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I've order a dedicated server which will have 2x1TB hard disks. I'd like a little help though on how I should partition the disks.

Everything will be setup using software raid1 (mdadm) and all of the user data will reside in /home (this includes apache2 website files alongside everything else). I was thinking about something like the following:

  • 4MB bios_grub (since I'll be using a GPT)
  • 1GB /boot (just because - yes I know that it's too much)
  • 50GB / (this will include /usr as well)
  • 740GB /home
  • 50GB /var (logs, mails, others)
  • 150GB /var/lib/mysql (MySQL files)
  • 8GB swap

What do think? I may be assigning less space to /var/lib/mysql since we don't expect to have lot's of MySQL databases (I even think that 10GB will be more than enough for our needs).

What would you change and why?

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Consider using LVM - Logical Volume Management. It lets you manage the storage in a flexible way - online resizing of volumes and snapshots and else.

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  • You think so? I'd like to avoid that. I've tried using LVM on a desktop before and it wasn't the most pleasant experience. Had btrfs been more stable I'd go for btrfs and its subvolumes. Administration wise I find btrfs way easier to setup than LVM.
    – feugatos
    Mar 22 '13 at 12:13
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    LVM is definitely worth learning. Lot of people use it in the production and feels happy.
    – Gevial
    Mar 22 '13 at 12:31
  • I'd recommend staying away from it - I've seen too many systems with volume groups made up from odds and sodds scattered all over disks. And even if the performance problems for snapshots are fixed it still adds a significant overhead even on simple models.
    – symcbean
    Mar 22 '13 at 13:04
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I don't think it is any use to seperate /boot, /, /var. That kind of micro-partitionning was in the mood of the late 90's and early 2000's, but I really don't think it is still recommended.

I even feel like the /var/lib/mysql is superfluous, if you don't plan to put the database on a really different hard drive.

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I wouldn't bother with so many partitions, it's not necessary unless you're partitioning to separate disks. It's also possible it could cause headaches down the line if they become full.

Generally I use something like the following:

/boot - 1GB
/     - 5GB - 10GB
/data - Rest of disk
swap  - RAM X2

/boot and / are potentially oversized here but I prefer to have too much space than risk too little. If you're unsure though, check the docs for your distribution as they'll very likely offer recommended partitioning schemes.

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For a standalone server, using RAID1 makes some sense - although you might consider using independent (non-mirrored) swap partitions on the 2 disks. If you ever get into swapping you're just slowing the system down by writing to both disks. If it's likely that you'll have a disk failure at the same time that the system has run out of physical memory, then the really you need more RAM or less memory hungry config.

I disagree with Stephane that splitting your disk into different partitions is no longer necessary - it's a good way to protect your system from overflowing logs and partitioning reads / writes still brings performance benefits.

Using more partitions than you need seems sloppy - looking at your setup, I think it would be worth keeping /home on the same filesystem as /

I don't know anything about the applications it will run, but suspect that split between user content and database favours the former too much - but then again I work mostly with database-intensive stuff.

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