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Old 08-17-2008, 11:39 AM   #1
Odyssey1942
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/home on a networked drive?


I now have two Ubuntu computers running on the same network and can see that file syncronization is going to become an issue, so I am thinking of moving my /home from the older of the two (new one hasn't been used yet other than beginning configuration) to a file server setup so that both linux computers can access the same files.

So I have these questions. I would like to use a Cavalry 1 TB ethernet connected RAID enclosure that I have just ordered to contain the /home directory. In principle, is there any conceptual problems with this? If none, does one just partition the Cavalry and format one partition for Ext3 to use for /home? The remainder of the Cavalry will be for Windoze files.

Once a suitable file server location is established, how does one transfer /home to the new location? (My current /home resides in its own partition.)

TIA
 
Old 08-17-2008, 12:17 PM   #2
mjmwired
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I would recommend that whatever hosts your '/home' directory is fully compatible with NFS. This should allow any linux to mount the directory. Then the only reliable way to transfer your files would be using 'rsync'. I guess your network storage device most likely should be running some sort of Linux otherwise you may have some problems.

I have done this with an actual server, but generally speaking I find network storage devices a little troublesome to work with.
 
Old 08-17-2008, 03:44 PM   #3
Odyssey1942
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What about just linking the new machine to the /home of the old so that the new machine uses it as it's own /home?
 
Old 08-17-2008, 04:24 PM   #4
mjmwired
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That will work perfectly fine. Just install the NFS server on your old machine.
While you are doing that also look into NIS for network authentication. I haven't done this in a while, but it makes sense to have 1 machine for authentication as well.
 
Old 08-18-2008, 05:34 PM   #5
Odyssey1942
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MJMWired,

Thinking further about this, it is probably the right time to jump up a level or two and examine the objectives.

I use my computers for the following in roughly this order of frequency:
Browsing
Email
music listening (both internet streaming and mp3's on hdd)
document processing (formatted and text)
spreadsheets
forum activity for problem solving

I use a Windoze computer in addtion to the linux (now two linux), and my wife uses a windoze computer mainly and an Apple (banking and bill paying). Her computer use will be basically the same as mine except she sometimes watches TV on hers and does not use forums much.

I have extensive files and bookmarks going back several years, well classified and structured so that things are relatively easy to find. I would like to have all of this information in one place so that we can reach it from any computer (linux or windoze) in our lan. My first thought was to put it all on a NAS device, but assuming it can be impemented, it could be on any one of the computers and I'll just backup to the NAS.

Given this additional information, what do you recommend and why?

Would this change if I threw remote access over the Internet into consideration?

TIA
 
Old 08-18-2008, 06:39 PM   #6
IsaacKuo
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I would recommend you take some time to split apart all of your carefully organized data between that which needs to be in /home to be functional and that which can be placed in a generic "data" folder. An example of something which needs to be in /home would be Firefox bookmarks. An example of something which does not would be an mp3 collection.

Put everything you can into that generic "data" folder, and put this on the network. That should leave your /home folder much smaller and leaner.

For things like your Firefox bookmarks, you have a number of different options. My personal preference is to keep always keep /home on the OS drive and keep it small. The few files which need to be in /home are ones which I will manually make occasional backups to the network drive.
 
Old 08-18-2008, 07:45 PM   #7
Odyssey1942
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Very good counsel which gives rise to two questions, one is how to determine which files need to be in /home? You mentioned foxmarks, which I might have naturally chosen for /home although I can't tell you why. What rules apply?

I would assume that all mp3's, doc, txt and spreadsheet files could be in the common directory, but the next question might impact on this assumption.

The other is how to structure the common directory? Since the majority of these files were created over the years in Windoze and now exist in NTFS formatted hdd's. So disregarding where the files for the common directory will be, what is the ideal format given that they might be accessed by both linux and windoze (and possibly even OS X on occasion)? Having reached an answer to this, the "Where" can be considered.
 
Old 08-18-2008, 07:55 PM   #8
mjmwired
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My personal opinion: I would build/purchase a low power celeron or via based headless computer as your server. I'd put CentOS on it. With a fast SATA drive and Gbit ethernet.

Run Samba (you can even make it a PDC) for file sharing with Windows and NFS for /home sharing on Linux. Also use some sort of authentication (NIS, Kerberos, etc.).

As for data sharing, it doesn't really matter where you put it on your server, you would just have to manage your shares effectively.

If you want to take it further you can get a dyndns account and setup SSH and Apache and setup things like webdav for document sharing and bookmark/calendar syncing.

Just make sure you pick a long term support distro like CentOS or UbuntuLTS. And have a dedicated computer as your server with NO desktop activity - it makes it much easier. This seems like a lot of work, but once setup it will last for an incredibly long time.

Btw, I have the above setup and it works out great for me.
 
Old 08-18-2008, 08:03 PM   #9
IsaacKuo
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If you don't know whether it needs to be in /home, then it doesn't need to be there. The only files which NEED to be in /home are the ones with hardcoded paths. These will typically be in hidden directories or files--these start with ".". For example, Firefox stores its bookmarks in "~/.mozilla/firefox/vde75425/bookmarks.html". (Unhelpfully, there's this weird unique profile folder name stuck in there, rather than a single standard location name.)

The way you choose to organize your files is up to you.

If you don't know what type of partition to use, use ext3. I'd personally put it on a dedicated file server running Linux, but assuming you don't want to "waste" an entire computer, simply decide on one of the Linux computers which will be left on 24/7. You'll want to install samba and an nfs server if they're not already installed.

Ext3 is a nice generic file system with no particular limitations. If for some reason your OS is messed up, you can easily access it with by booting up any Linux liveCD.
 
Old 08-18-2008, 10:06 PM   #10
Odyssey1942
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My thanks to you both for the good guidance. I can see my next project coming up which will first necessitate a lot of reading about CentOS, Samba, PDC, and authentication. I have a couple of older computers in the closet one of which will probably make a good file server.

In the meantime, I will transfer my files from the desktop of the older computer to the new one and use it as a mini-server for the two linux computers, probably upgrading the older one to 8.04 also. Is there a stongly preferred method of doing such a transfer, taking into account the existing user permissions that now attach to the files? I assume that one does not just copy?
 
Old 08-18-2008, 10:17 PM   #11
mjmwired
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You can copy (there are flags to preserve permissions), but the recommended method is to use 'rsync'.
 
  


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