Option to auto create root home and swap partitions on install

Back in the day when I was using Mandrake Linux, the Installer gave you the option of auto creating root, home and swap partitions… the Installer would calculate the sizes, based on config values.

The first thing I noticed when I moved to Ubuntu was this option was not available, and I have not seen it in any other Distro.

What I am wondering is why no one seems to consider this option useful, and instead ‘forces’ a Microsoft Windows style install (a single root partition plus maybe a swap partition) on all users, unless they know how to do a manual install.


What is the difference between
the installer (back then) auto creating partitions, based upon some apparently sensible defaults
… not requiring you to know anything about the system
and the current approach
to either have it done for you - no thinking required
or to give you the option to decide for yourself

I do not think this is a valid question
nor is it a valid characterization of what is being offered
and also that nothing is forced upon anyone.

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The current Approach does not create separate root and home partitions, users are required to know how to perform this set up manually. People coming from Windows rarely get to know or understand this is possible, or even potentially desirable. I’ve had to talk a number of ex windows users through this on Ubuntu and Linux Mint, noting their surprise that they can do this.

When I first started using Linux (Mandrake), this auto set up configuration taught me a lot about partitioning in general, as when it came to version upgrade time I was able to simply install the system to the root partition, and merely select the various other partitions to ‘use this partition’.

Later on I had a better understanding of partitioning schemes when I moved the Ubuntu, which did not offer this option (root, home and swap partitions)

On a personal note, I believe the option the have separate root, home and swap partitions is a better option, as on can easily reinstall the system to the root partition, without affecting the user’s personal data in the home partition, and it makes backing up personal data, at that time, less of an issue.

In fact, in the early days of my Linux use, I had no extra media to back up personal data to, so being able to simply Install, or reinstall to a separate root was a god send.

Linux is supposed to be about choice, this choice is withheld, except to those that already know.


But something is being withheld.

Well, you can’t cater to everyone equally and make everyone happy.
We clearly have different opinions on the subject. :man_shrugging:



It is.

Calamares installer is a simple installer - yet it offers the opportunity to define your layout.

The issue - as I see it - offering a default layout of a separate home - will be defining the size of root.

When doing an Arch install using the console installer the default is as you prefer with a 20G root, separate home and swap.

This all good - for an Arch user base - but when it comes to Manjaro 20G is very quickly running out of space - that is if you don’t know your system - bring us back to knowledge as the starting point - and judging from the populartity of Manjaro and the issues on the forum - the userbase is not as knowledgeable as Arch.

  • When applying snaps - the packages are placed in the root filesystem
  • pamac stores build files in /var/tmp
  • pacman stores packages in /var/cache
  • other installs stores in /var/opt

I think the majority of users doesn’t care about separating home from root until they really need it - then there is several guides in the #contributions:tutorials section on the subject of reinstalling preserving user data or moving home to a separate partition.

Another thought to consider is dualboot - especially when it comes to Windows 7 which is a BIOS/MBR install - it often presents a problem that the last available partition is used by the Calamares installer.

You are correct :slight_smile:

So - as I see it - it is about knowledge - if you have knowledge you can do an advanced install scenario and you know how big your root need to be and how to keep your root clean.

If you have less knowledge you go with the default - full root partition - and only make decisions relating to swap and encryption.

Even the latter has proven to be a challenge to users with zero knowledge - they tend to go with the default - which - unfortunately is no swap.

In the case of the option I am speaking of, apparently Mandrake could.

They offered the current option set plus the option I am talking about.

If that is catering for Everyone, I would be very surprised. If it is then obviously it’s not a huge ask.

The ‘problems’ you outline are relatively easy to overcome, for example:

Make the recommended Partition scheme for Dual Boot a Single Root partition with a Swap file.

A little documentation goes a long way.

Documentation is always good - the best documentation originates in a user perspective - the guides I have written has started as notes while learning to accomplish a given task - then added text in between to clarify the why and how.

So if you feel up for it - your contribution is most welcome in the #contributions:tutorials section.


Hoist on my own Petard.

Please, though, consider seriously, the option I started this conversation with.

In point of fact, when I had zero knowledge, I chose the default I have spoken of, root, home and swap partitions.

To be fair, I had already been around computers for 20 years, by the time I tried Linux, and had installed DOS and Windows multiple times, often of the same machine, and I tend to do a lot of finger poken, (and often break things multiple times) to find out things.

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That is my area of expertise too :slight_smile:

Which also why I began docmenting my steps - so I could avoid doing the same stupid thing again and again.


Well yes, but I think to err on the side of simplicity is a better option. I don’t bother with a separate root partition as I had issues in the past with it filling up, though I do remap my ‘user’ folders elsewhere - my media/music/pictures folders are on storage disks outside my /home partition.

I have no issues with the default install to my SSD whilst keeping user folders/backups on other disks… I don’t care about separating partitions and I prefer a simple way to install my system to one SSD and Win10 to another SSD.

I keep those on my Fileserver.

I would suggest that a default that creates 1 partition, with everything, including a Swap File for Dual Booting with Windows

and a default with 40 to 50 Gig root partition, a minimum of 20 Gig Swap partition, and the rest for a home partition as a default full install. or maybe that option as part of the current full install where different Swap options are selectable

and Manual install

That’s actually less options than is current.

Because the future might be easier than the past :wink:

When using btrfs it may be easier to use subvolumes instead of partitions. This concept has been used by other file systems in the past. But it’s never been easier to use than with btrfs. (and to combine with RAID, compression and checksums)

And then you wouldn’t have to divide the space into partitions anymore.

I tend to agree with @Ben - the eaiest thing is to simply use one partition - then mount your extra partitions and refactor the /home/$user to point to those partitions.

I have a set of mount units and a couple of scripts.

When I reinstall the system - which I do from time to time - I only have to mount the partition holding the scripts/units and run one script in order to be back up.

It has become matter of 15-30m.

When I build the custom packages I use - I keep the builds - thus those are installable using pacman - not automated yet but it will be at some point when I need to distract myself from current tasks at hand.

But I am looking at btrfs as a possible replacement for ext4 on my root - not for my data - I have had some bad luck with btrfs in the past - which I have yet to forgive :slight_smile:



The it MAY be easier, is a bit of a deal breaker, when it IS, I am all in. Of course there WILL have to be sensible defaults for Noobs and for those who wish to dual boot.

Until then my initial comment still stands.

That may be true of an initial install, and indeed might even be reasonable as long as one stays with Manjaro. However if one decides to move to another Distro, having a separate root and Home partitions is almost essential. Installing another OS is as simple as reformatting the root partition and installing (using Manual install), your personal data is untouched. This applies if an update goes wrong, and it becomes necessary to use the nuclear option, and reinstall Manjaro.

On a personal note, it was having separate Root and Home partitions that saved my bacon, when the Linux Mint Upgrade went horribly wrong, and I decided to move to another Distro… Manjaro.

As for data with large storage requirements, such as Photography, and Movies, and EBooks, I store all of that on a Fileserver, so it is relatively unafected by what happens on my ‘desktop’.

The default confiugration when using Calamares to install is to create a separate @home.

But in terms of separation it doesn’t mean anything on btrfs - it is a nice way to only make snapshots of @root

I was triggered by my own comment earlier to revisit my script collection and during the housekeeping I somehow managed to kick myself in the bottom - no harm done really - but a nice reminder that I really should keep my scripting on gitlab.

So on gitlab it is - FH / wonky-restore · GitLab - only if you are curious of course - as it likely is one of a hundred ways to achieve this.

And what exact size of / would you suggest? Take note: if you make it too small, the procedure of securely expanding it (if not on LVM) is far beyond ordinary user’s knowledge and involves backing up good amounts of data to an external medium.

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The size of / (root), /home and swap depends on the data volume stored in these partitions.
The automatic creation is not possible then.

I would suggest 40 gig, that’s the size I make mine. but if you want to err on the side of caution, why not make it 60 gig. Most people don’t install the number of Apps I do, so in my opinion I would consider 40 Gig overkill, for most people…

So here’s my suggestion.

a Dual Boot with Windows, one partition (root), with a swap file.

a basic set up with 8 gig of RAM, 40 gig root, 20 Gig Swap, the rest home.