Seeking: Partioning advice

Two weeks ago, I ordered a new harddisk - a 1TB Samsung EcoGreen F1 DT - and yesterday I went to the post office to pick it up and brought it home and installed it. So now I have a brand new (and thus empty (there are only two kinds of harddisks, new or full)) harddisk with loads of space. But how do I manage all this space? Ie., how should the 1TB be partitioned? This is where I call on all of you fellow geeks out there to help me! :)

The purpose of the new harddisk is to...

  1. store media files (images, music/sounds, video).
  2. store backups (in addition to where I'm otherwise storing them).

I'm thinking one partition for all of it, or two partitions with one for the backups and one for the media. However, 500 GB (let alone 1TB) is pretty much to start off with in either case, so a requirement for the file system would be that it's able to shrink and expand. And since the smallest files (except for the odd ones out) are going to be a few MB, the file system should also be geared towards handling larger files.

Pretty much all my other file systems are ReiserFS (except for /boot, which is ext2), but from what I've heard ReiserFS is better for file systems with a lot of small files (due to its tail packing). XFS should be good for file systems with mostly larger files, but it isn't able to shrink its partitions (per Wikipedia), which might be needed later - esp. if I'm going for the two partitions.

Another thing I would like, is to have the (whole) disk encrypted - preferably with a USB key which should be available at boot, so I won't have to type in a passphrase on every boot. I've looked at TrueCrypt and loop-AES (apparently, the in-kernel dm-crypt is vulnerable/weak), and it looks and sounds like loop-AES is the way to go (apart from the weak dm-crypt in the Linux kernel, TrueCrypt is proprietary - so loop-AES also wins out in a contest of freedom). If anyone has any pointers or anything they want to say in this regard, it'd be most welcomed. :)


Preview comment | Leabharlann Freso

Hi, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar
one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses?

If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can advise?

I get so much lately it's driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

It reminds me, that I should

It reminds me, that I should also get a new external hard drive.

Thomas - tandlæge Nørrebro

on a related note

one can safely strike the "vulnerable" part from the dm-crypt part, they did their homework (courtesy of LUKS) since kernel 2.6.11 out-of-the-box, and it's an ongoing struggle for them. just check their FAQ @ for the ACK about security probs in the past, and their newsgroup available @ sometimes makes me cringe at the subject - one just doesn't expect things like that to happen on stable kernel series. still, you gotta watch your back when it comes to upgrading your system.

concerning ciphers, just stay away from blowfish. AES, twofish, serpent are ok to use.

regarding the partition question thing, i have some ideas, depending on your usage pattern. use ext3. you dont need the "benefits" of xfs on media / backup partitions.

- a) create the backup partition smartly - obvious thing to do, i know, but... think - what's your backup cycle, full or incremental,etc? i'd add 50% of the overall estimated backup space as margin. as plain filesystem space.

- b) adjust the reserved root filesystem space smartly on the media partition. (add the whole calculated backup partition space +50% as margin?), one can never have too much hd space.

- c) same thought pattern applied to the backup partition - think about size requirements, think about the hassle of resizing filesystems, think of ease of use of reserved fs blocks on an ext3 fs :)

whatever you plan going along with, keep us posted.

and good luck :)

No partitions for storage…

Well, as long as it's just storage, I'd recommend just having it as a single volume. The only use case for partitions is (in my opinion) operating systems, where they serve as some sort of primitive quota system, preventing /var from filling the entire disk and making your system unbootable :)

As for filesystems, XFS is really nice for large volumes. I prefer ZFS, but that's not really an option on Linux (and that is, in fact, one of the reasons I switched to FreeBSD) :)

Partition for permissions

One of the reasons I'm thinking of having two partitions, is to have one (the media one) be readable (perhaps (parts of it) writeable?) for all (or selected) users on the system, while the backup would only be accessible for my own user (or perhaps only root). The backup would also not need to mounted all the time and could be tucked away at the end of the disk and shrunk/expanded as needed, while the media one could slowly be expanded upwards towards taking up most of the disk. This would make the seeking for media files not being cluttered by having to mingle with backup files, and vice versa, and would keep the backup files less prone to being corrupted, simply by not being accessible as often as the media files.

And XFS doesn't support file system shrinking. :/

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