Unix & Linux Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

As far as I understand, the traditional place for home directories is beneath /home. Some Linux variants seem to keep them in /var/home, what's the reason for that?

share|improve this question
might I ask what variants? I've never seen that. It's definitely against FHS – xenoterracide Nov 9 '10 at 1:12
@xenoterracide: You might have guessed from my other question, this is about WebOS again. /home just contains symlinks to /var/home. – Tomalak Nov 9 '10 at 8:26
up vote 10 down vote accepted

My guess is that WebOS is designed to be installed on two different filesystems, a root filesystem that is read-only in normal operation and a filesystem mounted on /var that is read-write in normal operation. Since home directories need to be writable, they are placed somewhere under /var. This kind of setup is fairly common on unix systems that run off flash (such as PDAs¹ and embedded unices).

While /home is mentioned by the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard on Linux and is generally common amongst unices, it is not universal (the FHS lists it as “optional” and specifies that “no program should rely on this location”). Sites with a large number of users sometimes use /home/GROUP/USER or /home/SERVER/USER or /home/SERVER/GROUP/USER. And I've seen directories rooted in other places: /homes, /export/home, /users, /net, ... In fact, a long long time ago, the standard location for home directories was /usr.

¹ For example Android (not a unix, but running on a Linux kernel) has a read-only root filesystem and a writable filesystem on /data.

share|improve this answer
and dont forget the original /usr for home directories – camh Nov 9 '10 at 22:52
@camh: I'm too young to have seen it, but yes, I might as well mention it. – Gilles Nov 9 '10 at 23:07
Yes, that's a decent explanation. The root file system on WebOS is indeed mounted as read-only in normal operation and must be remounted before one can modify system files. – Tomalak Nov 10 '10 at 8:04

I never seen that...

But you can place things more or less all over the place, I mean one user can be in /var/home/ another in /home/ and third in /partyplace/home/....

But it just don't make any sense to me, it's better to follow the convention that users data is stored under /home/

share|improve this answer
There are indications that this is not entirely unheard of. – Tomalak Nov 9 '10 at 11:15

/var might be on a different partition or disk.

share|improve this answer
Yes, I thought of that as well. In this case, it isn't - it's a smartphone and it all runs off a single flash memory module. – Tomalak Nov 10 '10 at 8:07
But home can also be on another partition as well... so this makes no sense. – Johan Nov 10 '10 at 8:08
@Johan: you might want to group things together; not just have home on another partition. – kasterma Nov 10 '10 at 14:06

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.