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 several Linux distros to share the same home/data partition, each having a unique user name and implicitly a separate home directory. I installed Debian Wheezy, and formatted this partition as btrfs. But then, when I install Ubuntu 13.04 and select that partition as /home it creates a new directory, @home, in which it puts another folder with the user name.

Why does this happen?

share|improve this question
13.04 or 12.04? – don.joey Jan 5 '13 at 13:08
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'm guessing Ubuntu always wants to use subvolumes, if you use btrfs for the root partition you will automatically get two subvolumes, "@/" and "@home/" (see the Ubuntu wiki btrfs entry for more info on this), and it might set up the "@home/" subvolume just for the sake of consistency.

On a side note: If you look in /etc/fstab you should see the option "subvol=@home" for the /home mountpoint, which means that it mounts the "@home/" subvolume of that btrfs (subvolumes are quite similar to directories in some sense).

Answer to comment:

Yes, you can mount the top node and the subvolume node simultaneously:

mount /dev/sdX# /mnt/top_node -o subvolid=5
mount /dev/sdX# /mnt/home_subvol -o subvol=@home

(If the top node is the default mount point (default case) you can omit the "-o subvolid=5" option)

Here the @home/ subvolume will be accessible both through /mnt/top_node/@home/ and /mnt/home_subvol/ equivalently.

It might be worth it to have the two dirs there alongside @home/ be subvolumes instead, that way you could snapshot and mount them all independently...

share|improve this answer
But I would like to access directories above "@home" from Ubuntu. Now, on that partition I have: data_dir, wheezy_home_dir and "@home", in which there is ubuntu_home_dir. The trick is, I cannot access data_dir or anything above "@home". Can I do that? – Miggs Jan 5 '13 at 11:31
Yes, see edits above, by the way, why is the ubuntu_home_dir folder there, shouldn't it suffice with just @home/username if it's mounted correctly (i.e. the @home/ subvolume node is mounted at /home)? – arand Jan 5 '13 at 12:40

I really hope this helps others who went down my path. I installed my root partition to btrfs. After booting it appeared to hang after scanning for btrfs partitions ....something about system v compatability. Someone in another thread said do a "soft shutdown" which worked for a second. Then I tried to turn on compression in the /etc/fstab file with compress=lzo. Unfortunately I put a space between theses settings here:

---->defaults, compress=lzo<-----

this leads to booting the system but not having a home directory when ctrl-alt-f4 and logging in. For example, It will say no directory and set your home directory to HOME=/ and you will see the root directory listing for your home.

if you did this remove the space so it reads defaults,compress=lzo

it kept an idiot like me occupied for days.

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.