Partitioning for a Distro Hopper

Does anyone have any recommendations as to how best to partition a 256 GB SSD to keep 4 - 5 different distros on it? I am an admitted distro hopper and I’d love to just have one machine with multiple distros available!


I would have said ~ 300Gb per distro but since that’s not an option …
the minimum you could get away with is over 8Gb per distro
256Gb disk is 238Gb formatted
as your hopping I suggest one big one which you map /home/user to
So 5 distro partitions 20Gb each
home partition 132Gb
and a 6Gb boot partition
If you use a swap partition then take 1.5 - 2 x ram from home ie. for 8Gb ram swap is 12-16Gb and home reduced to 120 or 116Gb. A total of 8 partitions.
You could use a swapfile but it would tend to sit in the 20Gb distrospace(s) not a good idea here.
BEST OPTION reduce distros to 4 and use the 5th hopper partition as swap reducing it to 2x ram size:
4 distro partitions (80Gb)
1 swap partition (16Gb)
1 home (136Gb)
1 boot (6Gb)
You might want to practice the disk partitioning in a virtual machine first.


Thank you! I like your option for 4 distros!

Is the 256Gb entirely available for distros, or is some of it required for your data files? If the latter, presumably you’ll want to be able to access those files from whichever distro you boot. You can get away with 30-40Gb per distro, and I doubt you’d want more than 4Gb for swap space. On that basis, I’d suggest root partitions for each distro at 35Gb apiece, a single 4Gb swap partition, and the remainder of the space as a data partition which would be available to all the distros.

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Thank you! I’d need to keep space for data files as you said.

Why not use a flash drive, or an SDHC card, and the app “Multi-Boot USB”, and just place your downloaded iso’s on it. Then, you can boot from any one of those distros. That is what I do.

That’s a good thought. Are you able to access your native files when you boot from a usb?

Yes, I believe so. Try it out.

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I use to partition-format-install-delete-do it all again a lot in the past, and in my own personal biased opinion, I noticed that doing so reduces the life of my hdd’s significantly!, and they are not free. So instead I am using VM’s now for distro exploring, installation is faster, snapshots/clones take 1 minute, and my favorite, having multiple on for comparison seals the deal… I don’t need to go to bare metal again (perhaps not in the near future), can’t think of a situation that would required me to. Cheers.

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I’m considering trying VM, I haven’t used it before. Thanks for the suggestion!

I agree that VMs are great, and easy enough to set up in Virtual Box. There are memory implications to consider though, particularly if you are using Windows 7/10 as either a host or guest.

When you set up a VM, you are asked to allocate an amount of memory to it. As far as your host system is concerned, this memory is effectively used in full whenever you run the VM (I just launched my Windows 7 VM on my SolydX host, then looked at the system monitor on the host to confirm this really is the case). For a 64-bit Windows OS guest, you would ideally allocate at least 8GB (or leave at least that amount if it was the host): for a Linux guest, you can get away with a smaller figure, but even then I think less than 4Gb wouldn’t be ideal for most 64-bit distros.

If you are looking to work simultaneously on the guest and host systems, then you need to ensure that you have retained enough memory for the work you’re doing on the host. If your work pattern is more like working for a period of time in the guest, then closing it down to return to working in the host, then you can afford to allocate more to the guest (because that memory is only used while the VM is running, and is available again to the host as soon as the VM is closed down).

If you plan to run multiple VMs concurrently (i.e. have them open at the same time), you will need to make sure you have plenty of memory.

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I would have one /Home partition fro all the distros, with all the files etc, say 100Gb. I would have a / partition for each distro say 30Gb and depending on the RAM you have (if more than 4Gb I would make a small SWAP) you can choose the size of SWAP. So, 256 minus 100 = 156 - SWAP size - divide the rest with 4 and each part use to install a distro you want. Cheers!

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Thanks - follow up question: I am going to do this on my “test” system first (without Nvidia issues) and I am planning to use Antergos as the initial install then add the additional distros. Antergos gives you the option at installation to create a separate “home” partition would it be advisable to do this or should I not create the “home” partition until after the first OS is installed?

I would create /Home at the first installation. Afterwards I would create / and /Boot (if you want) for each consequent install but keep the /Home as ext4 without formatting. That way you keep whatever was there for each distro. So be careful to leave enough space for each / partition.

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I am planning to try this on my backup machine. Can you tell me if this partitioning scheme would work and if not how do you suggest I change it? This particular laptop has 128 GB SSD

/boot (fat32) 300 mb
/ (ext4) 30 gb
/home (ext4) 85 gb
swap 10 gb

to install multiple distros which partition should I decrease in size? Do you recommend any additional partitions?

Thanks again!

It will work. However, I don’t think you would need such a large swap.
If you are looking to install multiple distros I would say make sure you have enough
in the / partition ( I would say 20Gb) for each distro, smaller Swap (4Gb) and what is left
use for /Home for all the distros.

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So I don’t need a separate root partition for eAch distribution?

Oh, never mind I understand. I should increase the / partition to accommodate multiple distros then the rest goes to the /home partition?

Each distro needs it’s own / partition at least 20Gb

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Thank you! I realized that once I re - read your post. I am going to give this a shot and I’ll report back!