I have a dual boot Windows - linux machine. I almost never work in Windows (XP) because I have more control in Linux. Here is a snapshot of my partitions as listed by df (DiskFree):
[andrew@andrew ~]$ df
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda8 404M 155M 250M 39% /
/dev/hdb1 38G 4.3G 33G 12% /data
/dev/hda13 41G 17G 24G 42% /home
/dev/hda5 4.9G 2.2G 2.8G 44% /mnt/win_d
/dev/hda11 1.6G 336K 1.6G 1% /opt
/dev/hda7 929M 9.7M 920M 2% /tmp
/dev/hda9 7.9G 3.3G 4.6G 43% /usr
/dev/hda10 1.1G 400K 1.1G 1% /usr/local
/dev/hda12 1.4G 277M 1.2G 20% /var
/dev/hda1 15G 7.9G 7.1G 53% /mnt/win_c
The first partition is the WinXP partition running ntfs file system, Windows likes to be the first cab off the rank, Linux will work anywhere. The 2nd Partition is seen as hda5 this is the Linux numbering system at work, hda1 is the first partition on the 1st IDE drive, hda5 is the 2nd because it is not a primary partition, (There are still 2 other primary partitions left), hda5 is a Fat32 partition for use by Linux and Win XP. Linux now can write effectively to an ntfs partition, so the next time I set up a dual boot I will just give windows 1 partition - in ntfs.
hda6 is not listed because it is a "swap" partition for use by Linux, it is not for storage.
hda7 is the /tmp partition which holds temporary files
hda8 is the root partition (/) which is where the kernel is located and the config files, system files etc. More about this later.
hda9 is the /usr partition, where all of the binaries are located for programs that come with the Distribution DVD (if you like the thousands of OE programs).
The next one hda10 is for programs which I may compile myself or download from the Internet it is called /usr/local, the next one hda11 is similar it is /opt for optional programs, some vendors like to install into /opt.
hda12 is the /var partition, which is where all of the variable stuff is located, print and fax spools, logs on all sorts of things from boot-up messages to the regular running of the machine. I interrupted a large backup once, due to ignorance, and a log process started which overran the /var directory which was in / at the time. It left me with 12Kb of free space, so the GUI could not run, but the computer still ran in console mode, so I was able to fix it and move on. As a consequence of that, I always give /var its own partition now.
hda13 is the /home partition which is user space in Linux, here I can set up as many users as I need.
Hdb1 is the only partition on the second IDE drive I call it /data, and it is where I store Installation isos of different flavours of Linux, and also the OpenOffice.org isos for burning to disk.
So why so many partitions? HERE IS THE BIG DEAL: when I want to upgrade my system, all I need to do is to format 2 partitions: / and /usr. By leaving all of the others intact all of my programs stay, exactly where they are in /usr/local and in /opt. My personal settings and data are unaffected in /home.
If I want to upgrade Windows it is not a trivial event, hours and hours are devoted to re-installing software, and rejigging the settings. None of that is necessary in Linux. I will not be moving away from XP any time soon, even $2 is too much to waste on Vista, I can get the latest and greatest in Linux for free. No vendor lockin, no viruses, no hackers, no MS Office. Just complete freedom.
10 good reasons for the smile on my face.