One or Four?

Chuck Swiger cswiger at
Sat Feb 18 01:14:04 UTC 2012

On Feb 17, 2012, at 4:10 PM, Robison, Dave wrote:
> On 02/17/2012 15:55, Chuck Swiger wrote:
>> Yes.  It works as intended even when /tmp is part of a single root partition; although mounting /tmp as a RAM- or swap-based tmpfs filesystem might be better for many situations.
> Sure it has its uses, but now you're jumping into new territory where the installer has to either ask the user to create tmpfs or make the decision to do it on its own.

That's right.  I don't advocate using tmpfs for /tmp under all circumstances, but it is a reasonable choice for some situations, and it would be nice if FreeBSD-9's shiny new installer provided am option to set that up.

> As has been stated, this is fine if sufficient RAM is available. Personally I don't like using RAM for tmp.


>>> Making this world-writable bucket part of "/" seems silly both for Desktops and Servers alike.
>> You're welcome to your opinion.  However, I suspect you're expecting FreeBSD systems to always be partitioned and administered by knowledgeable BSD Unix sysadmins, and those are not always so readily available as one might assume.
> I'm not sure why someone has to be knowledgeable to select a particular partitioning scheme.

Um, because a novice user just going with the default partitioning scheme (whatever that might be) or guessing random values isn't likely to achieve better results than someone knowledgeable making an informed decision about how to partition a disk?

> Is it better for a novice to have one big / to fill up as opposed to a separate /var or /tmp?

That doesn't have a single, simple answer.

It may be better to have a single root partition, for which they can notice and understand their disk usage by a single value, compared to having them need to understand df and multiple filesystems mounted as a tree, rather than separate devices (aka Windows disk letters).  :-(

>>> b. A nuisance
>>> As "Da Rock" points out, ... recovering your system from a
>>> file-system-full-event when using "single-/" is just as difficult regardless of
>>> Desktop versus Server. Having "/tmp" alleviates the difficulty.
>> It would if /tmp was mounted on a disk partition, and if it also happened to be where space was being consumed.  /var/log and /home tend to be more likely locations in my experience, but YMMV.
> Actually, in my experience I have huge problems with users misusing /tmp as a holding spot for all manner of files. I like keeping /tmp separate and smallish to discourage its use for everyday transfers. Those things belong in a users home directory, not in /tmp.

It sounds like these users want some kind of shared folder with relatively open permissions, and I've seen plenty of small office / collaborative environments where such a thing would be of value.

>> However, for whatever reasons, the overwhelming majority of folks using MacOS X don't have problems using a single root partition, and while they sometimes do fill up their disks, that's a situation which they should be able to recover from without needing expert assistance.  I don't recall having unusual issues in running a partition out of space under FreeBSD, either, or difficulty fixing things afterwards-- but such doesn't happen very often if you monitor your systems properly, and have time to respond to "low-space" conditions before they turn into "out of space" conditions.
> Previously you said that knowledgeable unix admins aren't as common as might be thought... now you're making the assumption that these same novice users will monitor their systems properly for low-space conditions.

Oh, no-- I don't assume that most users will notice and fix a "low-space" condition beforehand-- I was speaking of what I do, although it hopefully also describes other managed environments.

It doesn't describe what end-user support folks [1] generally have to deal with.

> However this is all superfluous conversation if the installer gives each user a variety of options. You can select your "one big partition" scheme or go with multiple partitions depending on your preference, and from what I've read so far, this seems to be not only a reasonable idea, but also one which many people would prefer.

Having the FreeBSD installer provide a reasonable set of options which include the traditional FreeBSD partition layout and a single root partition would likely be better than the current state.


[1] Apple Retail calls them "geniuses"....

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