Hard drive device names

From MEPIS Documentation Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search

!!! Warning! The info contained in this article pertains to older versions of MEPIS !!!


About hard drives in Linux

Linux refers to your hard drive devices and partitions using a simple naming convention. These names are defined by the type of drive and where it is connected.

Parallel ATA (IDE)

Traditional Parallel ATA (PATA) drives, which were common in desktop systems until around 2006, are referred to in Simply Mepis versions prior to 7.0 as follows:

Physical location Device name
Primary master hda
Primary slave hdb
Secondary master hdc
Secondary slave hdd

Other drive technologies

Other types of drives (including USB, Serial ATA, and SCSI) are referred to as sda, sdb, sdc, etc, depending on the order in which they are detected. Thus, if you have two SATA drives and a USB drive in your system, they are likely to be sda, sdb, and sdc respectively.


Every drive needs a partition in order to store data. Even if the drive is formatted entirely to one file system, it will have one partition. Partitions on a drive are referred to as a number appended to the device name. So the first partition on drive hda is hda1, the second is hda2, etc.

Note that if you have an extended partition with logical drives, the extended partition uses a number, and then each logical drive uses a number. So if you have a drive divided into three primary partitions, and and extended partition with two logical drives, they would be:

hda1 first primary partition
hda2 second primary partition
hda3 third primary partition
hda4 extended partition
hda5 first logical partition
hda6 second logical partition
Personal tools