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Thread: Benefits of creating a /home partition

  1. #1
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    [SOLVED] Benefits of creating a /home partition

    Okay guys, so I'm fairly new to linux and I am slowly making the switch from Windows 7 to Ubuntu...

    As I'm researching for applications to replace my current window solutions I read about how creating /home on a separate partition/HDD will allow me to store all my files in that so I don't need to back up due to a reinstall, upgrade, or distro switch.

    My question is, is this worth it? I usually will move all files important to me to separate drives anyways... but if this gives me a benefit to upgrade or even switch distro's as the guide said without losing data then I would consider this option.

    Also, if this is worth it should this be done on just a separate partition or a completely different hard drive?

    Idea's and/or helpful thoughts are would be great.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by lukemk1; June 1st, 2010 at 08:24 AM.

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    Re: Benefits of creating a /home partition

    Check out this thread.

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    Re: Benefits of creating a /home partition

    Yes it's worth it, you covered the benefits really. Less hassle for a reinstall/switch distro etc. Of course you may want to backup anyway in case of installer or user error at install time but it's not strictly necessary with a separate /home (and I don't typically bother).
    Last edited by antenna; May 29th, 2010 at 06:56 PM.

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    Re: Benefits of creating a /home partition

    How theoretically would you install a new distro and tell it to use the /home directory that is already there without it causing any data to be erased?

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    Re: Benefits of creating a /home partition

    Quote Originally Posted by lukemk1 View Post
    How theoretically would you install a new distro and tell it to use the /home directory that is already there without it causing any data to be erased?
    You have to be very careful the installation does NOT format the /home partition. Most will offer the option to mount the partition at /home without formatting the partition.

    Personally I use a data partition (ther are a number of config files in $HOME that I do not need).

    The main advantage of a separate home or data partition is the you can re-install the OS without data loss. This holds true of any OS, Linux, BSD, or Windows.

    There are 2 potential problems with a shared /home partition:

    1. Very rare, one of the config, or dot ( . ) files in your home partition will conflict across distros or versions of applications.

    2. A bigger potential problem, usernames. The OS does not understand your user name, you are a number, or uid. The first user in Ubuntu is 1000 , but in Fedora the first user is 500. So if you use the same user name across distros you would need to map all the users in /home to have the same uid.

    This is less an issue on single user systems, but is a problem with multiple users.

    You can avoid the problem by assigning a unique user name to each user on each distro, but this kind of defeats the point of a separate /home.

    Can be an issue with /data , but , almost be definition the information on /data has permissions of 777 or 666 ...
    Last edited by bodhi.zazen; May 29th, 2010 at 10:16 PM.
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    Re: Benefits of creating a /home partition

    If you have installed Ubu then thought "Oh dear, I should have /home on its own partition", then here you go:-

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=46866
    Last edited by mapes12; May 29th, 2010 at 11:51 PM.
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    Re: Benefits of creating a /home partition

    In addition to the home folder I also have my files backed up in a fat32 partition. Added protection if you mistakenly format the home partition.
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    Wink Re: Benefits of creating a /home partition

    givin what u posted i think there s no benefit in u using a /home on a seperate partition. Basically its the same in windows if you dont save your files in the usual "my documents" etc spaces since they get ereased during reinstall. If you did not do that in windows you don t have to in ubuntu.

    Personally i use a different partition for my /home directory as well as /var/ and /boot but that is a personal preference. It has its benefits and a few security benefits if ur running a server, but given that you backup your files anyway it will not be necessary for u running a desktop pc.
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    Re: Benefits of creating a /home partition

    For the past couple of updates, 8.10, 9.04 and 9.10, I used a separate home partition. However, when I went to 10.04, and after deciding I no longer needed XP, I told the installer to use the whole drive. I was going to set up a separate home but since I back up to several drives, I said screw it and only have a / and swap.
    However, I do a regular backup of my home using Grsync and just copy over whatever I need to the new set up. Had Thunderbird updated to version 3 (from 2 in Karmic) and had all my folders copied over and up and running in minutes. So I really don't see any use (for me at least) for a separate /home partition. YMMV

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  10. #10
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    Re: Benefits of creating a /home partition

    The main benefits of creating a separate home partition are:

    1. Preventing denial-of-service caused by a user exhausting disk space available to the operating system.

    2. Enhanced security by applying restrictive mount options to the /home partition (e.g. -o nosuid, nodev, noexec)

    3. Isolating user data within its own filesystem (user data not corrupted by system operations and vice-versa, users cannot build hard links to system files, etc.).

    4. Convenience in managing user data by being able to refer to it at the device or filesystem level (e.g.: the dd utility only works with devices, not directories; the find, locate, and symlinks utilities can be restricted to "same filesystem"; you can unmount the partition and perform operations on it while the system is running, etc.).

    In addition to security afforded by filesystem isolation and restrictive mount options, another reason to use a separate partition is to use a specialized filesystem for a group of files that might all be small, large, frequently read or written, needed instantaneously, rarely needed, shared over the network, etc..

    There are many schools of thought on partitioning. A traditional partitioning scheme (more applicable to servers than desktops) would include separate partitions for /boot, swap, /, /tmp, /var, /usr, /home, and possibly /var/tmp, /opt, and /srv.

    On my (non-ubuntu) desktop, I have /boot, /, /tmp, /var/tmp, /home, and a partition inside /usr for the directory that holds all the package manager data files (gigabytes of small files, in my weird distro).

    I think a separate /home partition is a good idea. However, if your objective is portability across distros or operating systems, then bodhi.zazen's approach of using a "data" directory is a better approach (you can still mount it inside your home directory, on on say ~/data or ~/documents or whatever).
    Last edited by BoneKracker; May 30th, 2010 at 04:27 AM.
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