In addition to filesystem choice, filesystem layout can affect performance. Two factors are important to consider when designing a filesystem layout:
*Seek times. When Linux accesses data from different partitions on a single disk, the disk head must move (or seek) from one area of the disk to another. This action takes time, so if your disk layout is such that data from the start and end of the disk must be frequently accessed, performance will be degraded compared to a layout in which frequently accessed data lie close together.
*Disk throughput. As noted earlier, disk throughput varies from one part of a disk to another. As a general rule, earlier parts of the disk (partitions in low-numbered cylinders) perform better than do latter parts of the disk. Thus, putting frequently accessed data at the start of the disk generally makes sense.
Typically, the best performance can be achieved by placing the most-used partitions, such as partitions for /usr, /home, and swap space, in the middle of the disk. Partitions that are seldom accessed, such as /boot or a partition holding an emergency Linux installation, are best placed in the peripheral regions of the disk.
Figure One illustrates a good single-disk configuration. The assumption is that most accesses involve /usr, /home,, or swap space, with progressively less frequent accesses for partitions further from these. Such a layout will minimize disk seek times and therefore maximize performance. Of course, different systems might have different access patterns, so Figure One might be an excellent configuration for one system but poor for another.
Roderick W. Smith is the author or co-author of over a dozen books, including Linux in a Windows World and Linux Power Tools. He can be reached at
Roderick W. Smith is the author or coauthor of more than a dozen books, including Linux in a Windows World and Linux Power Tools. He can be reached at email@example.com.