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I use wubi to install Ubuntu 10.10 on my ntfs partition. So I want to change the home folder to a folder on the ntfs partition. I could keep the personal configuration, software and so on after reinstalling the Ubuntu.

So I use ntfs-config to manage the disk partition, it's mounted when system is startup. And the permission of all files and directories are 777.

Then I modified the /etc/passwd to set the home folder to the folder on the ntfs partition. I can successfully login the account, however it looks like the .bashrc and .profile are not loaded correctly. I can't use the input method(even can't configure ibus), no sound device. However everything works well after changing the home folder back to /home/.

Could anybody give me a hint to make it work? Thanks.

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NTFS is not suitable for an home partition, there are certain type of file system objects (character devices, named pipes, etc) which maybe required but not supported on NTFS). –  João Pinto Dec 3 '10 at 14:43
    
@Pinto, thanks for your reply. Yes, I know ntfs misses some features comparing to the file system used by linux. But in my knowledge it's the best way to keep the personal data safty without creating a ext3/ext4 partition. I did such thing when using 9.04 several months ago, it worked well. –  Kane Dec 3 '10 at 14:59
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the problem is that some of those features might be required nowadays, for example, about your audio problem, pulseaudio now runs at the user level, it creates symbolic links in your home dir ($HOME/.pulseaudio). I am not sure you can create unix compatible symbolic links on NTFS pointing to an ext partition (/tmp). –  João Pinto Dec 3 '10 at 15:17
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5 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

NTFS is not suitable for an home partition, there are certain type of file system objects (character devices, named pipes, etc) which are required for certain services but are not supported on NTFS.

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I'm currently storing the sub-folders of my home (e.g. ~/Documents, ~/Music) on an NTFS filesystem and it appears to be working fine a few months in.

As an example, here's how to host your ~/Documents in your Windows profile folders on an NTFS partition:

  1. First make sure you have the NTFS partition set to automount so it's accessible to the system each boot.
  2. Move any files that might have accumulated in ~/Documents over to the NTFS partition (e.g. mv ~/Documents/* /mnt/winblows/Users/Username/Documents/).
  3. Now delete the ~/Documents directory and create a link to that NTFS folder in its place named Documents (e.g. ln -s mnt/winblows/Users/Username/Documents Documents).

Note: You might have to make ensure your ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs is in sync with the folder locations you've chosen (I did). See this answer for more details. Also, be careful to note the actual locations of your Windows user profile directories as these vary from version to version.

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You would be better off not doing this if you want to ensure security. In older GDM versions (like what you would have found in 9.04) there was an easy option to ignore file permissions etc. However, GDM's (gui) options have changed a lot since then, and my suggestion is that you should avoid the risk. For example if your .Xauthority file gets the wrong permissions, you could be left unable to log in.

As other user pointed out, NTFS does not support some of the features that applications/service may need, like unix symbolic links, and then there is also the risk of fragmentation, which happens much more on NTFS than on ext file systems. For safety, stick with something like xfs, ext3/4, or even btrfs.

EDIT: Another thing I took note of, you said you used wubi to install on an NTFS partition. This only works because it creates a virtual disk, but as I mentioned above, fragmentation can occur. If you put your /home folder on a partition under the control of windows there is a risk of corruption (I don't have links, but I have experience; I've done something similar before, and had to do a disk check every time windows accessed the drive. Little did I know that windows was messing things up slowly but surely).

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Seems like fragmentation is not a problem with SSD drives these days. –  trusktr Feb 11 at 7:39
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Instead of moving over my home directory, I removed the existing data folders and created links to them in their place.

So in detail what I did was to go to File System, find the directory named host (which in windows was my C:\ in windows as it was where I was hosting ubuntu using Wubi). Then I went to user\myusername\ and created links for my Documents, Music, Pictures folders. I backed up all my data from home\ into these folders. (For instance home\Pictures\* into host\user\myusername\Pictures). I then deleted my home\Pictures folder and then moved the link I created in host\user\myusername\ into my home folder and renamed it to "Picture". The same applies to other folders.

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A different approach is to: - Leave your home folder mounted as it is, - Automatically mount the VFAT partition on e.g. /mnt/my-data - Move your standard Documents, Pictures, Videos, etc. folders to this VFAT partition. Dragging and dropping these folders seems to work, but it may be necessary to edit your ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs. Experiment.

Now you have at least these files located on the VFAT partition shared with Microsoft Windows. Microsoft Windows has similar folders, and I suppose you can redirect those this shared partition -- Sorry, I don't know how, but I'd like to know!

I think seems like a nice way of doing it. All your Linux-specific files are still located on a Linux filesystem, and only your shared data is placed on a primitive VFAT filesystem where features like symlinks and permissions don't exist, but are probably not needed either.

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