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Partitioning Strategies
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ghporter
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Feb 24, 2024, 11:38 AM
 
I’ve had to replace my new-to-me i7 Debian machine - turns out some refurbishers don’t do enough inspection of the machines they refurbish, and miss stuff like obvious water damage*. So I have a new new-to-me machine from a reliable source (and with physical offices I can drive to!), and I am going to set it up from scratch.

I haven’t been able to get useful information about the differences between, and advisability of using a primary partition (root) and an extended partition with multiple sub-partitions (/var, /home and so on), and using multiple independent partitions (root, /var, /home and so on).

I have seen lots of recommendations about setting a drive up with virtual partitions, but the supposed advantages (resizing virtual partitions on the fly, for example) don’t appear to be any easier of simpler than just using something like gparted on traditional partitions. Again, no useful information pops up for me, just a whole lot of fanboi-sounding gushing, so any insight on this would be helpful.

Finally, I bought a mini-tower machine for expandability, but I haven’t been able to get a solid understanding of how I might set up a Linux distro on multiple drives. If someone could point me to authoratitive information on the pros and cons, and practical advice about how to go about this, I’d really appreciate it.

This machine will boot from UEFI rather than legacy BIOS, if that makes a difference.

*That clamp apparatus that locks a CPU into the socket really shouldn’t have crusty red rust, ya know?

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
reader50
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Feb 24, 2024, 02:36 PM
 
My personal experience has been to spill over to other drives when I have huge data, that doesn't comfortably fit on the boot drive. Or when boot drives went to (small) SSDs, but the data wouldn't fit. We've mostly moved out of that era - 2TB SSDs are affordable today, and 4TB is getting there.

I'm not sold on partitioning within an OS, when space isn't an issue. There may be security benefits on a machine exposed to the internet. But for personal use, it feels like extra work for no particular gain. The only advantage I'm thinking of is using partitions to reserve space for critical system folders. So if you lose track of your free space, you'll get warnings instead of crashes.

But it would be better to check your free space now and then, and upgrade drive size before running low. HDs don't like being near-full, and it's worse for SSDs.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Feb 24, 2024, 04:12 PM
 
I want to keep some things separate in case the OS goes astray. Reinstalling the OS over itself on an existing partition is fairly painless, and it's pretty straightforward to preserve any other partitions. This may be a reaction to a "legacy problem", but I like to avoid problems altogether. And being able to reinstall Debian on a partition that's separate from my web server or personal files allows me to avoid data loss.

With that said, I don't know if there's any benefit to separating anything other than /var (where Apache's document root resides by default) and /home from the OS - except for a /tmp partition and a swap partition that seem to be obligatory in the Linux world.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
ghporter  (op)
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Feb 29, 2024, 05:51 PM
 
I went with separate root, /tmp, /var, and /home partitions, along with swap space. Since the OS is essentially confined to the root partition I plan to image it and squirrel that away - once I'm satisfied with apps and settings and such.

I sized the /var partition large enough (I hope) to manage my internal web pages where Apache expects to find them. This means that I have to go through a few hoops to edit those files, as opposed to just doing the work in a folder under /home. I'll see if this was worthwhile or not... Fortunately, the only glitch I had with migrating my stuff to the new machine was forgetting to configure Apache to run PHP code within an HTML file, so a couple of pages had "really weird failures". Chrome's "inspect" function gave me enough clues - though they didn't actually point out the issue - to get things back up and running fairly smoothly.

Related (?); I think I should share my experiences with an Amazon refurbisher versus a local firm. The local folks appear to have a significant connection with Dell, and I can actually drive to their storefront and talk to people there, whereas the one that "refurbished" the one I sent back is in Ontario. Oh, the details I can spill... I will start writing up my experience to see if I can be honest and factual enough to suit me.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
   
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