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Old 08-25-2005, 12:37 PM   #1
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Registered: Aug 2005
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Question Linux, oh Linux, let me find you a home

I am both a newbie and not a newbie. Relative to someone who's never seen the CLI, I know quite a bit -- that is to say, I know just enough to get me into trouble. That being said, I apologize in advance if this thread ranges far-afield.

The Problem:
I plan on installing several distros across numerous partitions and 2 hds. I have moderately old computer (P4), and both of the hds will be approximately 20Gs. Don't worry about saving Windows (shudder). I'm a MacHead, so the very idea of Windows is anathema to me.

My questions relate primarily to how to partition the hds -- what can be shared and what cannot.

I already have decided not to share a /home partition amongst the various distros. (I thank mugstar in another post for that
ln -s /data
idea). Instead, I can't find much info about sharing other partitions.

1. Can I share partitions like /tmp and /var, which seem to me just to fill with logging info or temporary crud you don't necessarily need or want to hold onto? I'm not running a web-server or anything, so I can't see a real reason for an isolated or complicated /var.

2. A tricker and confusing bit: can you share /usr or /usr/local? Now, I realize that this is just shear lunacy and heresy to some, but I don't really understand why a number of distro's can't share some common /usr or /usr/local space (they're all using the same programs, right?, only the individual .config files would change per /home distro, right?)

3. I know /swap can be shared, and I plan on doing just that -- on the outer partitions of the slave drive so that it runs a little faster (I read that somewhere, so correct me if I'm wrong). If I can share /tmp or /var, can I put those near /swap as well, since they're probably not filled with a huge amount of really important info? I realize that if /usr or /usr/local gets its own partition, it should be relatively large and located on the master drive -- that just makes more logical sense to me.

Ok, that was most of the abstract partition business. Now, down to the /boot partition. What exactly is in the /boot partition, anyway? The kernel ... the boot loader ... the MBR ... what? If it's the kernel, can that be shared across multiple distros? (because that would be both nifty and possibly weird)

Before I go any further, let me lay out my current partition plan (this is given that I'm uncertain about that whole /tmp /var /usr /usr/local business)
hda1 =>  /boot    /*  yes?  */
hda2 =>  /Gentoo
hda3 =>  /Fedora4 
hda4 =>  /Suse10   /* in a month or so */
hda5 =>  /data   /* storing all my shared files  */

hdb1 =>  /FreeBSD5   
/*  does this complicate things 
inordinately?  I read that GRUB should 
point to FreeBSD on the othe drive, and 
while I'm entirely unsure of how that 
works, I might be able to figure it out 
(any help would be greadly appreciated).  */
hdb2 =>  /Darwin8   /*  What can I say? I'm a mac fan */
hdb3 =>  /minix2    
/*  all these distros are 
really just so that I can learn 
about the underlying operating 
systems and their concepts   */
hdb4 =>  /var
hdb5 =>  /tmp
hdb6 =>  /swap
Is this reasonable, or am I just crazy for wanting to experiment so much?

On a related note, I want to know how to set the UID and GID during install (per distro info, if that's necessary, would be great) or resetting them after install (if that's even possible). What are reasonable UIDs and GIDs by the way? I'm not sure what I should change them to even if I have the chance to set them.

Oh, and what about a reiserfs file system for the whole thing? I've read that it's pretty good. Also, can I use reiserfs with the /boot partition, or must I use ext2?

Is this whole plan reasonable, or am I just trying to drown myself in distros?

All answers or suggestions are immensely apprectiated!
Old 08-25-2005, 01:19 PM   #2
Registered: Apr 2002
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Hi, and welcome to LQ!

That's a bit of an odd approach as far as I'm concerned. ONE of the
things that could be easily shared between two or more distros (/home)
you have ruled out. /tmp is trivial (well, some distros wipe it on boot,
other don't, you may be in for an odd surprise ;}). For /usr and /var
I'd definitely stay clean of sharing for more than one reason. They
may use libraries compiled against different versions of libc. Different
distros will quite likely use different owners for different daemons,
thus ownerships in /var may vary.

Old 08-25-2005, 02:38 PM   #3
Ike M.
Registered: Aug 2005
Posts: 60

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Sharing directories in this way (with the exception of your temporary partition) comes ill-advised as you would be risking [at the very LEAST] crashing whatever distribution you happen to be running, not to even mention irretrievable loss of data (in some cases, information that any particular distro needs to be able to ASSUME is PERMANENT until it erases it ITSELF, could be erased inadvertantly if you start doing this. Unfortunately...)
Old 08-25-2005, 03:15 PM   #4
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: France, Provence
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 848

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Nice thought, though : One kernel to rule them all
And in the Darkness, bind them !



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