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While making partitions in a Unix environment, we often define partition type. When we make partitions using fdisk command, and when we use L to get the hex codes of available partition types, we get the following list:

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The image has been taken from here.

How do all these partition types differ? I am aware of type 82, 83 and 8e. But I am unaware of use of all other file types.

Many Thanks.

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  • Most are obscure or obsolete. Of the remainder most will only be used for backward compatibility with MS-Windows (like for removable media). Linux does not use many partition types, as it have other methods to detect file-system type. Other systems use the partition type to detect file-system type. Mar 27 '18 at 15:22
  • This list shows the different partition types of a MBR partition table. The GPT (GUID Partition Table) partitioning scheme has largely replaced MBR partitions on modern systems. GPT is used with UEFI firmware, but can also be used on BIOS systems. GPT stores partition types as GUIDs, 128-bit numbers that are presented as 32 hexadecimal digits. For convenience, partitioning tools contain a mapping between shorter 4-digit partition types and the on-disk GUIDs. These shorter codes bear some resemblance to the MBR codes, for instance 8300 is the short code for "Linux filesystem". Mar 27 '18 at 17:27
  • Also worth mentioning is the "Discoverable Partitions" initiative, which assigns ids to partitions based on the role of the partition, not the type of filesystem it contains. For example, the Linux root, /home, and /srv partitions have their own GUIDs and corresponding short ids. This enables the automatic discovery of partitions and can make manually editing /etc/fstab unnecessary. Mar 27 '18 at 17:38
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A partition type is an external indicator used to identify the format used inside the partition. Most of those recognised by fdisk only have historical significance (and not much of that in some cases). In many cases current systems don’t use the partition type to determine how they read a partition, they identify the partition’s contents by inspecting them directly. Older operating systems however would only look at a partition if the partition type meant something to them.

So partition types differ from each other in that they determine different formats for the contents of the partition (e.g. FAT12 v. HPFS), and different uses for the contents of the partition (e.g. Xenix root v. /usr).

The definitive resource to determine what a partition type corresponds to is Andries E. Brouwer’s list of partition identifiers.

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