I received a 1TB hard drive that had a single 1TB partition. Because we do not need partitions on the drive (and I disliked using the path /dev/sdc1 instead of /dev/sdc), I went to fdisk, deleted the partition and created the filesystem on the device.

Now, on 2nd thought, does this even matter? Are there any technical reasons to do this or not to do this? Genuinely curious here.

I'm primarily focused on the *nix server side but if it differs between OS'es and applications, I'd be interested in knowing how.


You won't be able to set up a bootloader on that partition. Grub might install, but I don't think a bios would load it. It will also be harder to resize the partition if you change your mind, though you'd need LVM for real flexibility anyway.


This is kind of esoteric, but if the drive supports 4K block sizes, then skipping a partition table allows the filesystem to be automatically aligned, thereby improving the performance of the system.

Linux Weekly News had a discussion about partition alignment, especially in the context of SSDs. Given that this is a 1 TB drive you probably don't care. I found the article most enlightening and it's worth a read while you're thinking about the topic.


Linux won't care. Your BIOS may care: it may refuse to boot from a disk that doesn't have partition. (Some BIOSes refuse to boot from USB sticks with partitions, and some BIOSes refuse to boot from IDE/SATA/SCSI disks without partitions, and for all I know some fit in both categories.) PC-style hardware without PC-style partitions are very uncommon, so recovery tools and your fellow administrators may be confused.

I can't think of a good reason not to have the usual partition structure (not wasting 512 bytes is not a good reason). So I'd go for a partition.

  • The BIOS of the Intel DP965LT motherboard doesn't boot if one of the primary partitions is not flagged as bootable. – Cristian Ciupitu Nov 15 '10 at 3:33
  • Appreciate your advice. Despite the fact that I don't see myself using this drive as a boot device, I deleted the filesystem and created a partition. No gains in keeping it the way it was. And I was unaware of the BIOS caveat. – Belmin Fernandez Nov 15 '10 at 16:47

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