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Qu4rk
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 4:37 pm    Post subject: Do you use a separate boot partition? Reply with quote

Do many users use a separate boot partition? And if so, which FS do you make it?

The installation guide which is old makes it an ext 2. I'm wondering do I need one at all & if so, whats the best FS to make it?
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andrewthomas
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I vote no. Unnecessary. I think that this was due to not being able to boot from an extended partition.
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DONAHUE
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't.
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John R. Graham
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do. The traditional arguments for:
  • I use some weird filesystem that Grub doesn't understand.
  • My system is more robust if my kernel is loaded from a filesystem that isn't touched all day long. In fact, I don't even mount the boot partition unless I'm updating it.
  • I have a machine with an old BIOS that can't see all of my drive. I use a boot partition to ensure that the kernel and/or initramfs files will never be placed beyond where my BIOS can read. (Contributed by NeddySeagoon.)
  • I use software RAID0, RAID5 (or above) or LVM on my root partition, which legacy Grub can't handle and don't yet want to mess with Grub 2. (Also contributed by NeddySeagoon.)
  • I encrypt my root partition so I need to load the kernel from an unencrypted partition. (Contributed by ccach0rr0.)
The traditional arguments against:
  • It's more complex and usually not strictly necessary. KISS.
  • (Actually, I'm unaware of any other argument against.)
Comes down to choice. :wink:

If you do decide to have a boot partition, then ext2 is just fine; the choice is much less important than your root partition filesystem.

Edit: Going to make this post a compendium of all the legitimate reasons for and against that I missed in my original post.

- John
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Last edited by John R. Graham on Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:02 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Qu4rk
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John, what FS do you use for your boot?
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John R. Graham
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry; was editing that in above as you were replying. Using the KISS principle, and noting that the boot partition filesystem choice doesn't affect day-to-day performance, I chose ext2.

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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Qu4rk,

The small /boot partition became required when the BIOS could not read the entire hard drive. That first happened when hard drives reached 528Mb, which is a long time ago now. Its happened a few times since too, around 2G ,4G, 8G, 33G and 137G. It will occur next at 144115Tb. The small /boot ensured that the BIOS could read all the files needed to boot the system.

If you have an older system, with the 137G BIOS limit, fitted with a 160G (say) drive, all will be well until you get a grub or kernel update that leaves some of the binaries above 137G.

Such systems are rare today, so with a plain simple install a /boot is not required. However, if you use raid, except raid1, or logical volume manager. a /boot is essential as grub cannot boot from these volumes.

I use lvm on top of raid5. My /boot is ext2 because there is no point in using a journalled file system for such a small partition.
Today, I could use ext4 without the journal but it was not an option when I installed as grub would not boot from ext4 at the time.
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cach0rr0
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i do use one, because for all of my systems the "root partition" is encrypted, as is everything else. So, grub would obviously not be able to read them:
e.g.
Code:

/dev/mapper/root on / type ext3 (rw,noatime,commit=600)
/dev/mapper/var on /var type ext2 (rw)
/dev/mapper/usr on /usr type ext3 (rw,commit=600)
/dev/mapper/tmp on /tmp type ext2 (rw,nosuid,nodev)
/dev/mapper/home on /home type xfs (rw,nosuid,logbufs=8)

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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do as well (ext2), force of habit i guess,
back in the day it happened to be the only partition readable with a boot disk (yes i said disk as in 3.5" )
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cwr
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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tend to mess with different kernels and partition layouts (and distros),
so I use a boot partition (ext2) to make my life easier. I had a lot of
problems in the early days getting Windows and Linux to play nicely
together, and after having to edit the partition table by hand I didn't
want Grub messing with it again. So Windows has hd1-3 to play with,
and Grub boots off hd5. Whatever changes happen to the partititons
beyond hd5, Grub is unaffected, and adding a new kernel or booting
from a new root partition is just a matter of updating grub.conf.

Will
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello,

As my system has root-on-LVM and I do not want to migrate to grub2 too early (I like the simplicity of legacy grub and can't seem to find my way to understand the mess in grub2), I do use a separate /boot partition.

As for others, this partition has "noauto", so it won't mount unless I specifically want to change something in it (kernel upgrade).

As for the FS I really don't think it'll matter that much, /boot partitions tend to have small files, not a long list of them, and are only accessed at boot time, I'm not sure the FS will weigh a lot in boot optimization, so I'd say anything your bootloader can read from.
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krinn
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

partition as ext2 too
simply to only mount it when need, don't mess with the kernel, that's the thing n°2 to boot (grub is 1), but it's for my server where i wish keep away from everyone my boot section, on my personal desktop because i wish keep it away from my "breakmygentoo" experiments, on my work computer i didn't have one, i simply never play with it.
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javeree
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I normally don't, but have made one exception:

A netbook I use as a HTPC that came pre-installed with WinXP and HD-based recovery mechanism. The boot mechannism was definitely not the 'standard bios/windows boot (customized or stripped BIOS even)', as it allows very early to press a key and select the recovery mechanism. I did not want to meddle with that, so I made a separate boot partition on a FAT based USB-stick, and point BIOS to boot from the USB stick.

On another machine I am considering moving a 32 bit gentoo to 64 bit gentoo. My plan is to create a separate partition for the 64 bit install, and use the current 32 bit partition as a boot partition containing both the 32 bit and the 64 bit kernels.

Once the 64bit install is completed, I'll remove the 32 bit install, shrinking that partition into just a boot partition.

So I see that sometimes it has its uses, but I don't need it on 'normal' installs.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I almost always use a single partition for the whole thing without a separate boot partition (because I like to keep things simple and I'm lazy). But once I had to create a boot partition, because this old thing's BIOS wasn't able to recognize a 320GB IDE hard disk.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always use ext2 on its own partition for boot and usually assign 128MB size, its probably just force of habit at this stage but I do think its nice to have it this way as your boot setup is untouchable in normal operation.
The only time I have not used that layout was when installing on a PS3 where the boot was part of the main partition.
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Randy Andy
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Only once I had to create a boot partition, because of an old BIOS that wasn't able to recognize IDE hard disks bigger than 8GB.

In all other cases i like to have boot and root on the same partition, not only cause the KISS principle.
Especially since my perferred GRUb legacy was able to boot from my preferred ext4 filesystem.

I like to seperate every installed Linux system with it's own bootloader on its own partition (home is seperate of course).
Then you can couple every different Linux system via GRUBs chainloader, or if you like via menue entry in first grub for direct start.

The advantage i see here is the following: If you're testing with lots of different distros, and most of the stupid once (not like gentoo) which prefers update automatisms for the whole distro, including boot loaders, they can't distroy any other bootloader as their own.

Every kernel in a distros /boot directory belongs only to one linux on the same partition, prevents confusing (ok, KISS), but also for reliability.
If you do something wrong, or got a hard disk crash, you can enter your Bios to say boot from an other disk, and that works too, cause this has it's own Boot loader.

I like this strategy and it was prooved and tested by me for a long time.

The only thing i had to learn before, is how to install grub safe for my needs, and how to repair or fix a broken GRUB installation.

But as often, it's a matter of taste and with gentoo its all about choice. :wink:

Andy.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use a seperate /boot for 2 reasons:
1. My harddrive is encrypted and I use lvm
2. I use grub2 and keep a systemrescuecd iso in /boot so when problems occur (or i break stuff) i don't have to dig out a cd or usb stick to fix them.

I don't strictly need it for the second reason but when booting from iso whatever partition it's on gets mounted and sometimes when trying to fix things you want/need to unmount the filesystem.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use many separate partitions including a separate /boot partition, although have switched from ext2 to ext4 (without journal or huge file support) for it.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

/boot with ext2, rest is BTRFS. I did install way before GRUB did know about btrfs and I am not wanting to toy around with grub and experimental filesystems. The latter one is dangerous on its own :)
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