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How To Resize ext3 Partitions Without Losing Data

How To Resize ext3 Partitions Without Losing Data

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme

This article is about resizing ext3 partitions without losing data. It shows how to shrink and enlarge existing ext3 partitions and how to merge two ext3 partitions. This can be quite useful if you do not use LVM and you realize that your existing partitioning does not meet your actual needs anymore.

There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

 

1 Preliminary Note

(I run all the commands in this tutorial as the root user, so make sure you're logged in as root. If you are on a Ubuntu system, you can become root like this:

sudo su

)

I have tested this on a Ubuntu Edgy Eft desktop system that has all files in one large partition (around 10 GB, device /dev/sda1). The partitioning looks like this:

df -h

Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1             9.5G  4.1G  4.9G  46% /
varrun                 94M  132K   94M   1% /var/run
varlock                94M     0   94M   0% /var/lock
udev                   10M   52K   10M   1% /dev
devshm                 94M     0   94M   0% /dev/shm
lrm                    94M   18M   77M  19% /lib/modules/2.6.17-10-generic/volatile

The partition that is to be resized must be unmounted when we do the resizing; obviously this is not possible if this is the partition that holds all important system files like in this example. Therefore we download a Live Linux-CD such as Knoppix from which we boot later on (if you have physical access to the system). If it is a remote system that you don't have physical access to, you need a rescue system on that system (a lot of hosting companies offer dedicated servers with rescue systems nowadays) that you can boot into (instead of Knoppix), and this rescue system must have the following tools: fdisk, umount, fsck, tune2fs, e2fsck, resize2fs.

If the partition that you want to resize doesn't hold any system files (such as /home partitions, partitions for backups, etc.), you don't need a Knoppix Live-CD or a rescue system, because all steps can be run from the original system.

If you want to resize partitions on production systems, please back up your data before, because it is possible you lose all your data if you don't calculate the size of your new partition correctly (especially when shrinking a partition)! You have been warned! Tutorials about backups can be found here: http://www.howtoforge.com/taxonomy_menu/1/34

I'm going to resize /dev/sda1 in this tutorial. If your partition is named differently, please replace /dev/sda1 with your own device (e.g. /dev/hda5, /dev/sdb3, etc.).

 

2 Shrinking An ext3 Partition

This chapter is about shrinking an ext3 partition. I want to shrink /dev/sda1 in this example. First we gather some details on our original system:

df

Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1              9859036   4234908   5123304  46% /
varrun                   95480       132     95348   1% /var/run
varlock                  95480         0     95480   0% /var/lock
udev                     10240        52     10188   1% /dev
devshm                   95480         0     95480   0% /dev/shm
lrm                      95480     17580     77900  19% /lib/modules/2.6.17-10-generic/volatile

df -B 4k

Filesystem           4K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1              2464759   1058727   1280826  46% /
varrun                   23870        33     23837   1% /var/run
varlock                  23870         0     23870   0% /var/lock
udev                      2560        13      2547   1% /dev
devshm                   23870         0     23870   0% /dev/shm
lrm                      23870      4395     19475  19% /lib/modules/2.6.17-10-generic/volatile

df -h

Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1             9.5G  4.1G  4.9G  46% /
varrun                 94M  132K   94M   1% /var/run
varlock                94M     0   94M   0% /var/lock
udev                   10M   52K   10M   1% /dev
devshm                 94M     0   94M   0% /dev/shm
lrm                    94M   18M   77M  19% /lib/modules/2.6.17-10-generic/volatile

fdisk -l


Disk /dev/sda: 10.7 GB, 10737418240 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 1305 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *           1        1247    10016496   83  Linux
/dev/sda2            1248        1305      465885    5  Extended
/dev/sda5            1248        1305      465853+  82  Linux swap / Solaris

fdisk -s /dev/sda1

10016496

Then we shut down the system and boot into our Knoppix Live-CD (or your rescue system) (if the partition you want to resize doesn't hold any system files, you can do everything from the original system; the steps are the same, just omit booting into Knoppix/your rescue system).

shutdown -r now

After Knoppix has booted, open a terminal and become root by running

su

/dev/sda1 should be unmounted by default, but you can run

umount /dev/sda1

to go sure.

Then run

fsck -n /dev/sda1

The output looks like this:

fsck 1.38 (30-Jun-2005)
e2fsck 1.38 (30-Jun-2005)
/dev/sda1: clean, 159037/1254176 files, 1095299/2504124 blocks

Next we remove the journal from /dev/sda1, thus turning it into an ext2 partition:

tune2fs -O ^has_journal /dev/sda1

The output looks like this:

tune2fs 1.38 (30-Jun-2005)

Then run

e2fsck -f /dev/sda1

e2fsck 1.38 (30-Jun-2005)
Pass 1: Checking inodes, blocks, and sizes
Pass 2: Checking directory structure
Pass 3: Checking directory connectivity
Pass 4: Checking reference counts
Pass 5: Checking group summary information
/dev/sda1: 164178/1254176 files (0.6% non-contiguous), 1051617/2504124 blocks

Now we resize our file system with resize2fs. resize2fs can resize ext2 file systems, but not ext3 file systems, that's why we had to turn /dev/sda1 to ext2. Currently, 4.1GB are used on /dev/sda1 (see the df -h output above), So it's safe to shrink it from 10GB to about 6GB (if you make it smaller than 4.1GB, you will lose data!). Therefore we run

resize2fs /dev/sda1 6000M

The output is as follows:

resize2fs 1.38 (30-Jun-2005)
Resizing the filesystem on /dev/sda1 to 1536000 (4k) blocks.
The filesystem on /dev/sda1 is now 1536000 blocks long.

Please take note of the amount of blocks (1536000) and their size (4k). We need that soon.

Now we delete our /dev/sda1 partition (don't be afraid, no data will be lost) and create a new, smaller one (but still big enough to hold our resized file system!). We can do this with fdisk:

fdisk /dev/sda

(Yes, it's /dev/sda, not /dev/sda1.)

The number of cylinders for this disk is set to 1305.
There is nothing wrong with that, but this is larger than 1024,
and could in certain setups cause problems with:
1) software that runs at boot time (e.g., old versions of LILO)
2) booting and partitioning software from other OSs
   (e.g., DOS FDISK, OS/2 FDISK)

Type m to get a list of all commands:

Command (m for help): m
Command action
   a   toggle a bootable flag
   b   edit bsd disklabel
   c   toggle the dos compatibility flag
   d   delete a partition
   l   list known partition types
   m   print this menu
   n   add a new partition
   o   create a new empty DOS partition table
   p   print the partition table
   q   quit without saving changes
   s   create a new empty Sun disklabel
   t   change a partition's system id
   u   change display/entry units
   v   verify the partition table
   w   write table to disk and exit
   x   extra functionality (experts only)

Now we delete partition no. 1 (/dev/sda1):

Command (m for help): d
Partition number (1-5): 1

Next we create a new /dev/sda1 partition. It was a primary partition before, so we choose p again, and again it is our partition no. 1:

Command (m for help): n
Command action
   l   logical (5 or over)
   p   primary partition (1-4)
p
Partition number (1-4): 1

Now comes the crucial part - we are asked about the size of the new partition. The first cylinder is no problem, it is the one from the fdisk -l output at the beginning of this chapter (1).

First cylinder (1-1305, default 1): 1

But we don't have a value for the last cylinder of our new partition. Fortunately, we can specify the size in kilobytes (K), so we calculate the size like this:

We multiply the amount of blocks from the resize2fs output (1536000) by the size of a block (4k), and to go sure the partition is big enough, we add 3 to 5% to it (3% was enough for me, but if you want to go sure take 5%):

1536000 * 4k * 1.03 = 6328320k

So we prepend that value with a + sign and replace the small k with a capital one (K) and enter it:

Last cylinder or +size or +sizeM or +sizeK (1-1247, default 1247): +6328320K

Our original /dev/sda1 had the bootable flag (see the fdisk -l output from the beginning of this chapter), so we must add it to our new /dev/sda1 again:

Command (m for help): a
Partition number (1-5): 1

Now let's write our new partition table and exit fdisk:

Command (m for help): w
The partition table has been altered!

Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.

WARNING: Re-reading the partition table failed with error 16: Device or resource busy.
The kernel still uses the old table.
The new table will be used at the next reboot.
Syncing disks.

Now we reboot the system, and again we boot into our Knoppix system (rescue system; original system if resized partition doesn't hold system files):

shutdown -r now

Become root again (on Knoppix run

su

)

and then run this:

fsck -n /dev/sda1

The output should look like this:

fsck 1.38 (30-Jun-2005)
e2fsck 1.38 (30-Jun-2005)
/dev/sda1: clean, 159036/765536 files, 1047239/1536000 blocks

Then we create the journal on our new /dev/sda1, thus turning it into an ext3 partition again:

tune2fs -j /dev/sda1

tune2fs 1.38 (30-Jun-2005)
Creating journal inode: done
This filesystem will be automatically checked every 30 mounts or
0 days, whichever comes first. Use tune2fs -c or -i to override.

Now we are done. Shut down the system and boot into the original system:

shutdown -r now

If everything goes well, the original system will boot up, and no data has been lost. Now we can gather some details about our new partitioning and compare them with the information we collected at the beginning of this chapter:

df

Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1              6047868   4224140   1639408  73% /
varrun                   95480       132     95348   1% /var/run
varlock                  95480         0     95480   0% /var/lock
udev                     10240        52     10188   1% /dev
devshm                   95480         0     95480   0% /dev/shm
lrm                      95480     17580     77900  19% /lib/modules/2.6.17-10-generic/volatile

df -B 4k

Filesystem           4K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1              1511967   1056035    409852  73% /
varrun                   23870        33     23837   1% /var/run
varlock                  23870         0     23870   0% /var/lock
udev                      2560        13      2547   1% /dev
devshm                   23870         0     23870   0% /dev/shm
lrm                      23870      4395     19475  19% /lib/modules/2.6.17-10-generic/volatile

df -h

Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1             5.8G  4.1G  1.6G  73% /
varrun                 94M  132K   94M   1% /var/run
varlock                94M     0   94M   0% /var/lock
udev                   10M   52K   10M   1% /dev
devshm                 94M     0   94M   0% /dev/shm
lrm                    94M   18M   77M  19% /lib/modules/2.6.17-10-generic/volatile

fdisk -l


Disk /dev/sda: 10.7 GB, 10737418240 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 1305 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *           1         789     6337611   83  Linux
/dev/sda2            1248        1305      465885    5  Extended
/dev/sda5            1248        1305      465853+  82  Linux swap / Solaris

fdisk -s /dev/sda1

6337611

How To Resize ext3 Partitions Without Losing Data