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Partition types

The partition tables (the one in the MBR, and the ones for extended partitions) contain one byte per partition that identifies the type of that partition. This attempts to identify the operating system that uses the partition, or what it uses it for. The purpose is to make it possible to avoid having two operating systems accidentally using the same partition. However, in reality, operating systems do not really care about the partition type byte; e.g., Linux doesn't care at all what it is. Worse, some of them use it incorrectly; e.g., at least some versions of DR-DOS ignore the most significant bit of the byte, while others don't.

There is no standardization agency to specify what each byte value means, but some commonly accepted ones are included in the table in table 4.1. The same list is available in the Linux fdisk(8) program.

Table 4.1: Partition types (from the Linux fdisk(8) program).

Andrew Anderson
Thu Mar 7 22:36:29 EST 1996