Storage Linux

How Dell Migrated From Suse Linux to Oracle Linux

Linux has robust systems and tooling to manage hardware devices, including storage drives. In this article we'll cover, at a high level, how Linux represents these devices and how raw storage is made into usable space on the server.

What is Block Storage?

Block storage is another name for what the Linux kernel calls a block device. A block device is a piece of hardware that can be used to store data, like a traditional spinning hard disk drive (HDD), solid state drive (SSD), flash memory stick, etc. It is called a block device because the kernel interfaces with the hardware by referencing fixed-size blocks, or chunks of space.

So basically, block storage is what you think of as regular disk storage on a computer. Once it is set up, it basically acts as an extension of the current filesystem tree, and you can write to or read information from the drive seamlessly.

What are Disk Partitions?

Disk partitions are a way of breaking up a storage drive into smaller usable units. A partition is a section of a storage drive that can be treated in much the same way as a drive itself.

Partitioning allows you to segment the available space and use each partition for a different purpose. This gives the user a lot of flexibility allowing them to potentially segment their installation for easy upgrading, multiple operating systems, swap space, or specialized filesystems.

While disks can be formatted and used without partitioning, some operating systems expect to find a partition table, even if there is only a single partition written to the disk. It is generally recommended to partition new drives for greater flexibility down the road.


When partitioning a disk, it is important to know what partitioning format will be used. This generally comes down to a choice between MBR (Master Boot Record) and GPT (GUID Partition Table).

MBR is the traditional partitioning system, which has been in use for over 30 years. Because of its age, it has some serious limitations. For instance, it cannot be used for disks over 2TB in size, and can only have a maximum of four primary partitions. Because of this, the fourth partition is typically set up as an "extended partition", in which "logical partitions" can be created. This allows you to subdivide the last partition to effectively allow additional partitions.

Hewlett Packard HP ProLiant ML10 v2 Tower Server System Intel Dual-core i3-4150 3.5 GHz 8 GB RAM 500GB SATA 7.2K
Personal Computer (Hewlett Packard)
  • Micro Tower 4U 1 x Intel Dual-core i3-4150 3.50 GHz
  • 8GB Memory 500 GB HDD
  • Matrox G200
  • 350W Power

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