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See these 2 pages for a bit more information; they are a bit dated, but should answer some of your questions as far as I can tell: https://www.debian-administration.org/article/643/Migrating_a_live_system_from_ext3_to_ext4_filesystem https://ext4.wiki.kernel.org/index.php/Ext4_Howto#Converting_an_ext3_filesystem_to_ext4


1.- Originally, fdisk created partitions trying to make them aligned to cylinder boundaries, leaving the first cylinder on disk free, as it would be used for the MBR, patition table and other stuff. This way, the first partition usually started on block 63 (each block being 512 bytes). The fdisk from distributions like RedHat 6.x, still works this way, but ...

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