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Since this is Linux, you are not tied down to the typical ideas about disc space. Remember you have the ability to mount any partition (other than root) to any directory you choose within the root directory tree. It may just be easier to mount a partition where you need the space. For example, I needed extra space for my Torrents directory so I could help seed more Linux distrobutions. I just partitioned 60 GB off my external hard drive. I then set it up to be mounted at boot to /home/jeelliso/.azureus/torrents so my computer thinks this folder is 60 GB big.
Good insight imagineers7, I always wondered why I could not resize my ext3 partitions.[/edit]
There are a couple of ways to procede. First, do you WANT to setup LVM now? Since you mentioned the fact that you didn't use it, that sounds like (1) You didn't know about it when you initially setup your system, and now wish you had, or (2) You consciously avoided it initially, and still wish you have nothing to do with it.
It will take a bit more work to setup LVM now, but it can be done. That would be my recommendation. In my experience, the people who don't use LVM have not run out of space yet, or they are unaware of what LVM can do. Once you've run yourself out of space like you have, you probably don't want to repeat the fiasco, and are more inclined to learn LVM. LVM adds some complexity (I think it's easy, personally), and this may not be desireable. If your system stays pretty constant and you can easily predict in advance where you'll need space (can that utopia ever be reached?) then LVM might be overkill for you.
BTW, you can easily get out of your predicament with or without LVM. LVM will just make it much easier NEXT time (there shouldn't be a next time basically), but at the expense of a little more work THIS time. Post #3 by jeelliso is the ticket if you want a non-LVM solution. Don't mess with resize2fs - that won't help you in your current situation (your disk is already full - nowhere to even consider resizing to!)
Good insight imagineers7, I always wondered why I could not resize my ext3 partitions.
I've resized my ext3 partitions many many times on several different systems. I don't see the problem that's being alluded to. I've never had to drop a journal. In the case of expanding the size of an ext3 filesystem, first you have to increase the size of the underlying disk storage (trivially easy with LVM, often difficult without). Journaling is left in place. An ext3 filesystem must be unmounted before you can resize it.
Yes, unionfs is nice. I use it frequently to "modify" iso's before burning them.
Your existing /data/mail directory on hdc could be renamed to /data/.mail_orig. You could then create a new directory on hdd named /data2/.mail_new. Create a union of .mail_orig (readonly) and .mail_new (readwrite), and mount the union on hdc:/data/mail. You then do all your access through this new /data/mail unionfs directory, which looks just like your original directory, except with more space. If you try to modify a file that already exists on .mail_orig (readonly), it is auto-magically moved over to .mail_new for you. If you delete an existing file from .mail_orig, it is not really deleted (readonly), rather it is "whited-out" over on .mail_new so it appears deleted when viewed through the /data/mail unionfs directory. Really slick.
You never touch .mail_orig or .mail_new directly (you can, but probably don't want to for this scenerio). That's why I showed naming them with a leading dot to make them hidden directories.