at the moment i understand that linux has a partition numbering system which is:

  • partitions 1-4 are primary

  • partitions 5 and above and logical

but what about extended partitions?

my curret understanding is that, extended partitions are basically primary partitions but in a container form which hold logical partitions, so they are counted as primary partitions i.e 1-4

  • yup, exactly... – frostschutz Apr 29 '19 at 18:09
  • Yes but just to keep people confused the extended partition isn't assigned a /dev file/device – ivanivan Apr 29 '19 at 19:56

Primary and logical/extended partitions are specific to the DOS MBR partition table scheme. And for that, in common usage, "logical" and "extended" partition very likely mean the same thing. They're a workaround for the DOS MBR format only handling 4 partitions: make a partition (the "extended partition") that holds multiple partitions (the "logical partitions").

The numbering is specific to DOS MBR. E.g., with GUID Partition Table (GPT), you only have one type of partition, numbered 1–128 and you can easily have gaps (e.g., I have a system with /dev/sda1–/dev/sda5 and /dev/sda128).


In almost all contexts when dealing with traditional MBR style partition tables, 'extended' partitions and 'logical' partitions are the same thing unless you're being really picky about terminology (strictly speaking, the extended partition is the primary partition that covers the area used for the logical partitions). The first name is in my experience generally the preferred one to avoid confusion with logical volumes, which are a drastically different thing that can be used to solve the same problem that the old extended partition scheme can.

This only applies however to disks actually partitioned using an MBR partitioning scheme. For pretty much any other scheme (GPT, BSD, Sun, etc), the numbering is just a direct mapping of partition slots in the partition table to partition numbers (so if you use GPT for partitioning, and create your only partition as entry 128 in the table, that will be reflected in the partition numbering).

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