This part assumes that you have decided to install Chimera on a disk and that you have managed to successfully boot the live media and log in to it.

The first part of any installation is to partition your target drive. This will differ depending on your architecture and system firmware, but some parts will always be the same.

If you wish to use Disk encryption, that will influence the way you partition your drive.

Let’s assume that the target disk drive is /dev/sda. Let’s start with wiping everything on it:

# wipefs -a /dev/sda

If there was LVM on the drive before, this might fail with an error such as Device or resource busy. This is because the volume group might have gotten set up on boot. In such cases, you will want to bring it down, e.g. with:

# vgchange -an

After that, wipefs -a should work. You might have to perform similar things for dmraid/mdadm and so on.

In any case, once you have wiped the drive, the easiest way to initialize a partition table and create partitions is with the cfdisk TUI program:

# cfdisk /dev/sda

If you wish to have your root file system on ZFS, please read this page and then go to Root on ZFS.

Legacy BIOS x86 systems

Required partitions:

  1. Root filesystem partition

Partition table: MBR (DOS)

Legacy BIOS setups only strictly need one partition. Do keep in mind that if you have an NVMe SSD, you will be unable to boot from it. Linux will see the SSD, but the BIOS will not. Use UEFI for NVMe. In fact, use UEFI unless you really can’t.

MBR is limited to 4 partitions and 2 terabytes. When using BIOS, you should nearly always use MBR.

Use the dos option in cfdisk. Mark the partition containing /boot with the bootable flag.

GPT with legacy BIOS

It is possible to use GPT if you create a special partition sized 1MB with the type BIOS boot (21686148-6449-6E6F-744E-656564454649) and no filesystem at the beginning, which will allow the bootloader to install. This may or may not work.


Required partitions:

  1. EFI System
  2. Root filesystem

Partition table: GPT

UEFI is the system of choice on most modern x86_64 systems, as well as a variety of systems of other architectures such as AArch64 and RISC-V.

Create a partition of type EFI System that is at least 200 megabytes. Smaller partitions will usually work, but some firmware may have issues.

Outside of that, the partition layout is up to you.


Required partitions:

  1. Root filesystem

Partition table: any (usually GPT)

OpenPOWER systems have an onboard bootloader that is a part of the system firmware, and run Linux as their system firmware. Therefore, they can use many different partition tables.

You will usually want GPT though.

PowerVM and other OpenFirmware POWER

Required partitions:

  1. PowerPC PReP Boot
  2. Root filesystem

Partition table: MBR or GPT

Non-OpenPOWER systems of the POWER archictecture are usually this. Virtual machines (qemu) are usually also this. These systems use variants of OpenFirmware (IEEE1275).

The first partition should be of PowerPC PReP Boot type and it should have around a megabyte. Virtual machines and newer physical systems will happily use either MBR or GPT, but you might want to stick with MBR for compatibility.

Other partitions


This is not required, but you might want one, depending on your system RAM and other requirements (e.g. hibernation). The partition type should be Linux swap.

A good amount is at least 4 gigabytes. The old guidelines for swap size based on your physical RAM no longer apply these days.

Note that if you are planning to use disk encryption with LVM, you will most likely want to make swap a part of your LVM, as swap can expose secrets.

Separate /boot

You can also have a separate /boot partition if you like. On EFI systems it is also possible to combine your /boot with the ESP. That allows for the following layouts:

  1. Root, /boot and ESP separate (3 partitions)
  2. Root, combined /boot and ESP (2 partitions)
  3. Root with /boot, separate ESP (2 partitions)

It mostly comes down to your preference and special circumstances such as Secure Boot systems and the bootloader of choice.

Sometimes, you may need a separate /boot because of your bootloader, if the bootloader does not support your root filesystem of choice.

Separate /usr

This configuration is not supported in Chimera, as it’s a fully usrmerged system. Please do not attempt this.

Separate /home

This is up to you and can be used with all layouts.