Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I want to install Ubuntu and I would like to set my /home partition in an external USB hard drive that is directly connected to my router, and access my data through the LAN connection. Can it be done?

share|improve this question

Executive summary: Yes, you can do this, but it will not work very well, because the drive probably doesn't support Unix-style permissions.

You can make your home directory exist on a remote filesystem rather than the local computer. (If you do that, you might want to have another user account, to use for troubleshooting if a problem develops with the remote share.)

However, to work properly, home directories should be on volumes that support Unix-style file permissions. Your router probably uses SMB/CIFS to share the drive. Such permissions can be exposed well enough through Samba, so if you're using SMB/CIFS (Windows file sharing) to share a drive that is formatted with a Unix-style filesystem, this can work (though your router would likely be incapable of that).

The drive probably does not have a Unix-style filesystem. It probably has NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, or (if it's quite small), FAT16. The FAT filesystems don't support any system of permissions at all. NTFS supports permissions, but it's a different system from Unix-style permissions.

So yes, you can do this. You can edit /etc/fstab and put either /home or the specific home directory in /home as a mount point to the networks share. But since the volume being shared probably does not support the permissions needed for files inside an Ubuntu home directory, you probably should not do this.

A better approach may be to make certain folders inside your home directory (like Videos, Pictures, Documents, Downloads, and even Desktop) symbolic links to folders in the network share. (Any folder that contains programs or scripts you want to execute should not be, though, as it wouldn't be able to have execute permissions.)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.