Feature suggestions: optionally placing home folder into separate partition during ubuntu install

Daniel Gross daniel.gross at utoronto.ca
Sun Dec 26 13:20:48 UTC 2010


I just had a really bad experience while working with Ubuntu 10.10,
which suggested to me another reason for having a separate home folder.

My ext4 boot partition with all my data became inaccessible -- not
mountable, not checkable, only
accessible via dd or ddrescue, but the data coming out is very partial
(the image i am getting
claims to be of type ext2, for some reason, so can't be checked either).

I had just started a new virtual machine, and then the hard drive
started spinning at "full speed",
with the computer not responding. After a while I felt that the only
way out is a hard reset.

Unfortunately, either the spinning out of control, or the hard reset,
or both, have
damaged the ext4 partition in a significant way. Interestingly, a
second NTFS partition (with my preinstalled windows xp pro on it)
wasn't affected, and i was able to boot windows xp without problems,
but not able to access the
ext4 partition, also not with a special ext4 file system utility.

After much trial and error i still can not properly access the ext4
partition, getting a "drive exclusively in use by
other process or mounted error?".

I happened to have another 320 SATA drive around, which i am not
freshly installing with ubuntu 10.10.
To avoid such problems with the boot partition in the future, I
decided to the the following
partitioning scheme.

Ubuntu Boot partition -- 40 GB, ext4
Primary NTFS partition of size 220 GB, mounted at /windows
Primary NTFS partition of size 60 GB, not mounted.

My plan is to move my home directory to the 220GB partition.

Like this if the ubuntu ext4 boot partition fails again, i will hopefully be
able to access all my data from both windows and ubuntu rescue facilities.

So, the reason to move the home directory to a different partition
(and file system type), relates to not putting all your files in
one ext4 boot partition basket.


On Wed, Oct 27, 2010 at 8:01 PM, Daniel Gross <daniel.gross at
utoronto.ca <https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-devel-discuss>>
>* Hello,
*>* I have finally taken the plunge and installed the latest Ubuntu instead
*>* of Windows XP (while still running Windows xp in a VM).
Congrats :)

>* It would be great if a tool existed that supports moving the home folder
*>* from the "boot" partition to a "data" partition. Ideally, the tool would
*>* support creating a data partition by resizing the boot partition, as
*>* well as recommending a minimum size for the data partition based on the
*>* size of the home folder.
*>* Ideally, i think, such a setup could already be suggested during the
*>* Ubuntu installation process. Perhaps, under an "advanced setup" heading
*>* -- removing the need to move the home partition.
*>* The main benefit for such a setup, is that it allows reinstalling Ubuntu
*>* without loosing the users data, which would be safely sitting in a
*>* separate data partition.
Putting it on a separate partition isn't actually necessary. Currently
when Ubuntu is directed to install to a partition which previously had
Ubuntu on it, it reinstalls only what is necessary, leaving things
such as user settings intact. So this is effectively already done,
just without the necessity for multiple partitions.

>* Also, during (re)installation, Ubuntu could recognize the existence of a
*>* data partition that includes a home folder, and suggest configuring
*>* itself accordingly.
This is an interesting idea. I'm not sure what we currently suggest
when another Ubuntu is already installed, but a kind of
reinstall/upgrade option would probably be useful. Again, we'd only
need the one partition for it though.

>* Taking this idea a step further, perhaps its possible to also preserve
*>* the packages that were installed, so that these remain intact in the
*>* data partition also. Perhaps a better name for the data partition could
*>* be "User" partition, which includes all user configured, tailored,
*>* created data. As opposed to the System partition which includes the base
*>* OS only, and that can be reinstalled at will.
Technically, every part of Ubuntu (including the base OS) is
considered just an installed package, so doing this wouldn't be
simple. I'm also having trouble seeing the use case for this - most
people (in my experience) reinstall Ubuntu as a way to clean up cruft
(or apparent cruft - a fresh install often feels faster just by
placebo effect). Presumably they would want such packages removed,
else why would they reinstall? They're may be something I'm missing,
but I can't see "reinstalling while keeping current packages" to be a
common desire.

You've raised some very interesting points, all of which merit further
Enjoy your shiny new Ubuntu :)

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