I’ve chosen to bring back to life an old PC that I had sitting in storage, install Ubuntu Server, and use it as a file server at home.
One of the things I’ve always taken for granted when setting up an OS installation (PC & Mac), is partitioning. Rarely questioning my decision, I’ve always used a single partition and dumped the OS, programs, and data files in it. If the OS needed a reinstall, I’d just back-up the data to an external USB drive, wipe the drive clean and start all over, and restore the data.
Now, this doesn’t seem so easy to do or accepting when setting up this Ubuntu-based server. Numerous online readings, articles and forum posts suggest using a partitioned drive to separate the OS from the data and the rest of the system, and this is where I seem to be stuck – making a decision on whether I should do this or not, understanding how it works and WHY.
Before I continue, I’ll add that I’m a total beginner to the Unix/Linux world; previous terminal exposure has been very, very little on the Mac, so I’m not very fluent using Ubuntu, much less without a graphical interface. I have to “Google” every other command or task I want to complete.
Returning to the partitioning and setup, I’ve noticed that I have quite a few choices:
- Separate partitions for /, root, boot
- Separate partitions for /, root, boot, /home, /srv, /usr
- Formatting as ext3, ext4, vfat (FAT32), LVM, NTFS…
So, needless to say, that given the fact that I have so many options, I am quite confused as to which one is the correct one for my needs. I want to select one that will allow me to keep my data safe, and keep the OS separate from the data, so I can do repairs and reinstalls without the need to move hundreds of GBs to an external device, and then transfer it back to the main server drive.
After much thinking, reading and debating, I think I have settled with the following, for now:
- 100 MB /boot partition
- 512 MB /swap partition
- 10 GB / partition, formatted as LVM2
- Remaining disk space is not formatted and still debating how to format it and partition it.
For now, all that remains is that I continue to do some research and reading, ask questions on the Ubuntu forum, evaluate my needs and go from there. I’d hate to format it one way because ‘everyone else says so’, only then to realize that it’s difficult for me to maintain, given that my knowledge on the system is so limited. I plan to have a final decision within a few weeks so the server can be finally ready to go online and starts to serve data to my internal network.
Let’s see what the future holds…