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I'd like to get best-practice advice on how to setup a scheme where 250 users or more have OS independent access to their own data-dir / user-dir on a central server in the local network. from the server's perspective:

  • Would you set up a big /users dir on the server with subdirs for each user with quota, on one big partition (underlying fat storage, of course)?

  • Or would you setup a dedicated partition for each user living in a big ZFS, LVM disk pool?

Dirs would be shared over the network via SAMBA, NFS or probably WebDAV, HBA, aoE - not fully knowing what the latter do to the permission case...

What are the pros and cons of "dedicated partition" vs "permission based shared partition"? What's best practice today?

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migrated from superuser.com Jan 12 '12 at 14:49

This question came from our site for computer enthusiasts and power users.

Depends how details you want to do in. In my place we've just got a "Staff" Folder with everybody's home dirs in that, although you could have staff/admin, staff/finance, staff/developers, staff/sales, for example, but for 250 users that's probably overkill. This maybe better suited to ServerFault, don't repost it though, the community will decide to migrate or not. –  tombull89 Jan 12 '12 at 14:31
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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted


Cons: Partition based allocation would be extremely cumbersome in all cases creating new users,deleting and migrating to other machines.

A better solution would be to use nfs with quotas.

Pros: easier to manage , increase allocation etc.

In case you choose to not go with NFS you can have individual home directories in seperate files


dd if=/dev/zero of=user-A bs=1024 count=1000000

This creates a 1G file user-A which will be used for A's network directory

root@x:/tmp# mkfs.ext3 user-A 
mke2fs 1.41.14 (22-Dec-2010)
user-A is not a block special device.
Proceed anyway? (y,n) y


root@x:/tmp# mkdir users/user-A

root@x:/tmp# mount user-A users/user-A -o loop
root@x:/tmp# df users/user-A/

mount this.

Pros: easier to add/delete users,migrate between disks/servers

Cons: changing size of directories,

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Interesting 3rd way of doing it: all in a file! (didn't think of that). Like a poor-man's partition volume abstraction, simple and elegant! Agreeing that it imposes volume shink/grow admin overhead. And still, I am having a hard time learning that it's good to dedicate a full partition to one user (neglecting all the permission/user mechanisms a filesystem itself offers), compare: serverfault.com/a/340583/102280 –  isync Jan 12 '12 at 15:49
I dont think dedicating a partition per user has any tangible benefits . –  daya Jan 12 '12 at 16:34
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