Partitioning with Linux

When it comes to partitioning in Linux the situation is quite complex and difficult. Sure, as usual, almost everything which you can imagine is possible at the level of the command line, but when you are lazy you don’t want to use the command line.

On the GUI-side there is first to mention the usual tools you get when you install a Linux distribution: these tools, like for example yast or the anaconda DiskDruid are nice, but some of them are only available during the system installation (like on Fedora Core), and they are all together distribution dependend.

But there is the well known qtparted. It gives all the basic functions together with a nice and easy to use GUI:

qtparted_default_view

There you can do the usual tasks with partitions: create, modify, delete, format, etc.

qtparted_modify_partition

But, and that is important: the development stopped two years ago since the author does not have the time anymore. Another developer group took over, but there has been only bugfixing releases for the program so far so that it lacks xfs support for example which I need since I use xfs quite a lot. Related to that, you cannot be sure what qtparted exactly supports and what not until you run it from a shell and look at the output in the shell.
Additionally it has some bugs and does not handle automount very well – for example you have no option to update the list of the devices: when you insert a new device like a USB flash drive after you started the program you have to restart the program to modify the USB flash drive.

Nevertheless: qtparted was the most quoted tool since there were not so many other options. But today I noticed a new program, this time from the gnome world: The name is, surprise, gparted🙂
The basics are the same, and so the default window is similar:

gparted_default_view

The available functions are also quite similar, but there you already see small, but important improvements: there is a specific resize button, a umount button, which is very useful when you have to modify a USB flash drive and the option to refresh the drive list – when you have inserted a USB flash drive for example (this option is not in this menu part but under “GParted”.

gparted_modify_partition

Other things which make this program quite smooth are the additional information you can show or hide:

gparted_additional_harddisk_information

It is just useful to only have these information when you need them. It feels smooth.

But even more important is the feature table you can call everytime inside the program:

gparted_feature_overview

That gives you a quick overview what you can perform on the machine and does not let you stay in the dark since the abilities to modify partitions can differ from distribution to distribution and depends on the installed tools. In this screenshot for example I added the reiserfs-utils which gives me the ability to read, create and modify (smaller and bigger) reiserfs partitions:

gparted_feature_overview_with_reiserfsutils

Again just very smooth.

Gparted is also able to handle automount: it is deactivated when you start the program which is rational while you are performing so low level file system tasks. (And, btw., more detailed screenshots of gparted can be found on the homepage.)

If you are using Fedora, btw., both these programs are just a yum away, they are both in the extras repository. Gparted also has a related project where a live CD is provided which is again very sensible for instance if you want to prepare a computer for installing a Linux distribution which does not come along with a good partitioning tool.

It’s nice to see something moving again in the area of partitioning with Linux – and it is even nicer to see that it moves so much🙂