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I'm new to Debian. I've been using Ubuntu for almost 5 years now and I want to switch and use a different distro. I chose Debian.

I would like to know if is it possible store the home directory in a different partition on Debian? I'll use Debian 6.0.3.

I would like to use a FAT partition for /home directory, is it possible? I want to use fat because sharing files between Windows and Debian would be easier this way, and storing /home in a FAT partition would allow me to browse my documents whenever I need.

Also, having /home directory would help me to keep my current /home directory or when I change OS if Debian is not for me.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Mar 6 '12 at 14:01

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A number of things may break if you do that. There are far too many applications out there that assume a *nix-compatible filesystem mounted on /home. They may try to create symlinks, for instance. –  Alexios Mar 6 '12 at 18:36
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I don't find anything Debian-specific in this question. On almost every Linux distro priograms would have problems with such setup. –  Alois Mahdal Mar 7 '12 at 0:03
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Are you sure you don't need to store any file permissions, no file owners, no ACLs, no case sensitivity, a maximum file size of 4 GiB, a maximum partition size of 2 TiB, no POSIX compatibility, no hard links, no soft links, no journaling, no case sensitivity? If you would like to have some of these features and still be compatible with Linux and Windows, why don't you choose NTFS? I don't see any reason to use FAT on the desktop any more. –  Marco Mar 7 '12 at 10:52
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3 Answers

Yes, but not advisable (as FAT doesn't support permissions).

There are a couple of options you could consider:

  • install the ext2 Windows driver
  • mount the FAT partition inside /home/$USER/<mount-dir>

Either way the drive will be accessible by both systems.

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During the installation, you can set up the home directory as you like. After the installation, you can edit /etc/fstab to include mountpoint for the home directory.

Since FAT does not support permissions, it is not advisable as the partition for the /home mountpoint; you will not be able to restrict access to your files, and some programs will fail to run. Instead, use an ext2 partition, and install the ext2 Windows driver.

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If you do not want to install the ext2 driver for Windows, there is also NTFS, which has some advanced features in comparison to FAT32.

ntfs-3g seems to support now basic permission checks (not that easy to configure). Nowadays, ntfs-3g seems to work quite stable, but as you can read here having /home on a NTFS or FAT partition can lead to several problems.

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