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I am planning to install Kubuntu onto an SSD, but have /home mounted on a hard disk drive.
But also, I would like some /home/... subdirectories to benefit from SSD's performance (they will be read often and written rarely).

An obvious solution for this is to create symbolic links to some location on the solid-state drive.
However, I was under the impression that symlinks are similar to files in a way, and to get to the files on the SSD, the computer would have to read the symlink from the HDD first.

So my question is the following:
Do symbolic links from a (normal) hard disk drive to a solid-state drive (both ext4 formatted) lead to a significant performance hit? Can I just use them or should I look for another solution?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

No, it does not lead to a performance hit. The link has to be read, but only once. After that it will be kept in the cache.

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That's nice to hear, but can you provide some references/proof? – Oleh Prypin Dec 1 '12 at 20:50
There are two exceptions, Recursive links (i.e. /filea links to /fileb that links to /filea) and when the HDD is spun down (it will take time to spool drive). But there is no performance hit on links themselves. – coteyr Dec 1 '12 at 20:59

You could keep the whole of /home in SSD, and mount only the Documents, Pictures, etc in the harddisk. Consider this solution as in my computer:

/disk/zero/bin /home/sddhrthrt/bin      auto bind 0 0
/disk/zero/Documents /home/sddhrthrt/Documents  auto bind 0 0
/disk/zero/dotfiles /home/sddhrthrt/dotfiles    auto bind 0 0
/disk/zero/srv      /home/sddhrthrt/srv         auto bind 0 0 

in your /etc/fstab. I'm not sure if this is better than symlinking, but I guess it performs better. (I did it for backup/sharing purposes anyway, because I do the same folders with other distros too).

And you should consider mounting your /var in the harddisk if you haven't already.

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