocks are called pages. The set of in-memory pages which
   will be referenced by the processor in the very near future is called a
   "working set." Linux tries to predict these memory accesses (assuming
   that recently used pages will be used again in the near future) and
   keeps these pages in RAM if possible.

   If you have too many processes running on a machine, the kernel will try
   to free up RAM by writing pages to disk. This is what swap space is for.
   It effectively increases the amount of memory you have available.
   However, disk I/O is about a hundred times slower than reading from and
   writing to RAM. Consider this emergency memory and not extra memory.

   If memory becomes so scarce that the kernel pages out from the working
   set of one process in order to page in for another, the machine is said
   to be thrashing. Some readers might have inadvertenly experienced this:
   the hard drive is grinding away like crazy, but the computer is slow to
   the point of being unusable. Swap space is something you need to have,
   but it is no substitute for sufficient RAM.

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

8.4. Complete List

   From the fdisk help:

         0  Vide            1e  Hidden W95 FAT1 80  Old Minix       bf  Solaris
 1  FAT12           24  NEC DOS         81  Minix / old Lin c1  DRDOS/sec (FAT-
 2  XENIX root      39  Plan 9          82  Linux swap / So c4  DRDOS/sec (FAT-
 3  XENIX usr       3c  PartitionMagic  83  Linux           c6  DRDOS/sec (FAT-
 4  FAT16 <32M      40  Venix 80286     84  OS/2 hidden C:  c7  Syrinx
 5  Extended        41  PPC PReP Boot   85  Linux extended  da  Non-FS data
 6  FAT16           42  SFS             86  NTFS volume set db  CP/M / CTOS / .
 7  HPFS/NTFS       4d  QNX4.x          87  NTFS volume set de  Dell Utility
 8  AIX             4e  QNX4.x 2nd part 88  Linux plein tex df  BootIt
 9  AIX bootable    4f  QNX4.x 3rd part 8e  Linux LVM       e1  DOS access
 a  OS/2 Boot Manag 50  OnTrack DM      93  Amoeba          e3  DOS R/O
 b  W95 FAT32       51  OnTrack DM6 Aux 94  Amoeba BBT      e4  SpeedStor
 c  W95 FAT32 (LBA) 52  CP/M            9f  BSD/OS          eb  BeOS fs
 e  W95 FAT16 (LBA) 53  OnTrack DM6 Aux a0  IBM Thinkpad hi ee  GPT
 f  W95 Etendu (LBA 54  OnTrackDM6      a5  FreeBSD         ef  EFI (FAT-12/16/
10  OPUS            55  EZ-Drive        a6  OpenBSD         f0  Linux/PA-RISC b
11  Hidden FAT12    56  Golden Bow      a7  NeXTSTEP        f1  SpeedStor
12  Compaq diagnost 5c  Priam Edisk     a8  UFS Darwin      f4  SpeedStor
14  Hidden FAT16 <3 61  SpeedStor       a9  NetBSD          f2  DOS secondary
16  Hidden FAT16    63  GNU HURD or Sys ab  Amorce Darwin   fb  VMware VMFS
17  Hidden HPFS/NTF 64  Novell Netware  b7  BSDI fs         fc  VMware VMKCORE
18  AST SmartSleep  65  Novell Netware  b8  BSDI swap       fd  Linux raid auto
1b  Hidden W95 FAT3 70  DiskSecure Mult bb  Boot Wizard hid fe  LANstep
1c  Hidden W95 FAT3 75  PC/IX           be  Amorce Solaris  ff  BBT

   ------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            9. How Many Partitions

   The exact number of partitions allowed on a drive is fixed by the
   kernel. So you can find the exact number is the kernel documentation,
   the last version is maintained here
   [http://kernel.org/pub/linux/docs/device-list/]
   http://kernel.org/pub/linux/docs/device-list/If you have the kernel
   source installed, you can find your version on your computer at
   /usr/src/linux/Documentation/devices.txt.

   Look at "limit on partition". Find yours. Common SATA number is 31, SCSI
   is 15, some are less.





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