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Put /var over thar?
June 5, 2012 10:00 AM   Subscribe

How do I best set up Linux partitions & mount points on my old netbook with limited storage capacity?

I have an old Asus Eee 900 (with the Celeron proc). It has a (terrible) 4GB SSD and a 16 GB SD card. I think I grok partitioning but I don't know how to set the mount points so that it uses the 16GB for storage of things that will expand over time. I keep having to reinstall the OS every few months because the 4GB drive gets filled up with software updates and user files, yet the 16GB drive still has multiple gigs free.

I have been running Ubuntu in the past but this time I'm installing Mint 13.

Can you advise me on what to do or point me to the proper reading to figure it out?

Upgrading hardware or spending money is not an option, and no need to warn me about poor performance from the terrible PHISON SSD or card reader as I am infinitely familiar with those issues and can live with it. Thanks!
posted by Edogy to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you know the breakdown of where the updates are going ? /usr, /var, or what ?

One way might be mount /usr on the 16 gb and / on the 4,gb but then you need to be dilligent about what goes where when you run updates.

Or use some fs/LVM type that would show only a single 20 gb "drive" and go with that.
posted by k5.user at 10:09 AM on June 5, 2012


Do you know the breakdown of where the updates are going ? /usr, /var, or what ?

No, and I've already reformatted the drives so I can't tell you what it was like just now when it filled up again.

One way might be mount /usr on the 16 gb and / on the 4,gb but then you need to be dilligent about what goes where when you run updates.

You know, I'm pretty sure that's how I had it set up, and therein is the problem. I know enough to do the former but not yet enough to do the latter.

use some fs/LVM type that would show only a single 20 gb "drive"

That's a good idea. I'll look into it.
posted by Edogy at 10:17 AM on June 5, 2012


How is the ssd terrible? Slow? if that's the case, i'd just put /boot on the ssd and / on the SD card. This will waste quite a bit of space on the ssd. If the ssd is only terrible because of it's size, i'd put /boot, /var, and /tmp on the ssd, and / on the SD card.
posted by duckstab at 10:31 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


A simple solution: if you have a spare flash drive, do a persistent install to that and use it to boot from. Use both the 4GB SSD and a 16 GB SD card just as data storage.

You are right, the SSD in the Eee 900 is pretty crappy. Booting over USB from a flash drive will only add 30 seconds or so to your boot time.
posted by quarterframer at 10:38 AM on June 5, 2012


How is the ssd terrible? Slow?

Yeah, beside really terrible transfer rates it's a non-TRIMable SSD that's been filled up several times now. I like the idea of /boot on the ssd and / on the SD card , though.
posted by Edogy at 10:52 AM on June 5, 2012


You could partition the SSD with 2 partitions - one 1GB partition for boot, mount the SD on /, and mount the second SSD as /home/edogy/shitty_extra_storage/.
posted by duckstab at 10:59 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seconding what duckstab said. That's about how I'd approach it.
posted by xedrik at 11:11 AM on June 5, 2012


My experience is that Debian-based distros, which include Ubuntu and Mint, strongly prefer monolithic partitioning schemes. I tried splitting out like you want to do here, and even with IRC #ubuntu advice it just wouldn't happen. If you're very good with the boot manager, I'd give your chances a strong "maybe." As an alternative, I'd suggest FreeBSD, which shines in the many-rooty-partitions department, but may not be so Eee-friendly.
posted by rhizome at 12:55 PM on June 5, 2012


I have Mint 13 installed and running like duckstab suggested above, with a 1 GB /boot on the SSD and / on the 16 GB SD card. So far, so good. If anyone else has some alternative suggestions for consideration I'm happy to entertain them.

rhizome: Huh, I never had too much of a problem with that. Been running Ubuntu on it for a while now. The tricky part for me is having to go into the BIOS and screw around the boot order, trial-&-error, until it boots successfully. And I am definitely not very good with boot managers. :) Thanks for the idea though.
posted by Edogy at 1:16 PM on June 5, 2012


And just to add to my last comment, rhizome, even though I did put 1 GB /boot on the SSD and / on the 16 GB SD card, it wouldn't boot with the SSD listed as the first drive in the BIOS. But it would when I put the SD card drive ahead of it. So whatever, it's working now.
posted by Edogy at 1:20 PM on June 5, 2012


That's a little different than what I had attempted. You're using a monolithic / with a separate /boot, which is likely more kosher than splitting out /var, /usr, etc., which is what I was trying. Separate drives vs. one drive with partitiions also makes this a bit more manhandlable (via BIOS, as you're using). Cool for you! :)
posted by rhizome at 2:00 PM on June 5, 2012


I've never had a problem splitting out partitions on Debian/Ubuntu. If your SSD is truly as crappy as it sounds I myself would end up doing this:

Install a minimal recovery like install on the SSD with separate / and /boot partitions. Copy that / install over to the SD. Tweak the GRUB on the SSD to have boot entries for both preferring the SD. Edit SD /etc/fstab to point to the /boot on the SSD.

Then in a pinch you can boot to a minimal install without the SD card if needed. Your BIOS is happy because it's booting from the first internal drive. You can alternately do a full install (with /boot) on the SD and use GRUB on the SSD to chainload to the bootloader on the SD, again making BIOS happy.

One thing to keep in mind when splitting things up is that distros will likely move to a unified / and /usr filesystem ( /bin is a link to /usr/bin, /sbin a link to /usr/sbin), Solaris is already doing this.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:15 PM on June 5, 2012


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