Are /home partitions worth it?

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Operating Systems Linux Are /home partitions worth it?
# 1  
Old 10-15-2013
Wrench Are /home partitions worth it?

I'm new to the Linux world and whilst I've been learning the ropes, I've read some conflicting opinions regarding the creation of separate partitions for /home and other directories during OS install.

Some say that having these directories in separate partitions allows you to reinstall without losing your data. Others say that it adds pointless complexity to the system and that some unwanted files from old installations linger after new installs.

What do you people think about this?

If storing certain directories on separate partitions is a good idea, why is this the case? Would it be better to use completely different drives?

Is this different from distro to distro?

Thanks in advance.
# 2  
Old 10-15-2013
There are several good reasons to have separate filesystems (not in any particular order):
  • Filling up the /home filesystem with files or using up all the inodes with tons of tiny files will not affect the operating system
  • In case of a filesystem damage, the loss of data is limited
  • I/O can be balanced over several physical devices
  • /home can be mounted in a way to disallow execution of s-bit programs, resulting in a higher system security
  • and certainly many more reasons I can't think of at the moment :-)
But of course there are drawbacks
  • free space is distributed over several filesystems resulting in more unused space. One filesystem can not borrow space from another (in most cases)
  • on specialized servers, like a DNS server, with no users but the admins, the overhead is unneccesary
Conclusion: in my opinion, the advantages of separate filesystems outweigh the disadvantages by far in most cases. This is valid for all kinds of *ix operating systems.
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# 3  
Old 10-15-2013
Thanks for your informative response.

To be honest, I don't know what s-bit programs are and I never actually considered that having separate partitions could be a security control. I'll put this on my list for things to research.

The main reason I was hesitant to create separate partitions is because I'm not sure how much space I'll need and I don't want to be stuck in a few months when either my /home directory is full or the rest of my system is full.

Would I get the same benefits by having all of my data on a separate drive and creating symlinks to my home directories? Would it be better to just store /home on a separate drive or is there some advantage to having partitions on the same drive?

Are there any other directories which you would recommend to create a separate partition for?
# 4  
Old 10-15-2013
Free space on disk C: in Windows refers to free space of that partition.

Newcomers to Linux are usualy best serverd (to get started) by using:
  1. / : The 'root' partition (unlike the root dir: /root - the 'home' of root/admin)
  2. /home : The home for all your personal files and configurations

NOTE: Most linux use 500 as the default UID for new Users.
AFAIK: Fedora (not sure about the other RH based Linux') is the only one using 1000.

Thus, sharing /home of Fedora with a Debian install might cause issues, unless you have changed /etc/passwd accordingly and relabel the /home for SELinux matters (better use: system-config-users).

The useless complexity is given if you do:
  • /opt
  • /var
  • /tmp
  • /home
  • /boot
  • /
As a first time user, most of those 'used' or 'suggested' moutpoints are only relevant for companys/professional use (meaning: work - not hobby/private use), in which case they'd have the NEED for those mountpoints.

Again, as a newcomer, all you 'need' is:
"/home" and of course "/"
For which "/" should be something around 8-24gb, and /home 'ALL' the rest!
A comman linux installation takes around 4-6 gb, ~7gb if Gnome 3.11...
Adding another 7gb just in case you might want do backup-copys of your fav. DvDs giving a requirement of ~ 14gb providing 7gb of free space for the tempfiles of the dvd.

EDIT: to include post that was done mainwhile....
I tried to do symlinks too at the beginning, makes things more complex than they are, and might cause you to delete files by accident, by deleting a symlink the wrong way (happened several times to me, even recently).

If you have 2 drives, and no windows.
Then i'd use the small disk-drive for the OS (read: the "/" partition) (as previously stated, usualy max 24gb for / are sufficant... 32gb for LTS - just to be sure....)
And the large disk for the files: /home.

Do not forget about SWAP, that should ALWAYS BE about 1.5 times your RAM. 1:1 at least - so you can hibernate/suspend.

Last edited by sea; 10-15-2013 at 08:41 AM..
This User Gave Thanks to sea For This Post:
# 5  
Old 10-15-2013
Thanks sea.

I'm using Ubuntu at the moment but I'm thinking about switching to Debian once I have more of an idea what I'm doing but I need to do some more exploring first. I do use my computer for work but I doubt my demands require some of the more 'exotic' mount points as you pointed out.

I've been convinced. When I reinstall, I'll create /home in a separate partition.

I posted this same question in another forum and the replies didn't seem to be as informative and thoughtful as the replies I got here. Thanks a lot.
# 6  
Old 10-15-2013
Originally Posted by maerlyngb
Is this different from distro to distro?
It seems to be quite different between Ubuntu and Redhat.

The default layout in Redhat is to have two disk partitions: one for /boot and one for LVM, and in LVM goes / and swap.

Neither Ubuntu or Redhat has (and I assume no distributions have) a separate partition for /home. Ideally the "home" directory should exist in one place and be automounted to the various servers where and when it's needed.

With the exception of /boot - if everything else is using LVM - there's no requirement to have any separate partitions for anything, even though it's desirable to do so for the reasons given.

It's also important to know which filesystems should not be mounted on their own filesystems. Namely:
  • /etc
  • /bin
  • /sbin
  • /dev
  • /lib
  • /root
  • /sbin
  • /selinux
# 7  
Old 10-15-2013
While that is true, i HIGHLY recomend to use "plain partitions" rather than LVM in RedHat based installs (Fedora, CentOS, Scientific Linux). (EDIT: For personal use that is.)

LVM's have great bonus if used with raid-systems, or on systems that will 'never' change.
(NOTE: LVM is great in resizing its partitions within the LVM volume)

But for personal use, LVM is just a pita.
Specialy if you face any mount issues (fstab or kernel) and are not 'familiar' with handling those.

Last edited by sea; 10-15-2013 at 04:41 PM..
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