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Old 02-26-2010, 04:54 PM
Paul Hartman
 
Default Advice/best practices for a new Gentoo installation

Hi, I'm building a new personal computer. I respect the opinion and
experience of the people on this list and am interested in anyone's
advice on the best way to set up my new Gentoo installation. Things
that you say "I wish I set mine up this way the first time..." or have
learned from experience how to do it right the first time already.

Some topics I'm thinking about (comments welcome):
- be aware of cylinder boundaries when partitioning (thanks to the
recent thread)
- utilizing device labels and/or volume labels instead of hoping
/dev/sda stays /dev/sda always
- initrd - I've never used one, but maybe it's needed if root is on
software RAID?
- grub/kernel parameter tips and tricks... i'm already using uvesafb,
and don't dual-boot with MSWin or anything, just Gentoo
- better partitioning scheme than my current root, boot, home (need
portage on its own, maybe /var as well?)
- some kind of small linux emergency/recovery partition? equivalent to
a liveCD maybe.
- best filesystem for portage? something compressed or with small
cluster size maybe.
- SSD vs 10000rpm vs big-and-cheap hard drive for rootfs/system files.
I lean toward the latter since RAM caches it anyway.
- omit/reduce number of reserved-for-root blocks on partitions where
it's not necessary.
- I have never used LVM and don't really know about it. Should I use
it? will it make life easier someday? or more difficult?
- Is RAID5 still a good balance for disk cost vs usable space vs data
safety? I can't/don't want to pay for full mirroring of all disks.

Or any other tips that apply to things which are difficult to change
once the system is in use.

It will be ~amd64 Gentoo using Intel Core i7 920 with 12GiB RAM. No
disks have been purchased yet.

Thanks
 
Old 02-26-2010, 05:24 PM
Kyle Bader
 
Default Advice/best practices for a new Gentoo installation

> - be aware of cylinder boundaries when partitioning (thanks to the
> recent thread)

+1

> - utilizing device labels and/or volume labels instead of hoping
> /dev/sda stays /dev/sda always

+1

> - initrd - I've never used one, but maybe it's needed if root is on
> software RAID?

It's not technically needed and boot times are faster without them.
I'm a fan of statically compiled kernels too but that's more to
prevent malicious LKMs.

> - grub/kernel parameter tips and tricks... i'm already using uvesafb,
> and don't dual-boot with MSWin or anything, just Gentoo
> - better partitioning scheme than my current root, boot, home (need
> portage on its own, maybe /var as well?)

putting portage on it's on partition is a good idea imo, I usually use
reiserfs because it handles large amounts of small files well.

> - some kind of small linux emergency/recovery partition? equivalent to
> a liveCD maybe.

I usually keep a bootable usb in my bag for recovery, which also works
if there is a problem with the disk/raid.

> - best filesystem for portage? something compressed or with small
> cluster size maybe.

reiserfs

> - SSD vs 10000rpm vs big-and-cheap hard drive for rootfs/system files.
> I lean toward the latter since RAM caches it anyway.

SSDs can make things snappier for boot times. Having lots of ram for
disk cache eliminates the benefit after booted since ram is even
faster than a SSD.

> - omit/reduce number of reserved-for-root blocks on partitions where
> it's not necessary.

I never get close to filling my disks so never have bothered with this

> - I have never used LVM and don't really know about it. Should I use
> it? will it make life easier someday? or more difficult?

I'm not a fan, if you don't plan on changing your partition sizes I
don't see a lot of utility in adding the extra layer of complexity.

> - Is RAID5 still a good balance for disk cost vs usable space vs data
> safety? I can't/don't want to pay for full mirroring of all disks.

It's better than no raid but as you probably know it will only allow
for a single disk failure. Getting drives from different lots (but
same geometry) is recommended.
--

Kyle
 
Old 02-26-2010, 06:22 PM
Willie Wong
 
Default Advice/best practices for a new Gentoo installation

On Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 11:54:13AM -0600, Paul Hartman wrote:
> - better partitioning scheme than my current root, boot, home (need
> portage on its own, maybe /var as well?)

/var if you are worried about log files piling up. I don't put portage
on its own, but I use reiserfs for /

> - some kind of small linux emergency/recovery partition? equivalent to
> a liveCD maybe.

Isn't that what busybox is for?

> - best filesystem for portage? something compressed or with small
> cluster size maybe.

Reiserfs. That's more because of the tail-packing then anything else.

> - omit/reduce number of reserved-for-root blocks on partitions where
> it's not necessary.

Yep. On a 200G drive, 10% is 20G: that's 4 movies!

> Or any other tips that apply to things which are difficult to change
> once the system is in use.

Pay attention to your make.conf? Make sure you get CHOST right.
If you are dealing with unfamiliar options in the kernel, always start
at the bare minimum and make sure you keep a working copy around.

W
--
Willie W. Wong wwong@math.princeton.edu
Data aequatione quotcunque fluentes quantitae involvente fluxiones invenire
et vice versa ~~~ I. Newton
 
Old 02-26-2010, 06:38 PM
BRM
 
Default Advice/best practices for a new Gentoo installation

----- Original Message ----

> From: Paul Hartman <paul.hartman+gentoo@gmail.com>
> To: gentoo-user@lists.gentoo.org
> Some topics I'm thinking about (comments welcome):
> - be aware of cylinder boundaries when partitioning (thanks to the
> recent thread)
> - utilizing device labels and/or volume labels instead of hoping
> /dev/sda stays /dev/sda always

I've never had an issue with /dev/sda changing, but I don't change out hard drives a lot either.
If you're doing hot-pluggable systems may be. But it typically does the right thing.

I haven't gotten around to do doing it yet, but one thing I did think about was setting up udev to recognize certain external hard drives for use - e.g. always mapping a backup hard drive to a certain location for backups instead of the normal prompting.

> - initrd - I've never used one, but maybe it's needed if root is on
> software RAID?

You only need initrd if you can't build a kernel with everything needed to boot up - namely, when you need to load specialized firmware to access the hard drive or if you are doing net-booting.

> - grub/kernel parameter tips and tricks... i'm already using uvesafb,
> and don't dual-boot with MSWin or anything, just Gentoo

I typically make sure to alias or map a "default" that should always work. It's my standard boot up unless I"m testing out a new kernel build.
When I do an update, I add the update to the list without modifying the default until I've verified that the updated kernel is working.
Works better under LILO than grub if I recall.

> - better partitioning scheme than my current root, boot, home (need
> portage on its own, maybe /var as well?)

I have taken to putting portage on its own partition to keep from filling up the root partition, which I've done on a few systems more than once.
So yes, definately +5.

> - best filesystem for portage? something compressed or with small
> cluster size maybe.

1. Stay away from reiserfs. Yeah, I know there's a big fan base for it; but it's not so big in the recovery distro area.
2. Ext2/3 are now more than sufficient and supported out-of-the-box by nearly all recovery distros. I haven't tried Ext4 yet, but it seems very able as well.

From various things I've seen, XFS or JFS is about the only real FS to offer benefits where it kind of makes sense.
But for the most part, Ext2/3/4 will probably more than suffice for most everyone's need; and when it doesn't - you're typically doing something where you need to find the right one out of numerous for a specialized area of use, in which case, general recommendations don't cut it.

(Why care about recovery disks: B/c you never know when you're going to need to access that partition.)

> - SSD vs 10000rpm vs big-and-cheap hard drive for rootfs/system files.
> I lean toward the latter since RAM caches it anyway.

I lean towards just going the standard 10k hard drives with lots of cache; though I typically only buy the middle-line Western Digitals (upper-line being the server hard drives).

> - omit/reduce number of reserved-for-root blocks on partitions where
> it's not necessary.
> - I have never used LVM and don't really know about it. Should I use
> it? will it make life easier someday? or more difficult?

I tried out LVM (LVM2) thinking it would kind of make sense. I still have one system using it; but I ended up abandoning it.
Why? Recovery is a pita when something goes wrong. Not to say it isn't flexible, but for most people LVM is unnecessary, kind of like RAID.

> - Is RAID5 still a good balance for disk cost vs usable space vs data
> safety? I can't/don't want to pay for full mirroring of all disks.

RAID is not really necessary for most people. Save it for sections on doing backups - e.g. setting up a drive to backup to that gets mirrored off - or server support, where RAID is necessary.
But most users don't need RAID.

> Or any other tips that apply to things which are difficult to change
> once the system is in use.

KISS.

Ben
 
Old 02-26-2010, 07:30 PM
 
Default Advice/best practices for a new Gentoo installation

Paul Hartman wrote:

>> - some kind of small linux emergency/recovery partition? equivalent to
>> a liveCD maybe.
Tiny core linux on the boot folder/part. Its all in a single small file.


>> Or any other tips that apply to things which are difficult to change
>> once the system is in use.

I moved distfiles onto my home partition (bacause its huge), my root fs
is 5GB ext3, it never really changes much.

--
Regards,
Roundyz
 
Old 03-02-2010, 05:31 AM
Frank Steinmetzger
 
Default Advice/best practices for a new Gentoo installation

Am Freitag 26 Februar 2010 schrieb Paul Hartman:

> Hi, I'm building a new personal computer. I respect the opinion and
> experience of the people on this list and am interested in anyone's
> advice on the best way to set up my new Gentoo installation. Things
> that you say "I wish I set mine up this way the first time..." or have
> learned from experience how to do it right the first time already.
>
> Some topics I'm thinking about (comments welcome):
> - be aware of cylinder boundaries when partitioning (thanks to the
> recent thread)

Indeed. ;-)
I just applied that knowledge again yesterday on a friend’s new laptop.

> - better partitioning scheme than my current root, boot, home (need
> portage on its own, maybe /var as well?)

I use the root/boot/home scheme as well (500GB laptop drive). Though I used
ReiserFS in an image file on / file system for a while, but dropped it later.
Using an image file saves from fiddling with partitions and FS resizing in the
process.

> - some kind of small linux emergency/recovery partition? equivalent to
> a liveCD maybe.

I always wanted to make my own Gentoo-based livecd that fits onto my old 128M
stick. )

> - SSD vs 10000rpm vs big-and-cheap hard drive for rootfs/system files.
> I lean toward the latter since RAM caches it anyway.

I’m still caucios about SSDs because of their limited lifetime. I would only
use it for /home or my media archive. But for the latter, it would become
over-expensive fast, for they are more pricey by the GB than all other things.
If it shall be a quiet system, I’d look into 2,5" drives, they also use less
power than 3,5", on the other hand they are of course more expensive.

> - omit/reduce number of reserved-for-root blocks on partitions where
> it's not necessary.

I’ve set it to 0 on my home partition. I also reduced the inode count on my
media, home and X-Plane partition. None of those have more than 60000 in use
at the moment, whereas mkfs had given them about 3 to 4 million by default.
I’m not sure though if that gives me any more available space.
--
Gruß | Greetings | Qapla'
This sentence no verb.
 
Old 03-02-2010, 08:35 AM
Alex Schuster
 
Default Advice/best practices for a new Gentoo installation

Paul Hartman writes:

> - utilizing device labels and/or volume labels instead of hoping
> /dev/sda stays /dev/sda always

Good idea. Or use LVM.

> - better partitioning scheme than my current root, boot, home (need
> portage on its own, maybe /var as well?)

I like to have many partitions. When my /usr/portage/distfiles or /tmp
gets full, I do not want this to affect my system.

> - some kind of small linux emergency/recovery partition? equivalent to
> a liveCD maybe.

Maybe, but a liveCD is also fine and can be used elsewhere, too.

> - best filesystem for portage? something compressed or with small
> cluster size maybe.

I think reiserfs with the notail option is recommended.

> - omit/reduce number of reserved-for-root blocks on partitions where
> it's not necessary.

I reduce it for large partitions, but do not set it to 0 in order to
prevent fragmentation.

> - I have never used LVM and don't really know about it. Should I use
> it? will it make life easier someday? or more difficult?

A little more difficult in the first place, until you get used to it. But
if you need to change things later, it makes this much easier. /var is too
small? Well, enter lvresize -L +1G /dev/myvg/var && resize2fs
/dev/myvg/var and you have 1G more of space after half a minute. No need
to take the system down, boot a rescue system and use parted.

Short how-to:
- create some partitions you will use for LVM (/dev/sda[56789])
- make them physical volumes: pvcreate /dev/sda[56789]
- make them a volume group: vgcreate myvg /dev/sda[56789]
- create logical volumes: lvcreate -L 5G -n usr myvg (/usr partition)
- create file system: mke2fs -j -L usr /dev/myvg/usr

> - Is RAID5 still a good balance for disk cost vs usable space vs data
> safety? I can't/don't want to pay for full mirroring of all disks.

Probably, if you need RAID. But I'd say RAID is not a real backup, so you
would need even more disks space for that. I prefer to use a 2nd disk for
backups I make frequently with rdiff-backup. They have the same structure
as the original, only that each partition has an additional 'rdiff-backup-
data' directory that stores the data of older snapshots.
Some months ago my main drive started having errors, so I took it out,
booted with a CD, renamed the volume group of the backup disk to that of
the original one ("vgrename backup system"), and that was all. Using RAID
would have been even easier, but does not help when I accidentally remove
a file, or want a file as it was a whiel ago.
Keeping the older snapshots needs some extra space, but this is
compensated by not having to backup everything including
/usr/portage/distfiles, /var/tmp/portage etc.

Wonko
 
Old 03-02-2010, 09:10 AM
Neil Bothwick
 
Default Advice/best practices for a new Gentoo installation

On Tue, 2 Mar 2010 10:35:42 +0100, Alex Schuster wrote:

> > - best filesystem for portage? something compressed or with small
> > cluster size maybe.
>
> I think reiserfs with the notail option is recommended.

The data I've seen indicates that ext2 is fastest, that's what I use.
There's no need for journalling on the portage tree, it's small enough to
fsck quickly and if it does get broken, reformat and resync.


--
Neil Bothwick

New Intel opcode #007 PUKE: Put unmeaningful keywords everywhere
 
Old 03-02-2010, 01:43 PM
Mick
 
Default Advice/best practices for a new Gentoo installation

On 2 March 2010 10:10, Neil Bothwick <neil@digimed.co.uk> wrote:
> On Tue, 2 Mar 2010 10:35:42 +0100, Alex Schuster wrote:
>
>> > - best filesystem for portage? something compressed or with small
>> > cluster size maybe.
>>
>> I think reiserfs with the notail option is recommended.
>
> The data I've seen indicates that ext2 is fastest, that's what I use.
> There's no need for journalling on the portage tree, it's small enough to
> fsck quickly and if it does get broken, reformat and resync.

Over the years I've had /usr/portage on reiserfs (with tails and all)
and xfs on laptops. New machine has reiser4. Seems blindingly fast,
but that's no comparison because the machine is more modern.
--
Regards,
Mick
 
Old 03-03-2010, 10:52 AM
Alex Schuster
 
Default Advice/best practices for a new Gentoo installation

Neil Bothwick writes:

> On Tue, 2 Mar 2010 10:35:42 +0100, Alex Schuster wrote:
> > > - best filesystem for portage? something compressed or with small
> > > cluster size maybe.
> >
> > I think reiserfs with the notail option is recommended.
>
> The data I've seen indicates that ext2 is fastest, that's what I use.

I thought the small files of the portage tree especially profit from the
notail option in reiserfs? Did you change the block size?

> There's no need for journalling on the portage tree, it's small enough
> to fsck quickly and if it does get broken, reformat and resync.

Would the journaling overhead be noticeable?
I also had used ext2 for my portage tree first, then I read somewhere that
reiserfs would be the best. BTW, I have distfiles and pkgdir somewhere
else, if not the fsck would not be so fast.

Just for fun, I just copied my $PORTDIR into my tmpfs, emerge -DpN @system
@world takes between 81 and 53 seconds. With reiserfs, I get 130 seconds
first ($PORTDIR was unmounted first and mounted again to clear the
caches), and 57 seconds in the second attempt.

I had expected that tmpfs would be even faster. I think I just keep it the
way it is now.

Wonko
 

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