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I think we might be a bit unfocused

So, it seems like my previous post about standalone /boot caused quite a stir. I wonder why that is, as it was basically just my personal opinion in the matter.

I found quite astonishing that people wanted to “defend” their choice without providing much details in the reasoning; I sincerely have yet to understand how the standard /boot put standalone can help in any kind of rescue operation of a system with a standard root filesystem.

I wouldn’t also say that /boot ought to be standalone by default because it’s needed in a number of different cases that are most likely the minority of the users: LVM setups, software raid setups, encrypted rootfs setups (why encrypting rootfs by the way? I do understand encrypting home directories, but I fail to understand what you gain by encrypting the root filesystem, as you need to unlock it anyway, I admit my ignorance here). I sincerely doubt that summing up all these cases together with people using very old systems, you end up having a majority of users needing a standalone /boot.

As I said, I still don’t see how having a standalone /boot helps rescue. Donnie if you could clarify what you mean about rescuing a system with /boot standalone with busybox, I’d certainly find it helpful, I’m always open to new techniques. Myself, I don’t think that saving the kernels in /boot is going to save me if the rootfs is corrupted: I wouldn’t even have busybox at that point. And you can certainly find the kernel even in the main / through grub if needed; my preferred rescue method is anyway to just put a CD on the drive and boot from that.

What I find actually childish is that an (anonymous) commenter blamed me for trying to make Linux like Windows. Well, let’s say that I certainly don’t want to have Linux like Windows; I could well accept having Linux like OSX (the main reason why I still use OSX is because I find its inspiring that a fully UNIX operating system – 10.5 got SUS approval – can be so user friendly), but that’s also beside the point. What people like that fear? To lose their geek status if Linux becomes an user friendly operating system? Well I suppose you could switch to OpenBSD then, Theo being as childish as you at that point.

As for what concerns multiple distributions, I once tried it, the results were terrible because the distributions tried to overwrite one the kernel of the other, so in such a case I do find perfect a setup where /boot is not standalone and especially not shared.

Anyway, what really blows me up is how people fiercely tried to defend their position. I just tried to give my opinion, and I was mostly referring to the fact that I find absurd that people do stuff just because they read it without understanding why and if they really need it (sorry, I don’t buy the idea that someone should do stuff “just because told so” without looking up why he’s doing it, at least during the install of something like Gentoo – they are welcome to use Fedora at that point). Maybe some of the commenters wanted to justify their use of a standalone /boot even if they can’t answer the question “why am I using a standalone /boot?”, and somehow didn’t want to feel stupid, I don’t know.

If only people were so fierce in defending opensource, or could be so easily involved in processes like quality assurance and similar things… seems like people get here only when they want to defend their opinion 😉

Comments 5
  1. A encrypted root fs might make sense if you have to hide what you have installed.In Germany it is not illegal to use, own or develop “hacker software”. That does incluse portscanners, intrusion detection software and probably ping (no one actually knows). So if you really want to be sure, you have ot encrypt you / partition so that the government cannot find the nmpa binary.But I admit that that is probably not a very average use case.

  2. If it makes you feel any better, I probably won’t make a separate /boot next time as a result of reading your post because I can’t really justify my need for it either, unless it really is a problem for XFS, which I don’t think it is.

  3. Here are some reasons why I find a seperate /boot useful.1. Protect against mistakes with dd. I was copying a image for an embedded machine to a sdcard once, and I accidentally typed /dev/sda instead of /dev/sde. Thankfully, I was looking at the sdcard adapter when I pressed enter, noticed the activity light wasn’t blinking and killed dd in time. I had wiped out my partition table, /boot and some swap, but my root fs was intact. It took many hours to recover from the lost partition table, and 5 minutes to restore /boot and swap. Had I not used a seperate /boot, I would have destroyed my rootfs, necessitating a reinstall.2. The way it’s always been done. Not a very good argument, but the classic argument of if it doesn’t need fixing, don’t break it applies here. In this day of graphical installers, the average user doesn’t know or care about where /boot is, where most old school linux users are used to /boot being it’s own partition.3. Obscurity/Security. You can mimic /boot on your rootfs, thus tricking most scriptkiddies into messing with the wrong kernel image. Also, you could use different security systems(selinux comes to mind) to prevent a would be hacker, even with root privs, from even mounting /boot, thus allowing you to know that in the worst case, you can reboot your box and have a sane kernel.

  4. I have to agree with Chewi. My partitioning scheme dates back to when I did my first Linux installation (Mandrake), and that was what was recommended. But then again, I honestly cannot see any serious downsides to having separate /boot, except for the (small) amount of diskspace wasted.

  5. Diego, basically if you have busybox installed into /boot, you can change the kernel parameter root=/path/to/boot and init=/bin/bb or so if your root partition gets corrupted for some reason. You can install more system rescue tools to /boot with ROOT=/boot emerge foo. I can never find LiveCDs when I’m looking for them and cannot rely on them to be around wherever I am with my laptop, so this is a decent substitute.

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