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Old 16th October 2009
Greg_Morgan Greg_Morgan is offline
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Default Hard disk utilization

Hi.

I am a newbie to Unix like Operating Systems.

I recently installed a BSD operating system on my home PC. I did a calculation of my effective hard disk utilization as a percentage. I was unhappy to see that I am averaging only 46.67% utilization while using a very lean operating system.

I seek your advice to remedy this situation.


Please note:
I understand that it is not an OS problem. I am not bashing the OS.
I sincerely appreciate the developers for having created a wonderful product.
I am amazed by their magnanimity to give away such an elegant product. Their work of art is a gem of engineering. I wish I could design & develop so well.

I think that there are only two components to my observation:
a) green horn admin (me ;-)) resulting in improper distribution & real estate waste
b) bogus metric or incorrect formula

My questions are these:
a) Is this utilization amount normal?(ie.) Do most users of this forum see numbers in this range (range being +/- 2%) ?

b) How do I interpret this metric?
Is this metric telling me that I have reached rock bottom and that henceforth my utilization % will ONLY increase when I add
more disk space as there is NO proportional increase in setup (setup=kernel + apps + base infrastructure)

example:
if I add a 20 GB hard disk say 20GB and if I allocate
10GB for /app_data and 10 for /home then, my utilization will bump to > 47%?
and that this utilization % will increase as I add more hard disk space.

c) Is my calculation reasonable or should I be using a different formula or tangible metric to evaluate my utilization of this computer?

d) Are my partition slices reasonable?
(asked another way)
Are my partition slices way off, grossly inefficient due to my ignorance of Unix-like OS? I am not trying to carve things to the nearest MB.

Am I to infer that I need to be tracking utilization percentages (via df -h) over a period of 1-2 years and then craft the partition sizes so there is lesser wastage?

e) Would you recommend that I use a volume manager instead of using hard slices as I have got it now?

Details of the machine and its intended usage:
Desktop PC with 75GB HDD, 1GB RAM.
I plan to use this computer as a home desktop.
I intend to install subversion (to store my digital files like photos, documents etc.), gnucash & other popular desktop apps.

I made these partitions. No dual booting. Computer dedicated to BSD.
My partitions (aka slices) are:

/ : 0.5 GB
swap : 2.0 GB
/altroot : 0.5 GB
/var : 2.0 GB
/tmp : 1.0 GB
/usr : 6.0 GB
/app_data: 25.0 GB
/home : 35.0 GB
/freearea: 3.0 GB

The slice /app_data will hold all data files that are controlled by the app. For example, the SVN repositories will be here but a dump of those repositories will be in /home. I plan to backup /home regularly. If I have a hard disk crash or corruption, I can re-install OS & apps and then restore my data from backup.

/freearea is primarily to handle filesystem full situations. At other times, It will be used to build userland, ports & X (as /var & /tmp have noexec)

Currently I am losing a lot of space as I have the same data in two different formats (in /app_data & dump form in /home).

Would you recommend that I do things differently?

Thanks.
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Old 16th October 2009
ocicat ocicat is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_Morgan View Post
I was unhappy to see that I am averaging only 46.67% utilization while using a very lean operating system.
The conflict anyone has in partitioning disk(s) is knowing the needs & allowing enough "extra" space to handle unforeseen situations. No where are situations as unforeseen as when desktop systems are considered.

While higher utilization may be achieved in single-purpose systems (ie. DNS servers), note that if partitions are too small, service may be disrupted -- which many might see as being a more dire consequence than whether the disks involved were under-utilized. This point is only underscored more when disk prices are considered. Relative to everything else, disk space is cheap.
Quote:
I seek your advice to remedy this situation.
jggimi gives excellent advice in this area to newbies -- create one big partition for everything until enough experience is gained to understand how partitioning should be done. Implicitly, this factors in two important points:
  • Don't expect any one partitioning scheme used to be your last. If you learn from your own experience, you will be tweaking partition sizes for a long time as you try new ideas, & your needs change.
  • How you use a system will be different from anyone else's -- so it is difficult, if not impossible for anyone to make recommendations as to what is "perfect". As long as your system isn't crashing, you can't be failing too badly, & even if your system does run out of space, figure out the cause & mark it off as experience.
You may feel that you are past the "one big partition" scenario, & that may be alright.
Quote:
Details of the machine and its intended usage:
Desktop PC with 75GB HDD, 1GB RAM.
...
My partitions (aka slices) are:

/ : 0.5 GB
swap : 2.0 GB
/altroot : 0.5 GB
/var : 2.0 GB
/tmp : 1.0 GB
/usr : 6.0 GB
/app_data: 25.0 GB
/home : 35.0 GB
/freearea: 3.0 GB
This doesn't seem too extravagant, but only you know how the system is currently being used or may be used in the future.
Quote:
I plan to backup /home regularly.
Personally, having a back-up plan is far more important than dwelling on partitioning schemes.
Quote:
Would you recommend that I do things differently?
The only heuristic which seems to endure is that swap should be 2x the amount of installed memory along with throwing in an additional megabyte for debugging structures. Again, this is merely a crude heuristic. People can bicker about whether this is too much or too little space to allocate simply for swap, & they will. Nevertheless, if you were interested in debugging a crash, this would be sufficient space to do so. However, I don't do this on all my systems because of resource constraints. It's a trade-off I accept.

Lastly, you might consider chrooting your repository for both security & separation reasons, but it is not a necessity. Again, it all depends upon your usage & your goals.

Although already said, don't get caught up into numbers too soon. Although Knuth meant this in a different context, "premature optimization is the root of all evil" applies here as well. Don't discount the importance of experience, nor the investment of time required to gain it. Go ahead. Make decisions from your best guess, accept that mistakes will be made, & learn from them.
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Old 16th October 2009
Greg_Morgan Greg_Morgan is offline
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ocicat,

Thanks for your feedback.

For now, I will continue with this arrangement (and "get" some experience.:-))

Thanks again for your encouraging words.
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Old 16th October 2009
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jggimi jggimi is offline
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Greg,

There are values to having a partitioning schema. Typically, these are:
  • Security: nodev, nosuid, read-only, or other filesystem mounting options
  • Damage containment: filesystem problems, such as filesystem full or filesystem corrupt -- might allow unaffected applications to continue.
Most new-to-Unix-like-systems admins spend a great deal of time attempting to perfect their filesystem configurations. This is usually a waste of time; every situation is unique to the OS and its particular usage. As ocicat mentioned, I recommend new admins start with a single filesystem until their configurations stabilize. I even recommend that for experienced admins who are provisioning new systems.

I have systems with many partitions, but I also have a personal laptop with a single large partition, less some swap space. On that laptop, the benefits of partitioning are not outweighed by the flexibility I require for my varying application usage on that platform.
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