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I'm installing NixOs on a ThinkPad X220. Though I'm very comfortable in the shell, it's the first time I've set up my own system, and I'm running into some unknowns while trying to partition the hard drive with fdisk.

The laptop currently has Windows installed, and I intend to replace it entirely with NixOS. I ran fdisk to see the current partitions and to replace them with a fresh partitioning scheme.

After deleting the original partitions, I created a small (500MB) boot partition, and fdisk reported:

Partition #1 contains a ntfs signature.
Do you want to remove the signature? [Y]es/[N]o:

I'm not sure what this means, and googling "ntfs signature" didn't turn up anything illuminating, so I aborted the whole thing (for now).

Can anyone explain the significance of that warning? Will removing the ntfs signature have adverse affects down the road?

I also wonder if I should try to convert the drive from MBR to GPT, partly because a number of people seem to suggest using gdisk to manage partitions. I'm not sure whether this hardware supports GPT, and whether it boots via BIOS or UEFI.

For reference, a fuller log of my fdisk session:

[root@nixos:~]# fdisk /dev/sda

Welcome to fdisk ...

Command (m for help): p
Disk /dev/sda: 111.8 GiB, 120034123776 bytes, 234441648 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x65f5b331

Device     Boot     Start       End   Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/sda1  *         2048   1026047   1024000  500M  7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda2         1026048 199606271 198580224 94.7G  7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda3       199606272 234441646  34835375 16.6G  5 Extended
/dev/sda5       199608320 234440703  34832384 16.6G bc Acronis FAT32 LBA 

Command (m for help): d 
Partition number (1-3,5, default 5): 5
Partition 5 has been deleted.
Command (m for help): d
Partition number (1-3, default 3): 3
Partition 3 has been deleted.
Command (m for help): d
Partition number (1,2, default 2): 2
Partition 2 has been deleted.
Command (m for help): d
Selected partition 1
Partition 1 has been deleted.

Command (m for help): p
Disk /dev/sda: 111.8 GiB, 120034123776 bytes, 234441648 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x65f5b331

Command (m for help): n
Partition type
   p   primary (0 primary, 0 extended, 4 free)
   e   extended (container for logical partitions)
Select (default p): p
Partition number (1-4, default 1): 1
First sector (2048-234441647, default 2048): 
Last sector, +sectors or +size{K,M,G,T,P} (2048-234441647, default 234441647): +500M

Created a new partition 1 of type 'Linux' and of size 500 MiB.
Partition #1 contains a ntfs signature.

Do you want to remove the signature? [Y]es/[N]o:
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ok, the quick answer is:

Yes, you can remove the ntfs flag, which is a Windows thing, you won't need it when making your NixOs installation.

The second question, well some people prefer GPT over MBR because you can create unlimited partitions on the disk... I use MBR and have 3 primary partitions (3 Linux distros) and one extended partition which is my /home. The thing is that usually, windows must be on GPT partitions, thus if you want to have dual-boot or use UEFI, then you need GPT. On that case, you need to run gdisk to be able to set the GPT label.

  • Thanks, that clears things up quite a bit! Do you know how I can verify whether my hardware uses UEFI or BIOS? – ivan Oct 4 '17 at 3:05
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    Sure, enter to the BIOS when turning ON you computer (usually F10 or F2 or another combination that must be printed somewhere in the window) ther you can go to boot configuration, if you have something like legacy it's BIOS only, if you have UEFI or UEFI-only well, no need to explain :P – Christopher Díaz Riveros Oct 4 '17 at 3:08
  • GPT is not a "Microsoft invention". GPT was developed by Intel in the late 90s as part of their replacement for BIOS (which eventually became known as UEFI). Since MBR uses 512 byte sectors, it can't handle disks larger than 2TiB, so GPT is a necessity on larger disks. – bobpaul Apr 19 '18 at 16:30

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