Separate /home partition

Thierry de Coulon tcoulon at
Sat Nov 13 23:20:02 UTC 2010

On Saturday 13 November 2010 10:12:41 pm Colin Law wrote:
> >
> > But lets all just admit it's bad systems design to not put /home on a
> > separate drive or partition.
> Why?  Given the fact that one can re-install or install a different
> version over an existing one without loosing /home, whether it is a
> partition or a directory, what is the advantage of it being on a
> separate partition?
> Colin

I've a good example as to "why", although it's a little old. I used to use an 
Office Suite names Applixware. It came with an "installer", but you had to 
start the installer from a terminal.

So what happened if you just clicked on it? Apparently nothing. Actually, the 
installer tried to start it's window, but that failed, so it wrote some 
information about the failure in .xsession-errors.

So far, so good, but the installer was very obstinate, so it would try again, 
and again, and again....  until .xsession-errors filled all the available 
space. Next time you started your computer, there was no place to write the 
logs, so the graphical interface would not start, and you would be dropped at 
a command line, not understanding what was going on, unable to open anything 
that wanted to create a log...


case a): you have /home on a partition. You could still log in as root and 
cure the problem, say with nc or so - except standard Ubuntu has no root 

case b): /home is on /, so you can't start any user

I have /home on a partition, _and_ i have root :)
But given that most Ubuntu users won't have root, maybe not using a partition 
for /home does not matter. I'm not sure which of both is "bad systems 


"We live at a time when emotions and feelings count more than truth, an there 
is a vast ignorance of science" James Lovelock

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