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Re: [OT?] home partition vs. home directory

On 11/30/18, Roberto C. Sánchez <roberto@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> On Fri, Nov 30, 2018 at 12:14:40PM -0500, Default User wrote:
>>    I often see people recommend a separate home partition.
>>    But why would (or not) that be better than just a home directory
>> within
>>    the root directory?
>>    Wouldn't one less partition be simpler, and therefore (all other
>> things
>>    being equal) better?
>>    Opinions, please.
> The main reasons for a separate home partition are to share it between
> multiple installations in a multi-boot scenario and/or to allow for easy
> re-installation of the OS while preserving everything under /home.
> If neither of those apply, then a separate home partition is not
> especially beneficial.

Cliff's Notes Version Part I: Flaky USB connections are an important
factor! An accidentally disconnected USB connection can cause data to
become *unknowingly* redirected back to the original directory on the
primary partition. That situation can then potentially lead to loss of
e.g. downloaded data if a user is not always 100% aware of where data
is actually residing at all times.....

Cliff's Notes Version Part II: One Debian-User mused about binding
even deeper into ~/ child directories instead of just ~/. I LIKE THAT
for software configuration compatibility reasons. It's my next
intended setup. :)

The "so what had happened was" version: I started playing with this a
few months ago. I LIKE IT primarily because I finally got brave enough
to learn how to add lines to fstab to go a different, slightly more
complicated mount route for computing.

Because I've experienced a deal-breaking software configuration
compatibility problem, the one thing I'm always hesitant about is that
*once in a while* there might be that compatibility issue with
software package user config files under /home/user (~/).

Browsers are where I experienced that episode. When I tried to step
back down after an upgrade didn't work, what a mess! That became my
firsthand experience in deleting those *not hidden* (grin) "dot files"
under /home/user. It could overwhelming super quick if that same
incompatibility began occurring across all the various distros a user
might have ready to boot up at any second.

An important aside is that one HAS to know what's saved in those
config files if deleting them becomes necessary. Sometimes there are
bookmarks and other suchly important information. I get around that
point by renaming instead of deleting. I use last date used as a
cull-friendly milestone marker when renaming important directories.

With respect to separate home partitions, one Debian-User recently
mentioned that they avoid the software configuration compatibility
issue by further breaking their setup down. They have things like
~/Documents and ~/Downloads each shared via a separate partition (or
similar) instead of only the whole ~/ directory.. I LIKE that thought
process. It's what I'll be attempting* with mine the next time I feel
like messing with it.

Having lately been successfully "mount -B" ing my
/var/cache/apt/archives hoard, I can now easily see having those
(~/Documents, ~/Downloads, et al) each remaining as their own separate
directories on a secondary partition. Fstab would then be asked to
step-by-step put each of them to work as a singular entry connected up
at each reboot...

OR NOT.... But I'm leaning super heavy toward trying that route soon
just because the test run with my archive stash has been working so
well to date. :)

Oh, wait, EXCEPT THAT there is one serious CAVEAT that comes to mind.
Having something like ~/ on a secondary partition is a notable "not so
much" if the secondary partition is connected via an unstable USB

Unstable USB connections complicate things super quick. It would be
easy to start losing data if a user is not self-educated in how to
recognize where their data is actually residing in their system. What
can happen is that a flaky USB connection will close, but you could
still be saving data to the /home/user directory under /.

thinking you're safely saving important data under /dev/sdh6/home
(your secondary partition) when instead a closed USB connection means
that data goes back directly under /dev/sda2/home (i.e. your primary

SOMETIMES YOU GET LUCKY and your system will complain that a mounted
directory is suddenly missing, but you do NOT always get that lucky.

Where that can be detrimental is if you a-sumed all had always stayed
connected and thus worked as planned and so you go off and delete an
entire operating system to get set up for a shiny new install. What
you will have done is you will have innocently deleted all e.g.
recently downloaded data that had accidentally been redirected back
directly into /home/user. I avoid that disaster by always one last
time manually verifying what's left sitting in /home, /media, /mnt,
AND some various personal /var/* directories.

As another aside, I've more than a few times caught and rescued rsync
backup whoopsies that ended up saved as hard data under /mnt and
/media. Check, check, and double-check then check one more last time
because things do not always work as intended.. :)

Cindy :)
Cindy-Sue Causey
Talking Rock, Pickens County, Georgia, USA

* runs with duct tape *