The various versions of DOS and Windows use what I shall call here `DOS-type partition tables' to describe the division of a hard disk into partitions that each function as a logical disk. Other operating systems like OS/2 and Linux (when used on Intel or Alpha architecture) also use DOS-type partition tables.
So far, the precise specification of DOS-type partition tables has not been made public, and one finds that the various operating systems, disk managers, boot loaders and other programs that need to handle DOS-type partition tables have slightly different ideas about the details. Also different Microsoft operating systems, like Windows 95 and Windows NT, disagree.
Thus, one needs a minimal and a maximal description of DOS-type partition tables. A minimal one, which describes what should hold for all variants, and is used by systems that need to interpret DOS-type partition tables. And a maximal one, which describes how to construct partition tables that are correctly interpreted by all systems, and is used by programs that need to create DOS-type partition tables.
The present text gives the minimal specification of DOS-type partition tables. [The parts between square brackets are comments.]
Copyright (C) Andries E. Brouwer 1999. Comments and corrections are welcome. Mail to email@example.com.