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What would be a good partitioning scheme for an Arch Linux installation, on a server and on a laptop?

My current basic scheme:

/         [root]       ext4
/home                  ext4
swap

I know that the /var partition will contain many small files such as logs or pacman-related files, and the /tmp directory will be written to frequently as well.

1) Would I benefit from separate "/var" and/or "/tmp" partitions?

2) If so, what filesystems would you recommend on each of these partitions?

3) Is there a difference between the home server and the laptop? Should they have different partitioning schemes?

  • The home server's system will be installed on a 80GB hard drive (it has an unrelated second 500GB HD).
  • The laptop's system will be installed in a single 500GB hard drive, and the plan is to dedicate the remaining space to the /home partition.

4) How much space do you recommend dedicating to each partition (including root, and possibly /var & /tmp) on each system (server/laptop)? [note: I will be using LVM on both systems]


Some extra information: The server will run samba/rtorrent/ssh/LAMP/etc. and some backup mechanism. The laptop will be used as a PC, mainly internet & programming or other day-to-day software, but might run some servers for testing purposes (e.g LAMP).

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  • Do your systems have UEFI?
    – mattia.b89
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 22:28

1 Answer 1

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I've never understood the point of a separate /var partition in typical circumstances. On a special-purpose server, it might make sense to make some part of /var a different partition, e.g. separate /var/mail on a mail server, but otherwise just do the simple thing with 3 partitions: OS (/), data (/home) and swap.

Your own data should be in /home; for example your web root should be under /home (use symbolic links if necessary). This division has two major advantages:

  • If you every want to reinstall the system, wipe the OS partition and retain the /home partition.
  • Back up /home profusely. The OS partition can mostly be recovered by reinstalling as a last resort; the nonrecoverable bits are /etc and selected parts of /var, which you can do by rsyncing to a directory under /home and relying on the backups of /home.

Note that Grub legacy cannot boot from a LVM volume; you need Grub2 (or to go through the hassle of a separate /boot partition).

Make /tmp a tmpfs filesystem (i.e. stored in virtual memory). See here for a write-up if Arch Linux doesn't do it by default.

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  • Separate /var makes sense if you want a read-only /. (That is not en easy thing to do because in most distributions the /etc/init.d scripts or the services want to write there.)
    – stribika
    Commented Jul 21, 2011 at 18:15

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