Posted in Computers, Linux, Networking, Ubuntu, Unix

Setting Up Ubuntu Server

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…


3 thoughts on “Setting Up Ubuntu Server

  1. For your needs your best off having a simpler partition table like this;

    /swap partition – for a computer with more than 256Mb of RAM and which won’t be doing too much, 256Mb of Swap is probably plenty

    /home partition – Make this the largest size possible, this is where all your files and also configs are stored. Ext3 is a good choice of FS, more stable than ext4

    ~2Gb / (root) partition – ext3 is probably the best FS in this situation, more stable, but a little bit slower than ext4

    This setup will give you the ability to easily resize your / partition if needs be, because it won’t have to move 100s of Gbs of data to do so. It will also keep your data and configs (which are stored on /home) safe if you wish to upgrade or re-install.

    I’ve a few blogs on my Ubuntu servers, and if you’d like some help setting things up, you can go to my blog below, leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to help. Setting up a server with Ubuntu can be daunting at first, but gets simpler and simpler 🙂

    My blog >

    1. Hi,

      Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and giving me your ideas. I will probably be reinstalling and partition as you’ve mentioned. You are correct about setting up being a bit daunting, but with time, patience, and helpful folks like you, things will become easier as time goes.

      I will also take a peek at your blog and bookmark it, too.

      Thanks again,


      1. No Worries, it just takes getting used to. I’m glad to help in whatever way I can, and Ubuntu Forums will almost certainly answer any questions I cannot.

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