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While everything @dalto said here is spot on, I would especially concentrate on the last sentence he said: don’t overthink it, it’s all a learning experience.
There are countless ways to set up partitions and filesystems. Only with experience will you know what works best for you.
That said, here is my recommendation for newbies who need a simple configuration to get started (and this is how I set up pretty much all my systems). It is simple and will be satisfactory in most cases. There is nothing fancy about it.
You have 32 GB of RAM, if this is a desktop computer, you don’t need it to hibernate. In that case, you don’t need to worry about swap at all when you install. Now, even a computer with a lot of RAM benefits from having swap, so after install, you can set up a swap file. Make it 6 GB, that’s plenty, and put it on your fastest SSD (ideally, NVMe, if you have it). With 32 GB of RAM, you will use swap very rarely, and you will never notice any degradation in performance due to swap.
Regarding partitioning, keep it super simple.
On your main drive (the fastest SSD you have):
- you need an EFI partition, which should be some 256 MB (that’s more than enough, unless you boot multiple OS) and it should be formatted as vfat.
- the rest make one partition, format it as ext4. No swap, you’ll make a swap file later.
For every other drive, keep it as one partition per drive, formatted as ext4. You can set up those other drives after you install the OS.
That should cover some 80-90% of all use cases, it’s simple and foolproof, great for newbies as well as for experienced users (though the latter usually have their own preferences).
/home directory, making a separate partition for it is pointless (and will be quite limiting). It’s much simpler to keep
/home on your root partition. Now, inside the home directory, you’ll have other directories like
Downloads. You can use these directories and others as mountpoints for your other drives. My recommendation is to mount all your additional internal drives inside your home directory (assuming you are the only person using this computer, of course). The benefit of that is that you will not have to bother with permissions and ownership. Other people might disagree with this recommendation of mine, and will insist that all drives have to be mounted in
/mnt. I think they are wrong, but in the end, it’s a matter of personal preference.
This is how you make a swap file on ext4 drive:
If you want Timeshift, you can set up rsync snapshots. They are slower than btrfs snapshots, but work perfectly fine. And if, down the line, you decide you want fancy btrfs features, you can always reinstall the OS, it’s not a big deal.
Regarding losing data, always have a backup of all files you don’t want to lose. This is not so much a matter of choosing a filesystem but the fact that all hardware will eventually fail and when SSDs fail, typically that means data is unrecoverable. So keep it backed up, preferably on external drives. Storage nowadays is fairly cheap and it’s not worth the frustration of losing important data.