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I'm searching for months (if not years) now for a solution to the following problem:

I wish to have a general setup based on the following:

PC/Laptop/Notebook/Server with ...

  1. 1 (ONE) S-ATA CompactFlash DRIVE (8/16/32/64::GB) to hold any linux-partitions needed to deliver a fully running system with root access, BUT avoiding temporary partitions (like for updates,installs, downloads etc.) - just the full CORE running independent, but far better when combined with the following Part [B] ...

  2. 1 (ONE) S-ATA HardDiskDrive (HDD) holding any temporary partitions needed to make linux running more efficient (as mentioned under [A] delivering temporary space for downloads/updates/installs) - IF POSSIBLE it should be usable with MBR-Partition-Type, so that free-space can be used for Windows/NTFS and a direct boot via BIOS-Boot-Order/GRUB2 is possible

  3. 1 (ONE) PCMCIA CompactFlash Adapter to bind encrypted /HOME-Partitions and User-Specific settings, which should (if possible) be shown up at login screen in the moment one of it is present (like late-binding of user-specific-data and account-settings, maybe delivered via steady request on hot-swapped pcmcia-device?)

That's it!

Is it possible?

Please don't do me harm, by giving me instructions on how i could enable a much more secure or insecure, but faster and more reliable way. It's my mixture and i ask you freaks and geeks who have much more competence on this subject than me, for advice.

Is it possible to do a late and reactive binding of encrypted /HOME-partitions and USER-ACCOUNTS?

Is it possible to separate (mostly) READ-ONLY-DATA and (mostly) TEMPORARY-DATA on two physical drives?

If so, please give me the answer. And even if it is not possible with Ubuntu (hopefully with Oneiric Ocelot) than maybe it can be accomplished with pure DEBIAN or with concurrent LinuxOS like CentOS or Fedora?

In case, i misunderstood something in general, relating the boot- and or- system/-core-procedures of LINUX, please leave an explanation.

P.S.: If you can't understand, why this is important: I realized that Compact Flash Type III Cards deliver much more responsiveness and reliability than HDD or SSD, measured over 3 years experience, by now. And i believe - in physical - it is the best way to make such systems human-compatible -- maybe you should take a deeper look at the measurements of pcmcia-compactflash-adapters if you doubt it (ever thought of credit- and identity-cards and endurance of memory?)

In hope i made your heads stumble and i am earning constructive response on this request, i leave with best regards to all of you who think of it before denying.

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2 Answers 2

  1. Install Windows first on the S-ATA HDD. It will install it's bootloader to the MBR.
  2. Then, when installing Linux (preferably Ubuntu!), select the following setup for the partitions: A. Select / partition to be on the Compact Flash Drive. Use the entire drive. B. Select /boot partition to be on the S-ATA HDD. Also, the linux bootloader must be installed to the MBR of the S-ATA HDD. This is because the bootloader searches the same hard disk, on which it is installed, for GRUB (i.e., /boot partition). C. Select swap partition to be on the S-ATA HDD. Swap partition should be twice as large as your RAM size. So, if your machine has 4 GB RAM, ten the swap must be 8 GB. This will allow you to hibernate your machine when required. D. Select /home partition to be on the PCMCIA Compact Flash Adaptar. NOTE: The /home partition is only mounted when a user logs in. Otherwise, just switching on the machine will not mount the /home partition (access on demand).
  3. After this is done, continue with the installation. At one point, you will be asked to create the Administator user. At this point, you can also opt to encrypt the /home partition. Do so. Now, your /home partition will be encrypted.
  4. Finish the installation. And you are done!

NOTE: I have asked you to install Windows first because it will over-write the MBR and it does not detect Operating Sytems other than Windows versions. So, your install Windows first and then install Linux. Linux will detect all other Operating Systems and it will allow you to choose which Operating System you want to boot, like Windows, Mac or Linux.

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Thank you very much for your precise instructions, rigved.

That's what i thought of (due to my knowledge and experience) originally and therefore i fully agree with you and thank you for stating it here, but there was a problem in any attempt i made (up to Ubuntu 11.04, since 8.04; versions before worked right that way);

The problem was/is, that install runs fine, first start of system after setup initializes correctly and then after another reboot it seems to lose binding of the /home partition if it is placed on the PCMCIA/PCCARD CompactFlash. I found out that something was changed over versions, which loads the necessary driver later. So i asked how can it be that it does the job when booting right after install. I found out, that (maybe due to my settings, i don't know) it boots into a root or sudo state then, because of unattended upgrades and creating folders and files and their rights customized to the locale settings.

Maybe you have further thoughts on this? I would appreciate it.

One 'solution' i found was switching to real-time kernel or using the ubuntu studio flavor in version 10.04 which makes use of it, too it seems and then boot into rescue mode constantly instead of normal boot, because then it boots right into /root and it is possible to start gdm/lightdm/xdm and then login graphically to the encrypted /home of the user; but that also has limitations. It only works with the first generated user (semi-administrative/pseudo-root/first-user/administrator) or if i setup the other users in a second CompactFlash-Adapter and give them administrative-rights manually from the logged in first-user-account and also setup a group which has to be the same on any accounts that should be used from pcmcia.

Well, you see, i experienced a lot and i have had the feeling all the time, that i don't see what's clear and right in front of my eyes. Or maybe it is really that hard to accomplish the task? Then maybe, there is a way to automate this procedure?

However i will give Ubuntu 11.10 another try with the setup-directions you spend.

Thank you very much for your effort.

If you have other options or knowledge where the failure in my doing can be found, please, feel free to cut it to pieces and give me advice.

Thank you.

Claudius Raphael Paeth, A3lyphe

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sorry, but i saw your reply only now. I know it's been months since, but have you found a solution to your question? Might I add that you could try asking this on IRC (#ubuntu on freenode.net), the Forums (ubuntuforums.org) or the Mailing List (ubuntu-users). I do not why the driver is loading up late. This is a question for the devs! –  rigved Dec 30 '11 at 6:25

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