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Does Fedora support installation to logical partitions?

asked 2015-07-19 09:47:25 -0500

sammyg gravatar image

updated 2015-07-19 19:23:51 -0500

mether gravatar image

It seems to me that Fedora 22 does not support installation to logical partitions. By logical partitions, I mean logical partitions... ones found in extended partitions on MBR disks. Not logical volumes or LVM things. I have attempted to install Fedora 22 alongside Ubuntu 15.04 (and Windows 10 preview) on the same disk, but without much luck. In fact, it has caused me a great deal of pain. (In fact, I believe this may be related to my previous question about the Dracut rescue shell I kept running into.)

I have just finished installing Fedora 22 now, and I finished installing Ubuntu 15.04 before that. I have started all over again. (I don't have Windows 10 preview installed this time.) Ubuntu boots normally, and Fedora boots as well. But I notice immediately that Ubuntu is installed in a logical partition, and Fedora is installed in a primary partition.


Disk /dev/sda: 500GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
Partition Table: msdos
Disk Flags: 

Number  Start   End     Size    Type      File system     Flags
 1      1048kB  66.0GB  66.0GB  extended
 5      1049kB  50.0GB  50.0GB  logical   ext4
 6      50.0GB  66.0GB  16.0GB  logical   linux-swap(v1)
 2      66.0GB  120GB   53.7GB  primary   ext4            boot
 3      120GB   137GB   17.2GB  primary   linux-swap(v1)


Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0xc46b802b

Device     Boot     Start       End   Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/sda1            2046 128907263 128905218 61.5G  5 Extended
/dev/sda2  *    128907264 233764863 104857600   50G 83 Linux
/dev/sda3       233764864 267319295  33554432   16G 82 Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda5            2048  97656831  97654784 46.6G 83 Linux
/dev/sda6        97658880 128907263  31248384 14.9G 82 Linux swap / Solaris

Partition table entries are not in disk order.

The Fedora installer doesn't seem to have any option for choosing between primary and logical partitions. The Ubuntu installer on the other hand does have such option. So I am wondering... does Fedora support installing to logical partitions at all? Perhaps via command line, if not via the graphical interface? Or is the LVM method the only way to install Fedora to logical... volumes/partitions?

The way I see it, I should be given the option to select what kind of partition I want (primary or logical), instead of just "standard partitioning" (what the hell is standard partitioning anyway?). And! The partition that Fedora gets installed to should be given the partition number 7, followed by 8 for the swap partition (sda7, and sda8). Not to mention that they should be placed at an offset beginning after the Ubuntu partitions, or I should at least be given the option to do so myself. If I am not mistaken, the Fedora partitioning process moves my Ubuntu partitions to make room for the Fedora partitions.

I take back that last part about moving partitions. I jumped to conclusion without looking ... (more)

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From what I've observed, you are more likely to create a poor/unsupported configuration if the installer gives you the option to. Your original partition layout is a case in point. For most all use cases, you're better off letting the installer figure out that side of things.

randomuser gravatar imagerandomuser ( 2015-07-19 18:26:24 -0500 )edit

Just to clarify, by poor or unsupported configuration you mean partition layout? And by letting the installer figure it out, you mean letting the installer (setup program) partition the disk automatically? I know there is an option for that, and it is set to that by default. But how would it know how big partitions to create? I mean in case you plan on installing a second (like in my case) or a third OS for a multi-boot configuration? Wouldn't that add some extra work of having to shrink the auto-created partitions, or even change their type to something else for compatibility?

sammyg gravatar imagesammyg ( 2015-07-19 18:49:06 -0500 )edit

@randomuser I will take your advice with me as I continue to explore the world of Linux. :-) I'm afraid I don't have that kind of experience under my belt (yet) to be able to foresee problems like that. But this one sure was interesting.

sammyg gravatar imagesammyg ( 2015-07-19 18:57:05 -0500 )edit

Yes, I'm talking about the partition layout. The installer deals with mount points, not partitions, and you can set their size. There are a handful of questions on here like yours, or cases where someone has created four primary partitions, more... There's been a lot of discussion and usability testing around the storage functionality, and it seems most end users have a better experience if they don't have to worry about low level partitioning. The exception are cases like yours, where an unconventional and imcompatible layout has been deliberately created.

randomuser gravatar imagerandomuser ( 2015-07-19 19:45:41 -0500 )edit

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answered 2015-07-19 13:49:05 -0500

hedayat gravatar image

Fedora normally doesn't try to resize your extended partition for you. It tries to create its partitions in the available free space. In your case, Fedora has not created logical partitions for you, simply because your extended partition doesn't have any free space for new partitions! Your extended partition (which is certainly created before you tried to install Fedora), starts at 1048kB and end at 66.0GB, which is completely occupied by your Ubuntu partitions. There were no free space in your extended partition for Fedora to create logical partitions inside. Therefore, Fedora, was forced to create the partitions as primary partition because your extended partition didn't have any free space.

I don't know if Fedora supports resizing extended partition, but if supported, you should select manual partitioning, then resize your extended partition and then create new partitions which will naturally be created as logical partitions.

Also, Fedora couldn't create primary partitions before your extended partition, since there is no free space before that.

Fedora certainly can be installed inside logical partitions, but I don't remember if it'll ask you about it WHEN it can do both. But in your case, where your extended partition is already created and has no free space, Fedora would certainly create primary partitions. Even if you had plenty of free space after your extended partition but already had 3 primary partitions in addition to the extended partition; Fedora would tell you that there is no free space to install Fedora.

Therefore, if you wanted to have Fedora in logical partitions, you could enlarge your extended partition to fill HDD before starting Fedora installation. Then Fedora would create logical partitions inside it. I don't know what happens if there is free space both inside an extended partition and outside it.

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So assuming I was able to resize that 66 GB extended so that it runs to the end of the disk, then Fedora would have created my partitions as logical partitions right after the Ubuntu partitions (e.g. sda7 and sda8)?

sammyg gravatar imagesammyg ( 2015-07-19 15:21:05 -0500 )edit

"I don't know if Fedora supports resizing extended partition". This is something I assumed that Fedora setup program would have done for me, i.e. if necessary, resize that extended partition for me so that it can put two logical partitions inside it, next to the Ubuntu logical partitions. But I guess this would only be possible if there was an option to explicitly tell the setup program that I want logical partitions.

sammyg gravatar imagesammyg ( 2015-07-19 15:24:06 -0500 )edit

"I don't know what happens if there is free space both inside an extended partition and outside it." This is the funny part. As a result of not allowing the user to tell it if the partition is to be logical or primary, Fedora kind of becomes indecisive... I guess... in such scenario. I don't know if I want to test this scenario. I just completed installation of three instances of Fedora, and yes, it did eventually install to a logical partition once it had used up all three primary partitions (see update above).

sammyg gravatar imagesammyg ( 2015-07-19 15:27:47 -0500 )edit

I think @heyadat hit the mark here - it doesn't like this particular layout. I've seen it with other layouts as well - it works consistently if the extended partition is the fourth partition and goes to the end of the disk - the most common config - but less common layouts like yours aren't as well supported. The component responsible for the installer's storage behavior is called blivet - you might consider reporting the issue / requesting an enhancement for this layout at

randomuser gravatar imagerandomuser ( 2015-07-19 15:35:05 -0500 )edit

@sammyg "I don't know" means that I've never wanted to do that, so don't conclude (from my sentence) that such things are not supported.

Yes, if your extended partition filled the whole disk, Fedora would create logical partitions for you.

So, yes, Fedora supports installing in logical partitions. However, apparently, the goal of its partitioning UI is to create a suitable partitioning for Fedora installation rather than being a flexible partitioning tool. Yes, I personally like to be in control too. But UI designers might disagree.

hedayat gravatar imagehedayat ( 2015-07-19 17:11:09 -0500 )edit

answered 2015-07-19 11:00:07 -0500

sideburns gravatar image

Yes, Fedora supports installing into logical partitions inside an extended partition. I know, because that's how the computer I'm using right now to reply to you is set up.

Anaconda doesn't, I'll grant, have the most intuitive interface, but in the partitioning section you can specify that a partition is extended, then create logical partitions inside it. As far as putting a primary partition after an extended one, I see no reason why you couldn't do that, but I also don't see why you'd bother. Once the partitions are created, it doesn't matter if they're primary or logical.

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Please excuse me if I am missing something obvious here. But where do you specify the partition type? I am willing to give it another try just to prove the concept. All I can see is the prompt that asks me for partition size and mounting point. Once a partition size and mounting point has been provided, there are additional options on the right side where label and device to use can be set. But I see no option for selecting partition type. Did you mean logical volume in LVM perhaps?

sammyg gravatar imagesammyg ( 2015-07-19 12:52:31 -0500 )edit

No, I don't mean anything in LVM. It's been years since I've had to install from scratch, so I can't give you a click-by-click tutorial. You may find it easier to start with a LiveUSB of GParted, do your partitioning and formatting there and then install Fedora, using the existing partitions.

sideburns gravatar imagesideburns ( 2015-07-19 12:57:09 -0500 )edit

"It's been years since I've had to install from scratch". That might explain that. Meanwhile, I have just started from scratch... once more. I have installed Fedora only this time, but three-folded, i.e. I installed it three times on separate partitions of the same disk. Yes, it eventually managed to install itself to a logical partition once it had chewed up all the primary partitions.

sammyg gravatar imagesammyg ( 2015-07-19 15:00:38 -0500 )edit

Next, I will try what you suggested and use some other tool to pre-partition the disk the way I want and try installing Fedora to a logical partition. I expect this to work, but we'll see. It's a shame that I have to go through all these steps and grab a third-party tool to pre-partition the disk for Fedora. This should work OOB with the Fedora tools and its own setup program.

sammyg gravatar imagesammyg ( 2015-07-19 15:12:23 -0500 )edit

It didn't have to come to this. But I did use Gparted from Ubuntu Live USB to grow the extended partition. So in a way, your answer was helpful too. I will remember to pre-partition my disks when installing multiple Linux distros. Thanks!

sammyg gravatar imagesammyg ( 2015-07-19 19:02:55 -0500 )edit

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Asked: 2015-07-19 09:47:25 -0500

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Last updated: Jul 19 '15