I currently have Lubuntu 12.10 installed on my computer in a dual boot configuration with Win 7. I mostly access it by loading the Linux partition with a mapped vmdk in VirtualBox, but sometimes I do boot into it directly.

I would like to move home to a separate partition. In order to back up this data along with the rest of my through Windows without a lot of fuss, I would like to have /home in a virtual disk. The problem is that when I boot directly into Linux, this virtual disk will not be available.

With the way I use things, not having the normal home data available when booting directly into Linux is not a problem, but I wasn't sure what Linux would do? Is it possible or advisable to create second /home partition that would be used for direct booting?

  • coteyr has given a helpful comparison of the advantages of using a second mapped partition instead of a virtual one. The question that still remains is what would happen if I installed Linux with the system on a mapped partition and /home on a virtual partition and then tried to boot into it directly. – CWeinhofer Apr 11 '13 at 2:44

You have created your virtual box definition incorrectly. Your best option is to create real partitions that way they are available to linux and the virtual machine.

I would create a new real partition, add it to the vm, then copy the files over. Then use it for your home partition on both your vbox and your real boot.

I personally use this setup quite a bit. I boot 90% of time in to linux but every once in a while I need Mac, when in Mac I use virtual box to access my linux box.

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  • Thanks for the response. This is what I was planning to do if I couldn't get anything else figured out. However, since I do all of my backups in Windows, trying to back up the files on this partition would be more work then if it was all contained in a vdi file. – CWeinhofer Apr 11 '13 at 0:04
  • Yes, but it would be independent of which OS you booted to. – coteyr Apr 11 '13 at 0:15

I'd make Linux do the backup, it gives you a wide choice of tools: tar + gzip, git, nilfs, even dd for the paranoids.

Alternatively, keep the files on a FAT or NTFS physical partition, which you mount under the Linux home. You can either mount the whole partition as a single directory, or mount the folders passing the option --bind to the mount command.

This allows both systems to access the files. (/home won't work on a FAT.)

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