Linux Max Partitions....63???

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TS Rookie
Hi all,

Need to clarify something. On another forum I'm encountering some people saying that with Linux it can only handle and or create and manage a maximum of 63 partitions? I am having trouble grasping this mystical '63' number I keep seeing. Can anyone here confirm this and explain it? And is there a workaround. I've always known and believed I could create as many logical partitions as I wanted, maxing at like 255 or something. Is this a Linux exclusive situation or what?

Users at other forum weren't too helpful with this matter, they basicly said try to push past 63 and see what happens. Well in a perfect world I could, but I have a deadline for this project at work and cannot get to 63 and then have my project flounder and die. I need work-arounds, confirmations etc, if anyone can. Many thanks ahead of time.

Someone mentioned creating individual kernel modules as a workaround to creating hundreds of partitions for my project. Can anyone shed light on this as well.

Thanks for reading.


TS Ambassador
the answer is likely to be in the size of the programming structure that holds the memory copy of the actual partition table.
remember, each physical HD has one partition table holding all the mappings for that HD.
this will result in a hierarchy of HD[x]->part[y]->filesys-info

such limits are ususally powers of 2, so expect 32,64,128, ...
If you have access to Lunix source, you can find the answer there.


TS Ambassador
Linux manpage 8 fdisk clearly states
IDE max 63, SCSI max 15,
see also /usr/src/linux/Documentation/devices.txt


TS Evangelist
Taken from Linux kernel documentation (not sure how up to date it is):

3 block	First MFM, RLL and IDE hard disk/CD-ROM interface
		  0 = /dev/hda		Master: whole disk (or CD-ROM)
		 64 = /dev/hdb		Slave: whole disk (or CD-ROM)

		For partitions, add to the whole disk device number:
		  0 = /dev/hd?		Whole disk
		  1 = /dev/hd?1		First partition
		  2 = /dev/hd?2		Second partition
		 63 = /dev/hd?63	63rd partition

		For Linux/i386, partitions 1-4 are the primary
		partitions, and 5 and above are logical partitions.
		Other versions of Linux use partitioning schemes
		appropriate to their respective architectures.
The documentation also includes only ten IDE hard disk / CD-ROM interfaces, so the devices would go from hda to hdt only (master & slave).


TS Rookie
I guess the big question is why do you need more than 63 partitions?

Can't you just use a few partitions and then different mount points?

Are you trying to have a computer with every type of possible filesystem or something?


TS Rookie
tdeg said:
I guess the big question is why do you need more than 63 partitions?

Can't you just use a few partitions and then different mount points?

Are you trying to have a computer with every type of possible filesystem or something?

I suppose I could have just a few partitions and then different mount points...but again, this is my first experience with Linux. And my reason for coming to these forums was to get advice on how to go about this task and learn from people who may already know how to do what I'm attempting to do. So again, my task is a SINGLE HDD with the possibility of installing/booting an individual set of software drivers for 150+ motherboards.
They cannot annoy and touch one another, my only thoughts were seperate partitions with seperate installations of an OS.

I don't care how its done, or what methods I have to use. For ease on our technicians I'm trying to accomplish this with windows but not having any luck. Linux seems to be offering me the solutions I need but straight answers are what I'm needing but aren't receiving. I'm attempting to research all suggestions that you guys mention, but for a noob its proving difficult at best to answer questions of why I don't try this, when its not an option I ever knew existed.

If you have a suggestion PLEASE by all means continue to post them.
Examples are nice! Here's something that might work, you may want to read about this and try this. etc. etc.

Thanks again for continued interest and help. I need it


TS Rookie
How about some virtual machine solution like VMWare or xen?

Or mounting files (loop device) as / for different incarnations of Linux at boot?


TS Ambassador
There are TWO factors for Linux hardware support:
1) the kernel it self (line <K> of the lilo.conf below)
2) and the hardware specific drivers in the subdirectories of /sys.
All the binary executables will support any Intel platform, eg: /bin/*

The lilo/grub loaders will present a choice of kernels to load and you
can create a list of possibilities.
It's your experiment so I will only suggest that if you create a technique
to overlay the entire contents of /sys and /boot for each configuration,
you might be able to bootstrap into the final environment of your choice.
a) boot a simple, constant system
b) overylay /sys and /boot with X
c) reboot into X

I would think you'd need an environment like
and you would need to cable/recable the HD between systems, making
an external HD (maybe SCSI) a natural choice.

My lilo.conf
boot = /dev/hda2
delay = 200
timeout = 400
vga = normal
image = /boot/vmlinuz-2.2.5-15 <K>
label = linux6.0
root = /dev/hda2
other = /dev/hda1
label = Win98
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