Storing "real" user data: was: Re: Update: Re: Password Manager opinions and recommendations
- Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2018 09:57:02 -0400
- From: rhkramer@xxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Storing "real" user data: was: Re: Update: Re: Password Manager opinions and recommendations
On Friday, March 30, 2018 07:54:03 AM Tomaž Šolc wrote:
> On 27. 03. 2018 03:02, rhkramer@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
> > I have what might be called a "religious" aversion to storing what I
> > consider "real" user data in /home.
> I'm curious. Why do you have this aversion and where do you store "real"
> user data?
> This is the first time I've heard about not storing user data in /home.
> I thought that's the whole point of /home.
Well, it's my religion, and afaik, I have no (or maybe few?) disciples)--or
maybe I should not call them disciples but--what would the word be--
Also, it's been a while since I developed that "religion" (I shouldn't call it
a religion, I mean no disrespect to real religions).
Now I'm trying to "remember out loud" (which is sort of like thinking out
loud, only trying to remember rather than think ;-)
One of the first disappointing encounters I had with ~ was when I did something
like intentionally delete it--this could have been back around 2000 or 2001.
I completely forgot (or maybe I hadn't yet learned that there is a lot of stuff
stored in ~ as hidden files.
It (the stuff stored as hidden files) is what I now call "user configuration
data" as opposed to what I call "real user data", which I define as files I've
created or intentionally captured / stored--things like text documents,
letters, spreadsheets, code I may have written, music files, videos, photos,
...--in short, things I [probably | may ] want to keep "forever" (for example,
stuff I want to carry along when I upgrade to a new computer or OS).
When I upgrade to a new computer or OS, I don't necessarily want to carry my
"user configuration data" along--it may be irrelevant or even counter
productive in the new OS. (To be sure, sometimes the case is just the
opposite--I figured out some configuration that I prefer and I want to carry
that along to the new OS (assuming it will work in the new OS).
In fact, I may be misremembering my first disappointing counter with ~: I may
have done just the opposite of what I described like copy ~ (with my "real
user data" to a new OS and got all of the "user configuration data" along with
the "real user data" which caused some problems with the new OS.
* that was back in the day when I was first considering my move to LInux--
what I did in those days (with a spare computer) was attempt to install a
LInux distro--if it installed, I then tried it out for anywhere from a few
houirs to maybe a few days or weeks--when I found something I didn't like I'd
try the next distro. (In those days I found lots of Linux distros, some from
a LUG I belonged to.)
* in those early days, I may have made both mistakes--that is: carrying
along the "user configuration data" with my "real user data" when I really
didn't want to, and accidentally wiping out my "real user data" when I really
just wanted to wipe out the "user configuration data".
Anyway, to me it was a problem (and I considered it a design mistake) to
combine the two types of data in one directory, and even more so, having one
of the types of data as hidden files / directories so it was too easy (for me)
to forget about it.
So, anyway, after various fits and starts (which included corresponding with
various mailing lists about the problem or ways to get around it), I
considered two solutions each involving moving one of the types of data out of
It became easier to move my "real user data" out of ~. so I created a new (and
eventually more than one) top level directory which I named /<user> (e.g.,
/bill) to store my real user data.
Some of the related problems that I had to overcome included:
* many applications that I was aware of at the time defaulted to storing
their "real user data" files in ~. (I.e., if I created a text file with some
useful content, many applications stored that in ~ by default, and some didn't
even have a reasonable way of specifying a different directory (iirc--or, at
least, I couldn't find that reasonable way). So I had to find different
applications that allowed me to specify where to store the files, and, in some
cases, contacted the authors / maintainers of such software asking them to
provide such a reasonable way.
IIRC, lots of these things became easier when I started using a GUI vs. the
command line, but maybe the early GUIs had the same problem (of defaulting to
store "real user data" in ~.
* some of the people I corresponded with seemed to have no concept of what
I meant by real user data, and it took me a while to find ways to make it clear
to them. (Some of them seemed to just consider what I call "user configuration
data" as the only user data--the only thing that concerned them.)
* the people and specifications that "controlled" *nix seemed to think it
was perfectly fine to combine both types of data in one directory, with one
type hidden. I spent considerable time "lobbying" if you will some of those
people and specs to get them changed. (I think I was helpful in eventually
getting some changes made to the FHS to make it clear that storing real user
data in a place other than ~ acceptable. (On the other hand, there were other
people working in the same direction, so maybe I just eventually rode the
Anyway, these days, I store all my "real user data" in directories other than
~, these include directories like /<user>01, /<user>02, (e.g., /bob01, /bob02,
/back01, back02), and I have no fear / reluctance to create other such top
level directories when I feel a need to. (On the other hand, most of my real
user data is under directories like (e.g.,) /bob01, e.g., /bob01/photos,
The one thing I still don't like is that the "user configuration data" is
stored as hidden files in ~. I configure any file manager or similar software
that I use to show hidden files.
Thanks for allowing / prompting(?) me to reminisce! Sorry for bending your