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If all four primary partitions exist on an IDE drive, they are numbered as follows:

  • /dev/hda1
  • /dev/hda2
  • /dev/hda3
  • /dev/hda4

We have also the partitions on a disk with one primary partition and the sole extended partition might be numbered as follows:

  • /dev/hda1 (primary)
  • /dev/hda2 (extended)

This naming strategy leads to confusion :
How it is named : /dev/hda2 in both of cases :

  • Primary partition
  • Extended Partition

Another way to express the issue : How to distinct if it is primary or extended partition

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

From terminal, you type parted /dev/hda then type print as result:

Number  Start   End    Size   Type     File system  Flags     
 1      32.3kB  107MB  107MB  primary  ext3         boot, raid
 2      107MB   250GB  250GB  primary               raid 
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Check the output of fdisk -l /dev/hda or a similar tool (sfdisk -l /dev/hda, parted -l, …).

You can't tell whether a partition is primary or extended from its number. In the classic PC partition scheme, each partition numbered 1, 2, 3 or 4 can be either primary or extended. (It's possible but not recommended to have multiple extended partitions; Linux itself doesn't mind but some management tools do.)

There's an almost-guaranteed way to check without root access: you can look up the size of each partition in /proc/partitions. The size of extended partitions is always reported as a single block. For instance, in the example below, sda4 is an extended partition.

major minor  #blocks  name
   8        1     489951 sda1
   8        4          1 sda4
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You can always try sudo cfdisk /dev/hda to display a table with all partitions. It also shows whether it is a primary or extended partition.

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cfdisk Does not existed on red-hat . There is sfdisk – Abdennour TOUMI Jun 9 '14 at 11:00
Can't you download it from repositories? – makos Jun 9 '14 at 11:04

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