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Thinking on paper about my partioning strategy for Linux.

Although I like my strawman proposal, and will probably head in that direction, I dislike the extra level in the file hierarchy it introduces — to keep my data / work out of the /home or /home/rhk partition (so I can delete it to wipe out preferences), it means I need to store all my work one level deeper in the hierarchy (like /home/rhk/misc or whatever). I'll look at the files that save my preferences and see if there is a simple way to wipe out all of them should I desire to do so. (I.e., do those preference files have something in common — I suspect they are all hidden, if so, maybe a command like rm -r .* can delete those (and only those) files. Need to do some checking.) Do not try that command, as I have not tested it, and it may wipe out far more than I expect.

Ok, actually, rm -r .* does not seem too bad, especially as long as it is run interactively (which might be a pain due to lots of files). The only things that seem of concern are things like configuration files for stuff I might install myself after the original installation (in this case, wine). So, I want to rethink my "strawman proposal".

Oops, just remembered (by looking) that my Knoppix install on the hard disk of System5 is all contained in a single partition (\) — do I really want to create \boot, \var, \usr, and \home? Well, probably at least \var and \home. Should be fun. First I want to get the size of each partition — looks like I'll have to mount each and then run df or du.




I typically create the following separate partitions:

  • /
  • /boot
  • /usr
  • /var
  • /home

I've also created extra partitions, including various combinations of the following:

for various reasons, including: /home got filled, wanted to preserve work and data if I overwrote /home in a new install

  • /home2
  • /rhk
  • /adev (for AbiWord development — collapsible outlining)
  • /tdev (for TWiki development)
  • /xdev (for X server "development" — )

I'm now wrestling with whether it would be better to mount those extra partitions under /home, or /home/rhk instead of at the root level, and want to try to list the pros and cons of each:

Base Case: Big /home


  • Easiest approach


  • Configuration stuff mixed with my "data" — if I want to do a fresh install without preserving old settings, I can't do it by simply deleting /home — I'll lose my work and data

Mount under /


  • Seems easiest of these alternatives, see cons of other two alternatives


  • Violates [[][LSB File Hierarchy]] ??

Mount under /home

Pros: *


  • No advantage compared to the other two alternatives?

Mount under /home/rhk


  • Consistent ownership by user (rhk)
    • Many applications default files saves or opens to the users default directory (e.g., "rhk" in my case)
  • Doesn't violate [[][LSB File Hierarchy]] ??


  • More difficult — if done after install (for an rhk partition), must copy preference stuff from installed /home/rhk to rhk partition before mounting
  • More difficult to setup in any case, must create mount points, mount partitions, and modify fstab to create desired partition hierarchy
  • If I do want to wipe out home (in a new install), I must recreate the mount points, ..., fstab as described in previous step. (But, I have to do that anyway whether I want to wipe out /home or not (which just builds on "more difficult to setup")

Tentativie Conclusion

See Strawman Proposal.

Would I feel differently about partitions intended to be shared among multiple users?

Maybe, but then maybe the solution would be to have new "group" partitions under /home, like /home/xdevgrp or similar.

Strawman Proposal

How about (partitions):

  • /home (small)
  • /home/rhk (small) — limit to preferences and mountpoints only
  • /home/rhk/misc (or data, or ??) — for my work and data that doesn't fit into one of the next three items
  • /home/rhk/adev (for AbiWord development — collapsible outlining)
  • /home/rhk/tdev (for TWiki development)
  • /home/rhk/xdev (for X server "development" — )

How Set Up


With existing install, and preferences already in /home/rhk (part of /home partition)
  • mount rhk partition temporarily: mount -t <type> /dev/hd?? /rhk
  • copy contents of /home/rhk to /rhk: cp -a /home/rhk/* /rhk/ ??
  • delete stuff from /home/rhk: /bin/rm -r /home/rhk/* ??
  • make sure /home/rhk mount point remains: ls /home
  • mount rhk partition as /home/rhk: mount -t <type> /dev/hd?? /home/rhk
  • edit /etc/fstab to include line for /home/rhk: <later>

New /home/rhk/misc

With existing install, no existing misc directory in /home/rhk
  • create /home/rhk/misc mount point remains: mkdir /home/rhk/misc
  • mount misc partition as /home/rhk/misc: mount -t <type> /dev/hd?? /home/rhk/misc
  • edit /etc/fstab to include line for /home/rhk/misc: <later>

Similar for next partitions, but I think I want to write at least one more out.

Handling Existing Partitions During a New Install

During a new install of Linux, you can wipe out /home without affecting /rhk or any "sub" partitions. After the install you just have to recreate the mount points in /home, then remount /rhk and all sub partitions sort of working your way down the chain.

Similarly if you wipe out /home/rhk, for example.


  • () RandyKramer - 03 Jun 2003
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Topic revision: r4 - 2003-06-06 - RandyKramer
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