Re: On filesystem layouts

Someone posted a comment to my previous post on ACLs; and now Andrew blogs about the same question:

Why don't I believe in multiple filesystems for a laptop?

Andrew's arguments don't really convince me. A filesystem eating itself? That's never happened to me yet. A hard disk dying on me, however, I've had that. Since I first owned a computer with a hard disk, I think there've been 5 of them. There's only one thing you can do against that -- have a proper backup strategy. That not only protects you against losing your data due to the somewhat likely event of a hard disk dying, it also protects you against losing your data due to the somewhat unlikely event of a filesystem eating itself.

On the other hand, however, a laptop hard disk is usually slow, small, and painfully so. Partitioning already-small hard disks into even-smaller partitions therefore doesn't sound like a particularly bright idea to me. Losing half a gig on unused space for /, then 400M for /usr, and 600M for /home, and another 2G for /var, or some such, is pretty stupid if you want to store a 3G file that you want to burn to disk; you have the available space, but you don't have it in one partition, so you get to do the cleanup dance. And nobody likes to do that, right? Oh, and don't try to fool me—I have yet to see a laptop that's been in use for more than a few months and whose disk is not filled to all but a few gigabytes. Nobody removes files until they're out of space, and then you only remove just as much as you need to be able to do the job at hand...

Occasionally, I do install server systems with multiple filesystems, and with LVM. On a server, the inability of a run-away system process (or user) to 'accidentally' fill up the root filesystem with junk is definately a life-saver. But once you have lost data, you need to recover anyway, and having partitions doesn't particularly help you in doing that. Also, servers tend to have multiple huge disks in a RAID array, so loss is less likely, and disk space is plenty; as such, the loss of 10% on the LVM overhead isn't something I care about, which it is on my laptop.

But, hey, to each their own preference. I won't look at you funny for preferring multiple partitions on your laptop. Promise!