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I would like to play with the various Linux OSs. I narrowed it down to three, which are Ubuntu, Fedora, and OpenSUSE. I will be installing Fedora 8 first, followed ...
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  1. #1
    Just Joined! dirk_diggler's Avatar
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    Should I mount /root and /home on separate or same partition?


    I would like to play with the various Linux OSs. I narrowed it down to three, which are Ubuntu, Fedora, and OpenSUSE. I will be installing Fedora 8 first, followed by Ubuntu 7.10, and finally OpenSUSE. I am a complete novice with this, but I have been reading up in the forums about it. I've already been playing with the installs of Ubuntu and Fedora, but on separate machines. With the help of the wise-and-willing folks on these forums, I have also been able to configure dual-boot with XP. This is, of course, in preparation of multi-booting on my super computer workstation.

    I just want to know what the advantages are for separating (and not separating) the mounts for /root and /home. So, I want to pick your brains regarding this issue. I'm just not too sure what the advantages are. It seems that having them separated will allow me to keep my current settings, but it looks like there is still a lot of manual tweaking to be done for this to be true. If I keep them separated, and in the future upgrade from my current version (ex. Ubuntu 7.10) will it be better if I just keep them separated?

    I ask because I will be partitioning my new hd and need to know how many partitions to create (and what sizes). I want to install Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, and maybe Fedora, so I am somewhere between 3 and 6 ext3 partitions (plus one more for the swap). If / and /home on the same partition, then I will make 3 ext3 partitions, and if separate, then I will make 6 ext3 partitions. I have a new 500 GB hd for this, and would like to keep the rest open for file-sharing for Linux and XP. XP is already installed on the current (and separate) hd.

    I was thinking of making 6 partitions, each 20 GB, and one 1GB for swap (approximately). Are these too small, or large? I have enough room on the hd.

    The alternative is a hybrid between the two, where I will have separate / but the same /home mount. Is this at all possible? I've read where folks have done this, but I don't know if it is at all feasible.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirk_diggler View Post
    I just want to know what the advantages are for separating (and not separating) the mounts for /root and /home. So, I want to pick your brains regarding this issue.
    They can be advantages or not, depending upon the concrete situation you are facing.

    I would rather call them "consequences", and leave it to you to decide if this consequeces of using separate partitions are advantages or not for you.

    The first, obvious one, is that you can use a diferent filesystem for each partition. Though, in my case, I would use ext3 for all this three partitions, because them all holds important data.

    Another consequence that is not too evident is that the fragmentation on the main partition (/), drop to a minimum, since you will only write to it when updating your system. /home, on the contrary, is writen much more frequently. That is why it is a good thing to have them on separate partitions. /root is not that frequently writen (it shouldn't be used more than necesary), but it is still a good idea to have it on another partition, or even another drive, because if the fs in / is corrupted, you can use the administration and rescue tools that you -possibly - saved on that directory.

    Another consequence would be that you can use different mount options. Some admins, for example, like to mount the /home partition using the "noexec" flag, which means that you can run anything on that partitions. That is done to prevent the users from using any software that is not what YOU (the admin) installed on the system dirs.

    You can also put /boot into a separate partition, and that way you can use your own custom made kernel on all your distros. A single grub.conf can deal with the configuration to boot all of them.

    There are many more, but with that, you can start to get the picture.

    I'm just not too sure what the advantages are. It seems that having them separated will allow me to keep my current settings, but it looks like there is still a lot of manual tweaking to be done for this to be true. If I keep them separated, and in the future upgrade from my current version (ex. Ubuntu 7.10) will it be better if I just keep them separated?
    This is not an easy one. You can share the /home partition, but I wouldn't advice to you to share the same user account for all your distros unless you actually know what you are doing.

    The first implication for this is that all your distros will require that you create the same user, with the same UID, because the UID is what tells the system who is the owner of a given file. If the UIDs are different, you will have problems. You will also need to make sure that the group id's are the same for the groups that create files that are shared amongst all the distros.

    You will need to refer to the specific forums for your distros and to the documentation and ask there, since there might be specific stuff that each distro do to keep the config dot files on the home dirs. You might have problems with kde, for example, when using different versions on different distros over the same home directory.

    So, to sum up, I would create a single /home for all the distros, but a different user on each distro. That will make it possible to share the home partition, but each user will have his/her own subdirectory under /home/ and there should be no conflicts at all.

    That way it will be easier to share the data amongst users later on.

    The space you need for each / depends on the distro and the software you want to run... There is no rule of thumb about this. Once you decide the size for each distro, save a gb or two for swap, and the rest can go to /home or whatever you want.

    I was thinking of making 6 partitions, each 20 GB, and one 1GB for swap (approximately). Are these too small, or large? I have enough room on the hd.

  3. #3
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Partitioning is a personal preference thing but from what you have listed above I would say ...

    You should find 20GB is more than enough for each partition to start with. If you start putting lots of video files in the home area you may get a bit short of space, but with the PartedMagic CD you can always adjust this afterwards.
    I would not mix home areas for different distros, there are hidden folders in the home area (start with .) which you could get a clash with. A separate /home partition can be used to save data & settings during an OS upgrade, but personally I like to do a fresh install. If you find you need to re-install because you broke the OS then the separate home partition will save you setup time.
    You've got a large enough HD so I would leave a bit of space free ... that way you can use it to install another distro, create a copy of your OS before trying something adventurous etc. so you can do a quick copy back of the partition if things don't go to plan.

    All just my opinion ... and as I said partitioning is a personal preference thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan183 View Post
    Partitioning is a personal preference thing but from what you have listed above I would say ...

    You should find 20GB is more than enough for each partition to start with. If you start putting lots of video files in the home area you may get a bit short of space, but with the PartedMagic CD you can always adjust this afterwards.
    I would not mix home areas for different distros, there are hidden folders in the home area (start with .) which you could get a clash with.
    As said above, that is not a problem if you are not using the same user on all the distros.

    But I now add one thing: you can also use the same user name if that is your preference, just make sure that the home directory for each is different. User info is stored on /etc/passwd (except for the passwords themselves, which are usually on /etc/shadow). So, you can just edit those files on every distro, and set the home dir for each one on a different place, for example, for the user i92guboj I could have this:

    On SuSE:
    Code:
    i92guboj:x:1000:1000::/home/i92guboj-suse:/bin/bash
    On ubuntu:
    Code:
    i92guboj:x:1000:1000::/home/i92guboj-ubuntu:/bin/bash
    On fedora:
    Code:
    i92guboj:x:1000:1000::/home/i92guboj-fedora:/bin/bash
    There are also graphical fronteds like kuser, and some distros also ship their own administrative tools that can be used to change the homedir for a given user.

    As long as you use different directories for each distro, you sould be on the safe side.

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