Take the 2-minute tour ×
Unix & Linux Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems.. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have been reading up more on UNIX and have brushed up on different filesystems and partitioning HDs. In the book it mentioned that filesystems are very much different than partitions and one shouldn't misconstrue one for the other. Can someone explain why mistaking one for the other is wrong and what would be a good explanation separating one from the other

share|improve this question
A partition is just a slice of disk, data storage. A filesystem is what allows you to have files and directories. This is intentionally simplistic; you can continue your reading with the details of various partition schemes as well as different filesystem types and respective features. –  bdowning Jun 25 '14 at 15:59
@ryekayo, A journaling filesystem is a filesystem that maintains a special file called a journal that is used to repair any inconsistencies that occur as the result of an improper shutdown of a computer. –  Ramesh Jun 25 '14 at 16:10
In addition to the other good answer and comments, note that a partition can exist without a file system. This is true in the trivial sense that you partition your disk (i.e., divide it into partitions) before you create file systems, so there’s a window of time where your partitions are just empty/random segments (or slices) of the disk. But it is true long-term; too; most OSs have a “swap disk”, which is (typically) a disk partition without a file system. Also, I believe that I have heard of database engines that use raw partitions for database storage. –  Scott Jun 25 '14 at 22:09
Conversely, a file system can exist without a partition. The obvious example of this is the “RAM disk”, known in some systems as “tmpfs”, where, as the name suggests, a file system is held in memory. Others include the /proc file system, the /devices file system, and the /sys file system, which don’t take up space at all, in the traditional sense, but are basically interfaces to the kernel that behave like file systems. –  Scott Jun 25 '14 at 22:09
Other Wikipedia references: File system and Virtual file system discuss general concepts; Comparison of file systems provides a long list of types of file systems. –  Scott Jun 25 '14 at 22:10

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Assume partition as just the rooms in the newly constructed house. It just doesn't have any layout or anything till now. All you have done is constructed new rooms in the house.

Now, you need to have the rooms designed for specific purposes (for example, the kitchen has to have more storage shelves, the living room has to have more space to accommodate TV and furniture etc), which is synonymous to the file systems created on the partitions.

share|improve this answer
You furnish a partition with a filesystem -- good analogy. As long as we understand that each partition normally only has one filesystem on it; there are no open concept kitchen/dining/living partitions ;) –  goldilocks Jun 25 '14 at 16:18
This is a good way to explain the differences! I would say that a partition is the room without drywall and is bare studs (2x4's), no wiring etc. –  slm Jun 25 '14 at 16:20
@goldilocks, that's true. –  Ramesh Jun 25 '14 at 16:20
Awesome explanation!! thanks :) –  ryekayo Jun 25 '14 at 16:20

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.