This is a Linux Mini-HOWTO text. A Mini-HOWTO is a small text explaining some business related to Linux installation and maintenance tutorial style. It's mini, because either the text or the topic it discusses are too small for a real HOWTO or even a book. A HOWTO is not a reference: that's what manual pages are for.
This particular Mini-HOWTO teaches you how to plan and layout disk space for your Linux system. It talks about disk hardware, partitions, swap space sizing and positioning considerations, file systems, file system types and related topics. The intent is to teach some background knowlegde, so we are talking mainly principles and not tools in this text.
Ideally, this document should be read before your first installation, but this is somehow difficult for most people. First timers have other problems than disk layout optimization, too. So you are probably someone who just finished a Linux installation and is now thinking about ways to optimize this installation or how to avoid some nasty miscalculations in the next one. Well, expect some desire to tear down and rebuild your installation when you are finished with this text. :-)
This Mini-HOWTO limits itself to planning and layouting disk space most of the time. It does not discuss the usage of fdisk, LILO, mke2fs or backup programs. There are other HOWTOs that address these problems. Please see the Linux HOWTO Index for current information on Linux HOWTOs. There are instructions for obtaining HOWTO documents in the index, too.
To learn how to estimate the various size and speed requirements for different parts of the filesystem, see "Linux Multiple Disks Layout mini-HOWTO", by Gjoen Stein <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
For instructions and considerations regarding disks with more than 1024 cylinders, see "Linux Large Disk mini-HOWTO", Andries Brouwer <email@example.com>.
For instructions on limiting disk space usage per user (quotas), see "Linux Quota mini-HOWTO", by Albert M.C. Tam <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Currently, there is no general document on disk backup, but there are several documents with pointers to specific backup solutions. See "Linux ADSM Backup mini-HOWTO", by Thomas Koenig <Thomas.Koenig@ciw.uni-karlsruhe.de> for instructions on integrating Linux into an IBM ADSM backup environment. See "Linux Backup with MSDOS mini-HOWTO", by Christopher Neufeld <email@example.com> for information about MS-DOS driven Linux backups.
For instructions on writing and submitting a HOWTO document, see the Linux HOWTO Index, by Tim Bynum <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Browsing through /usr/src/linux/Documentation can be very instructive, too. See ide.txt and scsi.txt for some background information on the properties of your disk drivers and have a look at the filesystems/ subdirectory.