Discoverable Partitions Specification

The Discoverable Partitions Specification (DPS) #

TL;DR: Let’s automatically discover, mount and enable the root partition, /home/, /srv/, /var/ and /var/tmp/ and the swap partitions based on GUID Partition Tables (GPT)!

This specification describes the use of GUID Partition Table (GPT) UUIDs to enable automatic discovery of partitions and their intended mountpoints. Traditionally Linux has made little use of partition types, mostly just defining one UUID for file system/data partitions and another one for swap partitions. With this specification, we introduce additional partition types for specific uses. This has many benefits:

  • OS installers can automatically discover and make sense of partitions of existing Linux installations.
  • The OS can discover and mount the necessary file systems with a non-existent or incomplete /etc/fstab file and without the root= kernel command line option.
  • Container managers (such as nspawn and libvirt-lxc) can introspect and set up file systems contained in GPT disk images automatically and mount them to the right places, thus allowing booting the same, identical images on bare metal and in Linux containers. This enables true, natural portability of disk images between physical machines and Linux containers.
  • As a help to administrators and users partition manager tools can show more descriptive information about partitions tables.

Note that the OS side of this specification is currently implemented in systemd 211 and newer in the systemd-gpt-auto-generator(8) generator tool. Note that automatic discovery of the root only works if the boot loader communicates this information to the OS, by implementing the Boot Loader Interface.

Defined Partition Type UUIDs #

NamePartition Type UUIDAllowed File SystemsExplanation
Root Partition (Alpha)6523f8ae-3eb1-4e2a-a05a-18b695ae656f SD_GPT_ROOT_ALPHAAny native, optionally in LUKSOn systems with matching architecture, the first partition with this type UUID on the disk containing the active EFI ESP is automatically mounted to the root directory /. If the partition is encrypted with LUKS or has dm-verity integrity data (see below), the device mapper file will be named /dev/mapper/root.
Root Partition (ARC)d27f46ed-2919-4cb8-bd25-9531f3c16534 SD_GPT_ROOT_ARCdittoditto
Root Partition (32-bit ARM)69dad710-2ce4-4e3c-b16c-21a1d49abed3 SD_GPT_ROOT_ARMdittoditto
Root Partition (64-bit ARM/AArch64)b921b045-1df0-41c3-af44-4c6f280d3fae SD_GPT_ROOT_ARM64dittoditto
Root Partition (Itanium/IA-64)993d8d3d-f80e-4225-855a-9daf8ed7ea97 SD_GPT_ROOT_IA64dittoditto
Root Partition (LoongArch 64-bit)77055800-792c-4f94-b39a-98c91b762bb6 SD_GPT_ROOT_LOONGARCH64dittoditto
Root Partition (32-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mipsel))37c58c8a-d913-4156-a25f-48b1b64e07f0 SD_GPT_ROOT_MIPS_LEdittoditto
Root Partition (64-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mips64el))700bda43-7a34-4507-b179-eeb93d7a7ca3 SD_GPT_ROOT_MIPS64_LEdittoditto
Root Partition (HPPA/PARISC)1aacdb3b-5444-4138-bd9e-e5c2239b2346 SD_GPT_ROOT_PARISCdittoditto
Root Partition (32-bit PowerPC)1de3f1ef-fa98-47b5-8dcd-4a860a654d78 SD_GPT_ROOT_PPCdittoditto
Root Partition (64-bit PowerPC BigEndian)912ade1d-a839-4913-8964-a10eee08fbd2 SD_GPT_ROOT_PPC64dittoditto
Root Partition (64-bit PowerPC LittleEndian)c31c45e6-3f39-412e-80fb-4809c4980599 SD_GPT_ROOT_PPC64_LEdittoditto
Root Partition (RISC-V 32-bit)60d5a7fe-8e7d-435c-b714-3dd8162144e1 SD_GPT_ROOT_RISCV32dittoditto
Root Partition (RISC-V 64-bit)72ec70a6-cf74-40e6-bd49-4bda08e8f224 SD_GPT_ROOT_RISCV64dittoditto
Root Partition (s390)08a7acea-624c-4a20-91e8-6e0fa67d23f9 SD_GPT_ROOT_S390dittoditto
Root Partition (s390x)5eead9a9-fe09-4a1e-a1d7-520d00531306 SD_GPT_ROOT_S390Xdittoditto
Root Partition (TILE-Gx)c50cdd70-3862-4cc3-90e1-809a8c93ee2c SD_GPT_ROOT_TILEGXdittoditto
Root Partition (x86)44479540-f297-41b2-9af7-d131d5f0458a SD_GPT_ROOT_X86dittoditto
Root Partition (amd64/x86_64)4f68bce3-e8cd-4db1-96e7-fbcaf984b709 SD_GPT_ROOT_X86_64dittoditto
/usr/ Partition (Alpha)e18cf08c-33ec-4c0d-8246-c6c6fb3da024 SD_GPT_USR_ALPHAAny native, optionally in LUKSSimilar semantics to root partition, but just the /usr/ partition.
/usr/ Partition (ARC)7978a683-6316-4922-bbee-38bff5a2fecc SD_GPT_USR_ARCdittoditto
/usr/ Partition (32-bit ARM)7d0359a3-02b3-4f0a-865c-654403e70625 SD_GPT_USR_ARMdittoditto
/usr/ Partition (64-bit ARM/AArch64)b0e01050-ee5f-4390-949a-9101b17104e9 SD_GPT_USR_ARM64dittoditto
/usr/ Partition (Itanium/IA-64)4301d2a6-4e3b-4b2a-bb94-9e0b2c4225ea SD_GPT_USR_IA64dittoditto
/usr/ Partition (LoongArch 64-bit)e611c702-575c-4cbe-9a46-434fa0bf7e3f SD_GPT_USR_LOONGARCH64dittoditto
/usr/ Partition (32-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mipsel))0f4868e9-9952-4706-979f-3ed3a473e947 SD_GPT_USR_MIPS_LEdittoditto
/usr/ Partition (64-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mips64el))c97c1f32-ba06-40b4-9f22-236061b08aa8 SD_GPT_USR_MIPS64_LEdittoditto
/usr/ Partition (HPPA/PARISC)dc4a4480-6917-4262-a4ec-db9384949f25 SD_GPT_USR_PARISCdittoditto
/usr/ Partition (32-bit PowerPC)7d14fec5-cc71-415d-9d6c-06bf0b3c3eaf SD_GPT_USR_PPCdittoditto
/usr/ Partition (64-bit PowerPC BigEndian)2c9739e2-f068-46b3-9fd0-01c5a9afbcca SD_GPT_USR_PPC64dittoditto
/usr/ Partition (64-bit PowerPC LittleEndian)15bb03af-77e7-4d4a-b12b-c0d084f7491c SD_GPT_USR_PPC64_LEdittoditto
/usr/ Partition (RISC-V 32-bit)b933fb22-5c3f-4f91-af90-e2bb0fa50702 SD_GPT_USR_RISCV32dittoditto
/usr/ Partition (RISC-V 64-bit)beaec34b-8442-439b-a40b-984381ed097d SD_GPT_USR_RISCV64dittoditto
/usr/ Partition (s390)cd0f869b-d0fb-4ca0-b141-9ea87cc78d66 SD_GPT_USR_S390dittoditto
/usr/ Partition (s390x)8a4f5770-50aa-4ed3-874a-99b710db6fea SD_GPT_USR_S390Xdittoditto
/usr/ Partition (TILE-Gx)55497029-c7c1-44cc-aa39-815ed1558630 SD_GPT_USR_TILEGXdittoditto
/usr/ Partition (x86)75250d76-8cc6-458e-bd66-bd47cc81a812 SD_GPT_USR_X86dittoditto
/usr/ Partition (amd64/x86_64)8484680c-9521-48c6-9c11-b0720656f69e SD_GPT_USR_X86_64dittoditto
Root Verity Partition (Alpha)fc56d9e9-e6e5-4c06-be32-e74407ce09a5 SD_GPT_ROOT_ALPHA_VERITYA dm-verity superblock followed by hash dataContains dm-verity integrity hash data for the matching root partition. If this feature is used the partition UUID of the root partition should be the first 128 bits of the root hash of the dm-verity hash data, and the partition UUID of this dm-verity partition should be the final 128 bits of it, so that the root partition and its Verity partition can be discovered easily, simply by specifying the root hash.
Root Verity Partition (ARC)24b2d975-0f97-4521-afa1-cd531e421b8d SD_GPT_ROOT_ARC_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (32-bit ARM)7386cdf2-203c-47a9-a498-f2ecce45a2d6 SD_GPT_ROOT_ARM_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (64-bit ARM/AArch64)df3300ce-d69f-4c92-978c-9bfb0f38d820 SD_GPT_ROOT_ARM64_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (Itanium/IA-64)86ed10d5-b607-45bb-8957-d350f23d0571 SD_GPT_ROOT_IA64_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (LoongArch 64-bit)f3393b22-e9af-4613-a948-9d3bfbd0c535 SD_GPT_ROOT_LOONGARCH64_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (32-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mipsel))d7d150d2-2a04-4a33-8f12-16651205ff7b SD_GPT_ROOT_MIPS_LE_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (64-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mips64el))16b417f8-3e06-4f57-8dd2-9b5232f41aa6 SD_GPT_ROOT_MIPS64_LE_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (HPPA/PARISC)d212a430-fbc5-49f9-a983-a7feef2b8d0e SD_GPT_ROOT_PARISC_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (64-bit PowerPC LittleEndian)906bd944-4589-4aae-a4e4-dd983917446a SD_GPT_ROOT_PPC64_LE_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (64-bit PowerPC BigEndian)9225a9a3-3c19-4d89-b4f6-eeff88f17631 SD_GPT_ROOT_PPC64_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (32-bit PowerPC)98cfe649-1588-46dc-b2f0-add147424925 SD_GPT_ROOT_PPC_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (RISC-V 32-bit)ae0253be-1167-4007-ac68-43926c14c5de SD_GPT_ROOT_RISCV32_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (RISC-V 64-bit)b6ed5582-440b-4209-b8da-5ff7c419ea3d SD_GPT_ROOT_RISCV64_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (s390)7ac63b47-b25c-463b-8df8-b4a94e6c90e1 SD_GPT_ROOT_S390_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (s390x)b325bfbe-c7be-4ab8-8357-139e652d2f6b SD_GPT_ROOT_S390X_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (TILE-Gx)966061ec-28e4-4b2e-b4a5-1f0a825a1d84 SD_GPT_ROOT_TILEGX_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (amd64/x86_64)2c7357ed-ebd2-46d9-aec1-23d437ec2bf5 SD_GPT_ROOT_X86_64_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Partition (x86)d13c5d3b-b5d1-422a-b29f-9454fdc89d76 SD_GPT_ROOT_X86_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (Alpha)8cce0d25-c0d0-4a44-bd87-46331bf1df67 SD_GPT_USR_ALPHA_VERITYA dm-verity superblock followed by hash dataSimilar semantics to root Verity partition, but just for the /usr/ partition.
/usr/ Verity Partition (ARC)fca0598c-d880-4591-8c16-4eda05c7347c SD_GPT_USR_ARC_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (32-bit ARM)c215d751-7bcd-4649-be90-6627490a4c05 SD_GPT_USR_ARM_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (64-bit ARM/AArch64)6e11a4e7-fbca-4ded-b9e9-e1a512bb664e SD_GPT_USR_ARM64_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (Itanium/IA-64)6a491e03-3be7-4545-8e38-83320e0ea880 SD_GPT_USR_IA64_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (LoongArch 64-bit)f46b2c26-59ae-48f0-9106-c50ed47f673d SD_GPT_USR_LOONGARCH64_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (32-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mipsel))46b98d8d-b55c-4e8f-aab3-37fca7f80752 SD_GPT_USR_MIPS_LE_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (64-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mips64el))3c3d61fe-b5f3-414d-bb71-8739a694a4ef SD_GPT_USR_MIPS64_LE_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (HPPA/PARISC)5843d618-ec37-48d7-9f12-cea8e08768b2 SD_GPT_USR_PARISC_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (64-bit PowerPC LittleEndian)ee2b9983-21e8-4153-86d9-b6901a54d1ce SD_GPT_USR_PPC64_LE_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (64-bit PowerPC BigEndian)bdb528a5-a259-475f-a87d-da53fa736a07 SD_GPT_USR_PPC64_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (32-bit PowerPC)df765d00-270e-49e5-bc75-f47bb2118b09 SD_GPT_USR_PPC_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (RISC-V 32-bit)cb1ee4e3-8cd0-4136-a0a4-aa61a32e8730 SD_GPT_USR_RISCV32_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (RISC-V 64-bit)8f1056be-9b05-47c4-81d6-be53128e5b54 SD_GPT_USR_RISCV64_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (s390)b663c618-e7bc-4d6d-90aa-11b756bb1797 SD_GPT_USR_S390_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (s390x)31741cc4-1a2a-4111-a581-e00b447d2d06 SD_GPT_USR_S390X_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (TILE-Gx)2fb4bf56-07fa-42da-8132-6b139f2026ae SD_GPT_USR_TILEGX_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (amd64/x86_64)77ff5f63-e7b6-4633-acf4-1565b864c0e6 SD_GPT_USR_X86_64_VERITYdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Partition (x86)8f461b0d-14ee-4e81-9aa9-049b6fb97abd SD_GPT_USR_X86_VERITYdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (Alpha)d46495b7-a053-414f-80f7-700c99921ef8 SD_GPT_ROOT_ALPHA_VERITY_SIGA serialized JSON object, see belowContains a root hash and a PKCS#7 signature for it, permitting signed dm-verity GPT images.
Root Verity Signature Partition (ARC)143a70ba-cbd3-4f06-919f-6c05683a78bc SD_GPT_ROOT_ARC_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (32-bit ARM)42b0455f-eb11-491d-98d3-56145ba9d037 SD_GPT_ROOT_ARM_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (64-bit ARM/AArch64)6db69de6-29f4-4758-a7a5-962190f00ce3 SD_GPT_ROOT_ARM64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (Itanium/IA-64)e98b36ee-32ba-4882-9b12-0ce14655f46a SD_GPT_ROOT_IA64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (LoongArch 64-bit)5afb67eb-ecc8-4f85-ae8e-ac1e7c50e7d0 SD_GPT_ROOT_LOONGARCH64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (32-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mipsel))c919cc1f-4456-4eff-918c-f75e94525ca5 SD_GPT_ROOT_MIPS_LE_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (64-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mips64el))904e58ef-5c65-4a31-9c57-6af5fc7c5de7 SD_GPT_ROOT_MIPS64_LE_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (HPPA/PARISC)15de6170-65d3-431c-916e-b0dcd8393f25 SD_GPT_ROOT_PARISC_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (64-bit PowerPC LittleEndian)d4a236e7-e873-4c07-bf1d-bf6cf7f1c3c6 SD_GPT_ROOT_PPC64_LE_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (64-bit PowerPC BigEndian)f5e2c20c-45b2-4ffa-bce9-2a60737e1aaf SD_GPT_ROOT_PPC64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (32-bit PowerPC)1b31b5aa-add9-463a-b2ed-bd467fc857e7 SD_GPT_ROOT_PPC_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (RISC-V 32-bit)3a112a75-8729-4380-b4cf-764d79934448 SD_GPT_ROOT_RISCV32_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (RISC-V 64-bit)efe0f087-ea8d-4469-821a-4c2a96a8386a SD_GPT_ROOT_RISCV64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (s390)3482388e-4254-435a-a241-766a065f9960 SD_GPT_ROOT_S390_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (s390x)c80187a5-73a3-491a-901a-017c3fa953e9 SD_GPT_ROOT_S390X_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (TILE-Gx)b3671439-97b0-4a53-90f7-2d5a8f3ad47b SD_GPT_ROOT_TILEGX_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (amd64/x86_64)41092b05-9fc8-4523-994f-2def0408b176 SD_GPT_ROOT_X86_64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
Root Verity Signature Partition (x86)5996fc05-109c-48de-808b-23fa0830b676 SD_GPT_ROOT_X86_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (Alpha)5c6e1c76-076a-457a-a0fe-f3b4cd21ce6e SD_GPT_USR_ALPHA_VERITY_SIGA serialized JSON object, see belowSimilar semantics to root Verity signature partition, but just for the /usr/ partition.
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (ARC)94f9a9a1-9971-427a-a400-50cb297f0f35 SD_GPT_USR_ARC_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (32-bit ARM)d7ff812f-37d1-4902-a810-d76ba57b975a SD_GPT_USR_ARM_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (64-bit ARM/AArch64)c23ce4ff-44bd-4b00-b2d4-b41b3419e02a SD_GPT_USR_ARM64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (Itanium/IA-64)8de58bc2-2a43-460d-b14e-a76e4a17b47f SD_GPT_USR_IA64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (LoongArch 64-bit)b024f315-d330-444c-8461-44bbde524e99 SD_GPT_USR_LOONGARCH64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (32-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mipsel))3e23ca0b-a4bc-4b4e-8087-5ab6a26aa8a9 SD_GPT_USR_MIPS_LE_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (64-bit MIPS LittleEndian (mips64el))f2c2c7ee-adcc-4351-b5c6-ee9816b66e16 SD_GPT_USR_MIPS64_LE_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (HPPA/PARISC)450dd7d1-3224-45ec-9cf2-a43a346d71ee SD_GPT_USR_PARISC_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (64-bit PowerPC LittleEndian)c8bfbd1e-268e-4521-8bba-bf314c399557 SD_GPT_USR_PPC64_LE_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (64-bit PowerPC BigEndian)0b888863-d7f8-4d9e-9766-239fce4d58af SD_GPT_USR_PPC64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (32-bit PowerPC)7007891d-d371-4a80-86a4-5cb875b9302e SD_GPT_USR_PPC_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (RISC-V 32-bit)c3836a13-3137-45ba-b583-b16c50fe5eb4 SD_GPT_USR_RISCV32_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (RISC-V 64-bit)d2f9000a-7a18-453f-b5cd-4d32f77a7b32 SD_GPT_USR_RISCV64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (s390)17440e4f-a8d0-467f-a46e-3912ae6ef2c5 SD_GPT_USR_S390_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (s390x)3f324816-667b-46ae-86ee-9b0c0c6c11b4 SD_GPT_USR_S390X_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (TILE-Gx)4ede75e2-6ccc-4cc8-b9c7-70334b087510 SD_GPT_USR_TILEGX_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (amd64/x86_64)e7bb33fb-06cf-4e81-8273-e543b413e2e2 SD_GPT_USR_X86_64_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
/usr/ Verity Signature Partition (x86)974a71c0-de41-43c3-be5d-5c5ccd1ad2c0 SD_GPT_USR_X86_VERITY_SIGdittoditto
EFI System Partitionc12a7328-f81f-11d2-ba4b-00a0c93ec93b SD_GPT_ESPVFATThe ESP used for the current boot is automatically mounted to /efi/ (or /boot/ as fallback), unless a different partition is mounted there (possibly via /etc/fstab, or because the Extended Boot Loader Partition — see below — exists) or the directory is non-empty on the root disk. This partition type is defined by the UEFI Specification.
Extended Boot Loader Partitionbc13c2ff-59e6-4262-a352-b275fd6f7172 SD_GPT_XBOOTLDRTypically VFATThe Extended Boot Loader Partition (XBOOTLDR) used for the current boot is automatically mounted to /boot/, unless a different partition is mounted there (possibly via /etc/fstab) or the directory is non-empty on the root disk. This partition type is defined by the Boot Loader Specification.
Swap0657fd6d-a4ab-43c4-84e5-0933c84b4f4f SD_GPT_SWAPSwap, optionally in LUKSAll swap partitions on the disk containing the root partition are automatically enabled. If the partition is encrypted with LUKS, the device mapper file will be named /dev/mapper/swap. This partition type predates the Discoverable Partitions Specification.
Home Partition933ac7e1-2eb4-4f13-b844-0e14e2aef915 SD_GPT_HOMEAny native, optionally in LUKSThe first partition with this type UUID on the disk containing the root partition is automatically mounted to /home/. If the partition is encrypted with LUKS, the device mapper file will be named /dev/mapper/home.
Server Data Partition3b8f8425-20e0-4f3b-907f-1a25a76f98e8 SD_GPT_SRVAny native, optionally in LUKSThe first partition with this type UUID on the disk containing the root partition is automatically mounted to /srv/. If the partition is encrypted with LUKS, the device mapper file will be named /dev/mapper/srv.
Variable Data Partition4d21b016-b534-45c2-a9fb-5c16e091fd2d SD_GPT_VARAny native, optionally in LUKSThe first partition with this type UUID on the disk containing the root partition is automatically mounted to /var/ — under the condition that its partition UUID matches the first 128 bits of HMAC-SHA256(machine-id, 0x4d21b016b53445c2a9fb5c16e091fd2d) (i.e. the SHA256 HMAC hash of the binary type UUID keyed by the machine ID as read from /etc/machine-id. This special requirement is made because /var/ (unlike the other partition types listed here) is inherently private to a specific installation and cannot possibly be shared between multiple OS installations on the same disk, and thus should be bound to a specific instance of the OS, identified by its machine ID. If the partition is encrypted with LUKS, the device mapper file will be named /dev/mapper/var.
Temporary Data Partition7ec6f557-3bc5-4aca-b293-16ef5df639d1 SD_GPT_TMPAny native, optionally in LUKSThe first partition with this type UUID on the disk containing the root partition is automatically mounted to /var/tmp/. If the partition is encrypted with LUKS, the device mapper file will be named /dev/mapper/tmp. Note that the intended mount point is indeed /var/tmp/, not /tmp/. The latter is typically maintained in memory via tmpfs and does not require a partition on disk. In some cases it might be desirable to make /tmp/ persistent too, in which case it is recommended to make it a symlink or bind mount to /var/tmp/, thus not requiring its own partition type UUID.
Per-user Home Partition773f91ef-66d4-49b5-bd83-d683bf40ad16 SD_GPT_USER_HOMEAny native, optionally in LUKSA home partition of a user, managed by systemd-homed.
Generic Linux Data Partition0fc63daf-8483-4772-8e79-3d69d8477de4 SD_GPT_LINUX_GENERICAny native, optionally in LUKSNo automatic mounting takes place for other Linux data partitions. This partition type should be used for all partitions that carry Linux file systems. The installer needs to mount them explicitly via entries in /etc/fstab. Optionally, these partitions may be encrypted with LUKS. This partition type predates the Discoverable Partitions Specification.

Other GPT type IDs might be used on Linux, for example to mark software RAID or LVM partitions. The definitions of those GPT types is outside of the scope of this specification.

systemd-id128(1)’s show command may be used to list those GPT partition type UUIDs.

Partition Names #

For partitions of the types listed above it is recommended to use human-friendly, descriptive partition names in the GPT partition table, for example “Home”, “Server Data”, “Fedora Root” and similar, possibly localized.

For the Root/Verity/Verity signature partitions it might make sense to use a versioned naming scheme reflecting the OS name and its version, e.g. “fooOS_2021.4” or similar.

Partition Attribute Flags #

This specification defines three GPT partition attribute flags that may be set for the partition types defined above:

  1. For the root, /usr/, Verity, Verity signature, home, server data, variable data, temporary data, swap, and extended boot loader partitions, the partition flag bit 63 ("no-auto", SD_GPT_FLAG_NO_AUTO) may be used to turn off auto-discovery for the specific partition. If set, the partition will not be automatically mounted or enabled.

  2. For the root, /usr/, Verity, Verity signature home, server data, variable data, temporary data and extended boot loader partitions, the partition flag bit 60 ("read-only", SD_GPT_FLAG_READ_ONLY) may be used to mark a partition for read-only mounts only. If set, the partition will be mounted read-only instead of read-write. Note that the variable data partition and the temporary data partition will generally not be able to serve their purpose if marked read-only, since by their very definition they are supposed to be mutable. (The home and server data partitions are generally assumed to be mutable as well, but the requirement for them is not equally strong.) Because of that, while the read-only flag is defined and supported, it’s almost never a good idea to actually use it for these partitions. Also note that Verity and signature partitions are by their semantics always read-only. The flag is hence of little effect for them, and it is recommended to set it unconditionally for the Verity and signature partition types.

  3. For the root, /usr/, home, server data, variable data, temporary data and extended boot loader partitions, the partition flag bit 59 ("grow-file-system", SD_GPT_FLAG_GROWFS) may be used to mark a partition for automatic growing of the contained file system to the size of the partition when mounted. Tools that automatically mount disk image with a GPT partition table are suggested to implicitly grow the contained file system to the partition size they are contained in, if they are found to be smaller. This flag is without effect on partitions marked “read-only”.

Note that the first two flag definitions happen to correspond nicely to the same ones used by Microsoft Basic Data Partitions.

All three of these flags generally affect only auto-discovery and automatic mounting of disk images. If partitions marked with these flags are mounted using low-level commands like mount(8) or directly with mount(2), they typically have no effect.

Verity #

The Root//usr/ partition types and their matching Verity and Verity signature partitions enable relatively automatic handling of dm-verity protected setups. These types are defined with two modes of operation in mind:

  1. A trusted Verity root hash is passed in externally, for example is specified on the kernel command line that is signed along with the kernel image using SecureBoot PE signing (which in turn is tested against a set of firmware-provided set of signing keys). If so, discovery and setup of a Verity volume may be fully automatic: if the root partition’s UUID is chosen to match the first 128 bit of the root hash, and the matching Verity partition UUIDs is chosen to match the last 128bit of the root hash, then automatic discovery and match-up of the two partitions is possible, as the root hash is enough to both find the partitions and then combine them in a Verity volume. In this mode a Verity signature partition is not used and unnecessary.

  2. A Verity signature partition is included on the disk, with a signature to be tested against a system-provided set of signing keys. The signature partition primarily contains two fields: the root hash to use, and a PKCS#7 signature of it, using a signature key trusted by the OS. If so, discovery and setup of a Verity volume may be fully automatic. First, the specified root hash is validated with the signature and the OS-provided trusted keys. If the signature checks out the root hash is then used in the same way as in the first mode of operation described above.

Both modes of operation may be combined in a single image. This is particularly useful for images that shall be usable in two different contexts: for example an image that shall be able to boot directly on UEFI systems (in which case it makes sense to include the root hash on the kernel command line that is included in the signed kernel image to boot, as per mode of operation #1 above), but also be able to used as image for a container engine (such as systemd-nspawn), which can use the signature partition to validate the image, without making use of the signed kernel image (and thus following mode of operation #2).

The Verity signature partition’s contents should be a serialized JSON object in text form, padded with NUL bytes to the next multiple of 4096 bytes in size. Currently three fields are defined for the JSON object:

  1. The (mandatory) rootHash field should be a string containing the Verity root hash, formatted as series of (lowercase) hex characters.

  2. The (mandatory) signature field should be a string containing the PKCS#7 signature of the root hash, in Base64-encoded DER format. This should be the same format used by the Linux kernel’s dm-verity signature logic, i.e. the signed data should be the exact string representation of the hash, as stored in rootHash above.

  3. The (optional) certificateFingerprint field should be a string containing a SHA256 fingerprint of the X.509 certificate in DER format for the key that signed the root hash, formatted as series of (lowercase) hex characters (no : separators or such).

More fields might be added in later revisions of this specification.

Suggested Mode of Operation #

An installer that repartitions the hard disk should use the above UUID partition types for appropriate partitions it creates.

An installer which supports a “manual partitioning” interface may choose to pre-populate the interface with swap, /home/, /srv/, /var/tmp/ partitions of pre-existing Linux installations, identified with the GPT type UUIDs above. The installer should not pre-populate such an interface with any identified root, /usr or /var/ partition unless the intention is to overwrite an existing operating system that might be installed.

An installer may omit creating entries in /etc/fstab for root, /home/, /srv/, /var/, /var/tmp and for the swap partitions if they use these UUID partition types, and are the first partitions on the disk of each type. If the ESP shall be mounted to /efi/ (or /boot/), it may additionally omit creating the entry for it in /etc/fstab. If the EFI partition shall not be mounted to /efi/ or /boot/, it must create /etc/fstab entries for them. If other partitions are used (for example for /usr/local/ or /var/lib/mysql/), the installer must register these in /etc/fstab. The root= parameter passed to the kernel by the boot loader may be omitted if the root partition is the first one on the disk of its type. If the root partition is not the first one on the disk, the root= parameter must be passed to the kernel by the boot loader. An installer that mounts a root, /usr/, /home/, /srv/, /var/, or /var/tmp/ file system with the partition types defined as above which contains a LUKS header must call the device mapper device “root”, “usr”, “home”, “srv”, “var” or “tmp”, respectively. This is necessary to ensure that the automatic discovery will never result in different device mapper names than any static configuration by the installer, thus eliminating possible naming conflicts and ambiguities.

An operating system should automatically discover and mount the first root partition that does not have the no-auto flag set (as described above) by scanning the disk containing the currently used EFI ESP. It should automatically discover and mount the first /usr/, /home/, /srv/, /var/, /var/tmp/ and swap partitions that do not have the no-auto flag set by scanning the disk containing the discovered root partition. It should automatically discover and mount the partition containing the currently used EFI ESP to /efi/ (or /boot/ as fallback). It should automatically discover and mount the partition containing the currently used Extended Boot Loader Partition to /boot/. It should not discover or automatically mount partitions with other UUID partition types, or partitions located on other disks, or partitions with the no-auto flag set. User configuration shall always override automatic discovery and mounting. If a root, /usr/, /home/, /srv/, /boot/, /var/, /var/tmp/, /efi/, /boot/ or swap partition is listed in /etc/fstab or with root= on the kernel command line, it must take precedence over automatically discovered partitions. If a /home/, /usr/, /srv/, /boot/, /var/, /var/tmp/, /efi/ or /boot/ directory is found to be populated already in the root partition, the automatic discovery must not mount any discovered file system over it. Optionally, in case of the root, /usr/ and their Verity partitions instead of strictly mounting the first suitable partition an OS might choose to mount the partition whose label compares the highest according to strverscmp() or similar logic, in order to implement a simple partition-based A/B versioning scheme. The precise rules are left for the implementation to decide, but when in doubt earlier partitions (by their index) should always win over later partitions if the label comparison is inconclusive.

A container manager should automatically discover and mount the root, /usr/, /home/, /srv/, /var/, /var/tmp/ partitions inside a container disk image. It may choose to mount any discovered ESP and/or XBOOTLDR partition to /efi/ or /boot/. It should ignore any swap should they be included in a container disk image.

If a btrfs file system is automatically discovered and mounted by the operating system/container manager it will be mounted with its default subvolume. The installer should make sure to set the default subvolume correctly using “btrfs subvolume set-default”.

Sharing of File Systems between Installations #

If two Linux-based operating systems are installed on the same disk, the scheme above suggests that they may share the swap, /home/, /srv/, /var/tmp/, ESP, XBOOTLDR. However, they should each have their own root, /usr/ and /var/ partition.

Frequently Asked Questions #

Why are you taking my /etc/fstab away? #

We are not. /etc/fstab always overrides automatic discovery and is indeed mentioned in the specifications. We are simply trying to make the boot and installation processes of Linux a bit more robust and self-descriptive.

Why did you only define the root partition for these listed architectures? #

Please submit a patch that adds appropriate partition type UUIDs for the architecture of your choice should they be missing so far. The only reason they aren’t defined yet is that nobody submitted them yet.

Why define distinct root partition UUIDs for the various architectures? #

This allows disk images that may be booted on multiple architectures to use discovery of the appropriate root partition on each architecture.

Doesn’t this break multi-boot scenarios? #

No, it doesn’t. The specification says that installers may not stop creating /etc/fstab or stop including root= on the kernel command line, unless the used partitions are the first ones of their type on the disk. Additionally, /etc/fstab and root= both override automatic discovery. Multi-boot is hence well supported, since it doesn’t change anything for anything but the first installation.

That all said, it’s not expected that generic installers generally stop setting root= and creating /etc/fstab anyway. The option to drop these configuration bits is primarily something for appliance-like devices. However, generic installers should still set the right GPT partition types for the partitions they create so that container managers, partition tools and administrators can benefit. Phrased differently, this specification introduces A) the recommendation to use the newly defined partition types to tag things properly and B) the option to then drop root= and /etc/fstab. While we advertise A) to all installers, we only propose B) for simpler, appliance-like installations.

What partitioning tools will create a DPS-compliant partition table? #

As of util-linux 2.25.2, the fdisk tool provides type codes to create the root, home, and swap partitions that the DPS expects. By default, fdisk will create an old-style MBR, not a GPT, so typing l to list partition types will not show the choices to let you set the correct UUID. Make sure to first create an empty GPT, then type l in order for the DPS-compliant type codes to be available.

The gdisk tool (from version 1.0.5 onward) and its variants (sgdisk, cgdisk) also support creation of partitions with a matching type code.

Boot Loader Specification
Boot Loader Interface
Safely Building Images