How to set partitions during Zorin install process

Early last year I switched from Win7 Pro to Zorin Core 15.3 (64-bit) with very few transition complaints. However, sub-optimal advice led me to set partition sizes that made most of my 320 GB HDD inaccessible. Since efforts to remedy this with GParted have been problematic, I'm ready to install a fresh copy of Zorin Core 15.3 via "Erase disk and install Zorin" per instructions at https://zorinos.com/help/install-zorin-os/

  • have ISO, sha256 checksum match aok
  • made bootable USB drive with Startup Disk Creator
  • copied personal files to portable HD

However, all is on hold because the above instructions don't cover partitioning.

I consulted several posts, e.g. https://forum.zorin.com/t/partitioning-during-installation/1746, but cannot find any that are thorough and deal with issues like recommended sizes for /[filesystem root], /boot, /home, /var, swap, and Extended partitions IN PROPORTION TO the size of your hard drive.

So my question is: Since the Forum and pages cited don't fully address the topic of partitioning during a fresh install, can someone please help by providing definitive, Zorin-specific instructions or a link to same?

Would you like to try out Zorin os 16 Beta, instead of reinstalling 15? Might save yourself from another installation a couple months from now...

For partitioning:
You only really need a Swap partition if you utilize the hibernate function.

It is optional as to whether you want to partition /home separately from /.
If I was doing so, I would probably give 64gigs of the 320gig drive to root (/) and the rest to /home as /home is what fills with the most data.
Some may suggest more than that. I am considering the 320gig starting total... But really... the /Root directories should not really need more than ten or twenty gigs ideally. Sixty-four gigs ought to be more than enough.
I do not see any reason to have /boot and /var on separate partitions: If /var is on a separate partition, this may seem to save space as /var is the directory that fills with logs. But the Math is the Same. If /var fills with logs, it would fill the same amount of the total 320 gigs you have. A person does not need to confuse or complicate, much less deal with multiple partitions if they allow plenty of fill-room in / which contains /boot and /var.
Putting /boot on a separate partition can lessen the load on initram and bootloader - which can be useful for a real powerhouse user. For the average daily driver though - I personally think it is more trouble than it is worth.
(opinion).
Although many recommend putting /home on a separate partition (And I do as well...), I sometimes think it is more strongly recommended than necessary. It may help in the case of a re-install of the OS. But so would regular backups. If the cause of the re-installation of the OS is HDD /SDD failure, that separate partition will do you no favors. I never separate them myself. I back up regularly and when I need to reinstall - I end up with the same result. I prefer to have my full HDD capacity available to me.

Thanks again Aravisian. I considered 16 beta but was never lured by extra bells & whistles in the first place, vs LEAN. Pitch it again if you want, but if you convince me I'll have to redo all my preparations.

As you may recall (or not), /var at 7.2 GB was what plagued me whenever /var/lib/snapd/snaps got flooded with updates - not the logs which I easily cleared with Stacer. Later on I got "insufficient space" messages on accepting a Freedesktop Platform update in /var/lib/flatpak/runtime -- but wasn't sure what to remove from where to recover needed space safely.

Anyway, you seem to be saying:
a) partitions are arbitrary
b) /boot and /var can be folders within root (i.e. don't need dedicated ptns to work properly)
c) "Extended" ptn is unnecessary
d) Therefore (if I'm not a power-user) my ptns can be limited thus on a new install:

/	    64 GB [ample]
/home 	252 GB [though you don't find it necessary]
swap	4+ GB [(as it is now) - IF hibernate function is utilized]
	_____
Total	320 GB

Am I reading you right? Is that really it?
Are associated "device names" (like /dev/sda1 etc.) also arbitrary and applied automagically? And finally, will all partitioning options be evident once I select "Other" in "Installation type"?

We are in the realm of Personalization; opinions.
You can have everything on One single partition or you can spread everything out on several partitions if you are using EFI with GPT. Opinions can be strong and are often well supported. Even a very well supported opinion must apply to your needs to be relevant.

It's like getting into Dating. Everyone has lots of opinions and lots of advice and if any of it was worth anything; the world wouldn't be such a mess.
Application matters. And while a person using SETI@home might have certain needs for network speed, a novelist in a lighthouse might have utterly different priorities.

Which is why I think you cannot find a definitive answer on the internet as to what partition sizes you need. I do not use Flatpak or Snap at all and the first thing I do when I install the OS is remove those. Entirely. You make a very valid point about how sandboxed and oft-updated applications can become Room Hogs, complete with some guy on the couch- Something I forgot about as I do not use either. That being said, I still think 64gigs really should be plenty.
But you - as an individual with your own priorities - may feel that 150gigs is more than enough for your /Home partition. In which case, you could assign all the reminder to / containing /var and have that peace of mind. Even if it was far more than you need it to be, as long as you are comfortable and not stressed; you are suiting your computer to you.
"Swap Partition" is different from Swap File. Swap partition is only really necessary if enabling hibernation. A Swap File can be used on any partition and is easy to set up or modify.

In my AnnLanders opinion, it is unnecessary to create a separate partition for /var simply because the same limit applies. Adding a partition creates complexity and more moving parts. This applies to /boot, as well.
It can be helpful to have /boot on a separate partition if you are running LVM with full disk encryption or dual booting windows. Some say it allows the machine to be bootable even if part of the drive is corrupted. But I say if you are booting a corrupted drive, you already have a problem and are likely in the process of creating new ones.
We see again where application matters. If you are not an agent carrying your notebook in a briefcase with full disk encryption Or a person that never does backups and worries about hdd failure (which is a bit of its own magic...) then you would only be needlessly complicating your setup by building groups of separate partitions. And I am sure a quick net search would yield plenty of opinions stating strongly that they should all be on separate partitions. With iron chains and aircraft radar, too.

Partition Options during installation:
Let's say you would like to create your new installation with a separate partition for swap, /var, /boot and /home. When you select the Something Else option in installation and open the ubiquity gparted application, you will need to modify any existing partitions to claim free space, then adjust each to be the size you want, then set the installer to recognize the partitions for each directory. I would not really call it evident in anyway as nothing on the screen will advise you on what to do. It only displays the values. You would need to have a Plan (Perhaps a written chart on a piece of notepaper), following each step and checking your work to ensure no mistakes as you go.

On Zorin OS 16: It does come with bells and whistles. :wink: Jelly Mode was fun to look at. For a minute.
I have not used it since. Not knocking it.
If there was a reason I would encourage a person to up their installation to Zorin 16...

  • Speed and performance. Utterly unmatched. If you want your computer to be faster than Ubuntu 20.04 or Linux Mint, this will do it, easy-peasy. I do not know if this falls under "lean" or not, but it is a greyhound.
  • Being up to date on more current editions and kernels. Only you can decide how well this applies to you. If you are like me, then you do not get hot in the face over the Latest and Greatest. More often than not, it is the old, with a shiny wax layer. But for some packages, a later update really brings very useful tools. For me, Cad, Gimp and Blender all come to mind where this applies. Installing Z16 now may prevent you having to do a full installation later...
    But, Zorin OS15.3 is still LTS, still supported, still great. Only you can weigh it all and Convince Yourself of what you want.

Hopefully my lighthouse novel here is helpful, if a bit lacking in clear specifics and opinionated.

@cliffe If you want a second opinion.
Root (/), Home (/home), swap is what I have always created. That was based on an old installation tutorial by Wolfman on the old forum.

As for Z16, whist the Z16Beta does indeed seem to perform very well, the devs are understood to be developing a non-destructive update to Z16 from Z15.3 at some point in time. :smiley:

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Very helpful, actually. Here's an obvious question I should've asked at the outset: In the new install process from bootable USB drive, when I reach "Installation type," what happens partition-wise if I simply select "Erase disk and install Zorin" and "Install Now"? I presume all the old partitions disappear, but what exactly happens on that score automagically?

That's excellent news all around. Many thanks!

Partitioning is very problematic at first, if you use Gparted for partitioning then all other distro may have documentation for it, if I can't find in zorin forum I look into Ubuntu because it is very much the same

I look also for standard folder hierarchy back when I was using centos, Redhat recommend a minimum of 10gb for root... Which I tried but those Linux OS are for servers and encountered memo shortage, so 10GB for the root isn't enough for desktop environment, I now using 30gb for my root "I know it is overkill", and the rest for my home.

Added:

In regards with snap... Only use it if you want an up-to-date software... I use Flutter for app development and I needed an updated version of it so I install only flutter and android studio using snap, also I'm using firebase for my backend and it needs a node version a little later from the Ubuntu 18.04 repository, so I install nvm repo from the 18.04 repo and install the latest version of node instead in snap... You see snap sucks memory in your /var/lib which is in our root directory. I hope these experiences gives you insights. I never tried installing snap in custom directory I use the default which is in /var/lib

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Yes, exactly. The entire disk will be utilized. The Ubiquity installer will set up swap automagically and the / and /home directories will be on the same partition.

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Looks like I spoke too soon. All went smoothly, no defects on the USB install drive, selected "Erase disk and install Zorin" (w/o touching partitions), followed prompts (e.g. connecting to internet) successfully, all auto-downloads and installs completed. But after Enter at the final prompt to "restart now", and then following blackscreen instruction to "please remove install medium", the end result was Invalid partition table!_ [sic]

Hitting Enter on that yields the following:
Broadcom UNDI PXE-2.1 v15.0.12
Copyright [etc]
PXE-E61: Media test failure. check cable
PXE-M0F: Exiting Broadcom PXE ROM.
No Boot Device Found. Press any key to reboot the machine_

As you might guess, pressing any key just repeats the same loop unless you reinsert the USB drive and hit F12 for the boot menu, which I finally had to do. So I'm now writing this via the "Try Zorin" option on the USB stick.

Sorry to make this longer, but will just add that I'm able to use the Disk utility to "see" the 320 GB HD "volumes" which read as follows
Partition 1
Size= 537 MB, Device=/dev/sda1, UUID=9DEC-9726, Type=EFI System, Contents=FAT (32-bit version) - Not Mounted
Partition 2
Size=320 GB, Device=/dev/sda2, UUID=cadf0a38-33ea-4b7a-b5f3-82f1c7df0b44, Type=Linux Filesystem, Contents=Ext4 (version 1.0) - Not Mounted
One extra clue is "Partitioning: GUID partition table"

I'm not happy. I need a proper solution ASAP. If you can't provide one, is there any chance this can be pushed upstairs to the Zorin developer team? Thanks again for all your help thus far.

The 500meg partition is the EFI boot partition formatted for ntfs (WIndows).

The step by step guide in the solution here should get you fixed right up:

I downloaded and ran boot-repair, got an error, and sent this off to those folks. see http://paste.ubuntu.com/p/8SmbDD6jjX/ (good for a month).

An ubuntu community help forum search for Locked-NVram led to an item saying this is a hardware problem whose best fix is resetting the CMOS jumpers. (I have a Dell Latitude E5430 with Intel Ivybridge CPUs). Anything else you can suggest would be welcome, especially if it could be done in BIOS settings without messing with my laptop's motherboard. (I don't have the manual for it, for starters.)

I looked at the HDD with Gparted, which showed the 500+ MB EFI boot partition's filesystem type as FAT32 and the big one at /dev/sda2 (which still has the new copy of Zorin installed [but inaccessible] @ 14+ GB with 283 GB remaining unused), with filesystem type ext4. I'm wondering if that should be changed to FAT32 as well. Also it is not flagged. Should it be? I don't fully understand flagging, but think I can apply one in Gparted.

One other thing noted in "details" is the type of partition table is "gpt".

The saga continues... (groan!)

Good news! After bumbling around like the classic newbie I am, hoping to avoid taking my laptop apart, I decided to investigate BIOS settings. Powered off, removed the USB stick, restarted and tapped F2 for BIOS setup. On a hunch, in Boot Sequence, which was set to try Legacy first, I switched it to UEFI (ubuntu) instead, and clicked Apply. It worked like a charm, and the new install of Zorin Core 15.3 launched without a hitch, proving it had been successfully installed the whole time. I hope this final note will be of help to someone else stumbling upon it. Many thanks to Aravisian and zabadabadoo for all their help and patience!

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