System partition and boot partition
System partition and boot partition are computing terms for disk partitions of a hard disk drive that must exist and be properly configured for a system to operate correctly. There are two different definitions for these terms: One that developed from the simple firmware on PC's allowing Operating Systems to manage their own Boot Loader's location and one, common in servers, for Firmware that manages the location and selection of Boot Loader. The difference comes from the differing view that the partition is intended to hold a single Operating Systems "boot" code and that the "system" firmware controls the partition with the boot code.
In context of many PC operating systems, system partition and boot partition are defined as follows:
- The boot partition is a primary partition that contains the boot loader, a piece of software responsible for booting the OS. For example, in the standard Linux directory layout (Filesystem Hierarchy Standard), boot files (such as the kernel, initrd, and boot loader GRUB) are mounted at
- The system partition is the disk partition that contains the operating system folder, known as system root. By default, in Linux, operating system files are mounted at
/(the root directory).
In Linux, a single partition can be both a boot and a system partition if both
/boot/ and root directory are in the same partition.
In the context of Microsoft Windows, and Firmware with System Partition support such as EFI, the terms are defined as follows:
- The system partition is a partition that contains boot loaders, software responsible for booting one or more OS'.:970
- The boot partitions are the disk partition that contains the operating system folder, known as system root or
%systemroot%in Windows NT.
A single partition may be both a system and a boot partition. In case they are separate, however, the boot partition does not contain the boot software and the system partition does not have the system root.:971
Before Windows 7, the system and boot partitions were, by default, the same and were given the identifier "C:". After Windows 7, however, Windows Setup creates, by default, a separate system partition that is not given an identifier and therefore is hidden. The boot partition is still given "C:" as its identifier. This configuration is suitable for running BitLocker, which requires a separate, unencrypted system partition for booting.
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