Store personal files using separate partition (fstab)

Storing personal files on different partition

Some Linux users like to experiment with their system and more often than not it leads to the decision of reinstalling the system. That repeatedly creates the issue on how to handle the home folder with configurations and personal files.

The purpose of this document is to create an easy and convenient way of safeguarding personal data files while retaining the home folder.

Preparation

http://www.pathname.com/fhs/pub/fhs-2.3.html#INTRODUCTION states

The FHS document has a limited scope:
Local placement of local files is a local issue, so FHS does not attempt to usurp system administrators.
FHS addresses issues where file placements need to be coordinated between multiple parties such as local sites, distributions, applications, documentation, etc.

So for the sake of this HowTo there is no standard as we are talking about

Local placement of local files is a local issue.

Your system would ideally have two disks but if that is not possible - laptops come to mind - then a system with at least three partitions or more will suffice.

  1. EFI System Partition (ESP)
  2. Root with home
  3. User data

Setting up the partition for single user

Assuming you are the only user on the system, proceed to create a folder in your home e.g. Data and mount the extra partition there.

$ mkdir ~/Data

The simple and preferred method is to use the Gnome Disk Utility and modify the mount options so the partition mounts at boot time in the Data folder.

If the system is a multi-user system the approach is different and is discussed here.

Create the mount script

When done and the partition mounts at boot, create a folder in the data folder.

$ mkdir ~/Data/scripts

Copy your /etc/fstab to the scripts folder

$ cp /etc/fstab ~/Data/scripts/fstab.txt

Edit the file fstab.txt and remove everything except the line which mounts your data partition.

Proceed with creating a script in the scripts folder and make it executable

$ touch ~/Data/scripts/20-mod-fstab
$ chmod +x ~/Data/scripts/20-mod-fstab

Edit the script file and paste the following content into it

#!/bin/bash
scriptdir=${PWD}
protected=$(grep 'PROTECT' /etc/fstab)
if ! [[ -z $protected ]]; then
    echo ""
    echo "Already modified! exit ..."
    exit
fi
echo "Modifying a copy of /etc/fstab -> ${scriptdir}/fstab.org ..."
cp /etc/fstab ${scriptdir}/fstab.org
echo "# PROTECTION against double merge" >> ${scriptdir}/fstab.org
echo "Merging `fstab.txt` into `fstab.org`"
cat ${scriptdir}/fstab.txt >> ${scriptdir}/fstab.org
echo "Using sudo: Replacing /etc/fstab ..."
sudo mv -bi ${scriptdir}/fstab.org /etc/fstab
sudo chown root:root /etc/fstab
echo "Using sudo: Mounting /etc/fstab"
sudo mount -a
echo "Done!"

This script is a convenience script to be used when ever you have reinstalled your system and you you need to re-establish the mount point. The script expects the mount folder to be present.

Link your data

Depending in the folders you want to control you must ceate a symbolic link in your home to the new location.

Create a new .home folder in your Data folder

$ mkdir ~/Data/.home

Decide which folders you want to control and create a new file in your ~/Data/scripts folder and make it executable

$ touch ~/Data/scripts/30-link-data
$ chmod +x ~/Data/scripts/30-link-data

Edit the file and and paste the following content into it. Modify the script to match your system and the folders you want to control and save the file. If want bulletproof folder structure consider the information here

#!/bin/bash
echo "Moving and linking folders"
cd ~

# moving and linking documents
mv -i Documents ~/Data/.home
ln -s ~/Data/.home/Documents

# moving and linking downloads
mv -i Downloads ~/Data/.home
ln -s ~/Data/.home/Downloads

# moving and linking music
mv -i Music ~/Data/.home
ln -s ~/Data/.home/Music

# moving and linking pictures
mv -i Pictures ~/Data/.home
ln -s ~/Data/.home/Pictures

# moving and linking virtualbox vm's
mv -i VirtualBox\ VMs ~/Data/.home
ln -s ~/Data/.home/VirtualBox\ VMs

The script is designed to be run on your home folder or a newly created home where no files has yet been saved.

A simple safeguard exist so you must verify the moving of the folders - if they exist.

Data structure

Create a new file in your ~/Data/scripts folder and make it executable

$ touch ~/Data/scripts/10-create-data-structure
$ chmod +x ~/Data/scripts/10-create-data-structure

Edit the file and paste the following content into it. Modify the script to match your system and save the file.

#!/bin/bash
datadir="/home/$USER/Data"
echo "Creating Data mount structure"
mkdir -p ${datadir}

The script is used to create your desired data structure. Add what you deem necessary.

Conclusion

You have now created three scripts and a text file which can be used whenever you have reinstalled your system.

Just run the scripts in sequence 10- 20- 30- and your data is mounted, linked and available - all within minutes.

The scripts folder can be copied to a USB stick and run from it or be kept in the data partition and run from there.

Reference files

mounting details
/data/private/scripts >>> cat fstab.txt                                         

UUID=456bf27c-7e14-48b4-9df8-a49254dcf79e /data/projects   ext4 defaults,noatime 0 2
UUID=899b1bc4-219c-4b92-8539-0aa118d9780a /data/build      ext4 defaults,noatime 0 2
UUID=1f3d1a6e-b4b5-46da-909a-8a87a45dd18b /data/private    ext4 defaults,noatime 0 2
#UUID=67f922cd-a61f-4d5e-84c0-ac8335a7ce67 /data/virtualbox ext4 defaults,noatime 0 2
UUID=a27d7c58-0ebb-4c93-bcec-f9387f7d34f6 /data/virtualbox ext4 defaults,noatime 0 2
#UUID=b925148a-0729-447a-ad95-4d9e27dcb442 /data/usb/seagate ext4 defaults,noatime 0 2

tmpfs   /var/spool tmpfs   defaults,noatime,mode=1777   0  0
tmpfs   /var/tmp   tmpfs   defaults,noatime,mode=1777   0  0

diskstation:/volume1/data   /data/nfs/data  nfs auto,x-systemd.automount,x-systemd.device-timeout=10,timeo=14,x-systemd.idle-timeout=1min 0 0
diskstation:/volume1/music  /data/nfs/music nfs auto,x-systemd.automount,x-systemd.device-timeout=10,timeo=14,x-systemd.idle-timeout=1min 0 0
diskstation:/volume1/photo  /data/nfs/photo nfs auto,x-systemd.automount,x-systemd.device-timeout=10,timeo=14,x-systemd.idle-timeout=1min 0 0
diskstation:/volume1/video  /data/nfs/video nfs auto,x-systemd.automount,x-systemd.device-timeout=10,timeo=14,x-systemd.idle-timeout=1min 0 0
diskstation:/volume1/web    /data/nfs/web   nfs auto,x-systemd.automount,x-systemd.device-timeout=10,timeo=14,x-systemd.idle-timeout=1min 0 0
10-net-services
/data/private/scripts >>> cat 10-net-services                                                                                                                   
#!/bin/bash
echo "Using sudo ..."
echo "Start and enable nfs-client.target"
sudo systemctl enable --now nfs-client.target
sudo systemctl enable --now NetworkManager-wait-online.service
20-create-data-structure
/data/private/scripts >>> cat 20-create-data-structure                                                                                                          
#!/bin/bash
datadir="/data/"
echo "Creating Data mount structure"
sudo mkdir ${datadir}
sudo mkdir ${datadir}/nfs
sudo mkdir ${datadir}/build
sudo mkdir ${datadir}/private
sudo mkdir ${datadir}/projects
sudo mkdir ${datadir}/virtualbox
sudo chown $USER ${datadir}/nfs \
                 ${datadir}/build \
                 ${datadir}/private \
                 ${datadir}/projects \
                 ${datadir}/virtualbox
mkdir ${datadir}/nfs/data \
      ${datadir}/nfs/music \
      ${datadir}/nfs/photo \
      ${datadir}/nfs/video \
      ${datadir}/nfs/web
30-mod-fstab
/data/private/scripts >>> cat 30-mod-fstab                                                                                                                      
#!/bin/bash
echo "Modifying a copy of /etc/fstab..."
workdir=${PWD}
protected=$(grep 'PROTECT' /etc/fstab)
if ! [[ -z $protected ]]; then
    echo ""
    echo "Already modified! exit ..."
    exit
fi
cp /etc/fstab ${workdir}/fstab.org
echo "# PROTECTION against double merge" >> ${workdir}/fstab.org
echo "Merging 'fstab.txt' with 'fstab.org'"
cat ${workdir}/fstab.txt >> ${workdir}/fstab.org
echo "Using sudo: Replacing /etc/fstab..."
sudo mv ${workdir}/fstab.org /etc/fstab
sudo chown root:root /etc/fstab
echo "Using sudo: Mounting /etc/fstab"
sudo mount -a
echo "Done!"
40-link-data
/data/private/scripts >>> cat 40-link-data                                                                                                                      
#!/bin/bash
cd ~

#linking root data folder
ln -s /data ~/Data

echo "Linking Documents folder..."
rm -rf Documents
ln -sf /data/private/.home/Documents

echo "Linking Downloads folder..."
rm -rf Downloads
ln -sf /data/private/.home/Downloads

echo "Linking Music folder..."
rm -rf Music
ln -sf /data/private/.home/Music

echo "Linking Pictures folder..."
rm -rf Pictures
ln -sf /data/private/.home/Pictures

echo "Linking Manjaro tools config folder..."
ln -sf /data/private/manjaro-tools-config ~/.config/manjaro-tools

echo "Linking Thunderbird data folder..."
ln -sf /data/private/.home/.thunderbird

echo "Linking Virtual Environments folder..."
ln -sf /data/projects/.virtualenvs

echo "Linking VirtualBox VMs..."
ln -sf /data/virtualbox/VirtualBox\ VMs

echo "Copying Git config..."
ln -sf /data/private/.home/.gitconfig

echo "Linking makepkg config..."
ln -sf /data/private/.home/.makepkg.conf

echo "Linking Transifex config..."
ln -sf /data/private/.home/.transifexrc

echo "Linking netrc config..."
ln -sf /data/private/.home/.netrc ~/
chown fh:fh ~/.netrc
chmod u+rwx,go-rwx ~/.netrc

echo "Copying SSH config folder..."
cp -r /data/private/.home/.ssh ~/.ssh
chown fh:fh ~/.ssh -R
chmod u+rwx,go-rwx ~/.ssh -R

echo "Linking thunderbird folder..."
ln -sf /data/private/.home/.thunderbird

echo "Linking GPG keyring"
rm -f ~/.gnupg
ln -sf /data/private/.home/.gnupg
chown fh:fh ~/.gnupg -R
chmod u+rwx,go-rwx ~/.gnupg -R

echo "Done!"