With lots of guides and setup variations all over the internet, I find it confusing which is which to really follow. Normally, in Windows 8 my setup would be install everything in the HDD and use Intel Smart Response for a speedy setup. However as I am new to Linux I really don't know what to do.

My ideal setup would be something similar to this, but I know for a fact that IRST is not available in Linux so what I intend to do is keep the OS files in the SSD instead and keep my media on the larger HDD. A step by step procedure would be extremely helpful.

Edit: I want a system running solely on Ubuntu, with the SSD to speed things up but setting it in such a way that it does not hasten its lifespan.

# /etc/fstab: static file system information. 
# Use 'blkid' to print the universally unique identifier for a 
# device; this may be used with UUID= as a more robust way to name devices 
# that works even if disks are added and removed. See fstab(5). 
# <file system> <mount point> <type> <options> <dump> <pass>

# / was on /dev/sda1 during installation 
UUID=80289460-5983-4349-8afc-6f3119938ee9 / ext4 errors=remount-ro 0 1 

# /files was on /dev/sdb5 during installation 
UUID=c1678c88-5100-41bc-8090-7887f1622c7f /files ext4 defaults 0 2 

# swap was on /dev/sdb6 during installation 
UUID=608e3ec2-c76e-4657-af6d-80793b5f50f6 none swap sw 0 0
  • See advantages of separate /home partition on-HDD-SSD setup.
    – user68186
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 15:31
  • 2
    Thank you for the link but as I said I am new to Linux, I am not familiar with symlinks etc. Any guide that has no real starting point or just a hint of solution to my confusion is of little help. I just want something like a 10-step list to do it.
    – Allen
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 15:39
  • 1
    Are you planning to dual boot Windows 8 and Ubuntu or delete Windows and make the laptop an Ubuntu only system?
    – user68186
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 16:10
  • I want a system running solely on Ubuntu, with the SSD to speed things up but setting it in such a way that it does not hasten its lifespan. I know how to clean wipe my drives so step 1 can begin with the actual installation.
    – Allen
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 16:16
  • @user68186, this cannot be done if I need to dual boot Ubuntu and Windows ? Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 10:28

3 Answers 3



There are other alternatives, bcache, flashcache, dm-cache, EnhanceIO etc. that allow Ubuntu to use a small SSD and a large HDD in ways similar to Windows. See

What are the advantages/disadvantages of different SSD to HDD cacheing options (dm-cache, flashcashe...)? for differences between these.

I have no experience with these tools. See How do I install and use flashcache/bcache to cache HDD to SSD? and ArchLinux Wiki on Bcache for more on some of these methods. Thanks to Fabby for pointing me to these resources.

Original Answer

You are right. The way Windows 8 uses a small SSD and a large HDD is not available to Ubuntu.

Keeping Ubuntu OS in the SSD and the media in HHD makes sense. The /home folder (or partition) usually keeps all the media, documents, for all the users. It also keeps all the user-specific configuration files. So keeping the /home on the SSD will speed up things as the configuration files will be read quickly.

Step 1

Disable Intel Smart Response in BIOS/UEFI. Disable Secure Boot and Fast Boot. Enable Legacy Mode in BIOS if available.

Step 2

Boot from a Live DVD/USB of the version of Ubuntu you want to install and choose "Try Ubuntu." Make sure keyboard, mouse/trackpad, display, sound, Internet connections, webcam and any other things you can think off work in Ubuntu.

Step 3

Install Ubuntu in the SSD. If Legacy Mode in BIOS could not be enabled, see Ubuntu UEFI documentation on how to install. For someone new, it is easier to just have one / ext4 formatted partition with mount point / in the SSD. You can create a second /home partition in the SSD if you want, but that is not essential.

When you get to the point where you have to choose where to install(“Installation Type”),

enter image description here

choose “Something Else”. A new screen will pop out letting you choose where to install Ubuntu, format, make partitions, etc. Follow carefully the bellow:

  1. Choose and format the smaller disk (SSD) as ext4 and mount point / to install Ubuntu
  2. Choose and format the bigger disk (HDD) ext4 to just store media. Assign it a mount point /bigdrive. Alternately assign mount point /mnt/bigdriveor /media/bigdrive. See Why have both /mnt and /media? for more explanations on these alternates. If you use either of the alternates, modify following steps accordingly.
  3. Create a Swap partition at the end of the HDD and assign it the Swap format. It does not need any mount-point.
  4. Finish install and reboot.

Step 4


  1. Ubuntu boots correctly.
  2. Everything works as they did when you tried Ubuntu from the Live DVD/USB.
  3. Open Nautilus, the file manager (similar to Windows Explorer) and navigate to File Systems. Verify the folder bigdrive exists. If you can't find bigdrive then it did not get mounted at startup. See mount two hard drives on start up how to fix that.
  4. Create a new folder and a new file in it to see you can actually write in the bigdrive. Delete these.

If you cannot create folders and files in the bigdrive follow these steps to fix the write permission.

  • Open terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T and type

    gksudo nautilus

If this does not work, see How do I start Nautilus as root?

  • Enter your password at the prompt.

  • Within Nautilus, go to File System and find the bigdrive folder icon.

  • Right click on and choose Properties.

  • Go to the Permissions tab.

  • Make sure the Group and Others can Create and Delete Files.

enter image description here

Step 5

  1. Move the big folders in your /home/$USER folder to /bigdrive/$USER. You can do this in Nautilus using "Create New Folder" (for creating the user folder), "Cut" and "Paste" (for the directories). Let's say these folders are:

    ~/bin, ~/Desktop, ~/Documents, ~/Downloads, ~/Music, ~/Pictures, ~/Public, ~/Templates and ~/Videos

  2. Make symbolic links. Open a Terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T and type each line and press Enter: (replace "$USER" by your user name)

    ln -s /bigdrive/$USER/bin/ bin

    ln -s /bigdrive/$USER/Desktop/ Desktop

    ln -s /bigdrive/$USER/Documents/ Documents

    ln -s /bigdrive/$USER/Downloads/ Downloads

    ln -s /bigdrive/$USER/Music/ Music

    ln -s /bigdrive/$USER/Pictures/ Pictures

    ln -s /bigdrive/$USER/Public/ Public

    ln -s /bigdrive/$USER/Templates/ Templates

    ln -s /bigdrive/$USER/Videos/ Videos

More details are at Installing Ubuntu on Samsung 5 (SSD+HDD)

Hope this helps

  • Thanks for the straightforward instructions, will definitely test this as soon as my Ubuntu installer download is complete.
    – Allen
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 17:30
  • You are welcome. Feel free to comment if something does not work as expected. I will edit the answer accordingly.
    – user68186
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 17:33
  • Great everything is working as it should except the big drive. There seems to be permission conflicts, how do I set it? By default read and write are restricted to my account and the option to manage this through GUI is disabled.
    – Allen
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 0:54
  • 1
    +1, excellent answer. Make use of linux's mount points and symlinks. It would require slight setup and maintenance (maybe as new root folders are added), but the whole setup process could be scripted for automated deployment in the future, another bonus.
    – MDMoore313
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 14:01
  • 1
    @Fabby Thanks. I updated the answer with your information.
    – user68186
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 18:43

Short answer: just put the entire filesystem, including home directories, on the SSD, and just mount the HDD somewhere that you can get to it easily, for big files (movies/music/photos, etc).

SSD life

Firstly, you don't need to worry about lifespan with a modern SSD. It'll have a much higher lifetime than an HDD. Even if you write to it heavily, gigabytes or millions of files per day, it'll last decades. Its heads won't crash and it won't be affected by vibration, change in temperature etc like hard drives are. Wear-levelling ensures that you can write to it heavily for many years. (That said, don't do something silly and go without backups.)

What benefits most from an SSD

For ensuring a fast system, the most important parts of your filesystem are, in order:

  • Home directories. This is where your browser caches, thumbnail caches, desktop configuration and so on is stored. This is very frequently read from and written to, so it should be on the SSD - in fact this is the most important part of the system to be on an SSD.

  • /tmp and /var directory. These are fairly frequently written to, but less so than the above. You can use tmpfs for /tmp if you like, but I put both of them on the SSD.

  • /etc and /usr. These are rarely written to but fairly often read from, and will contribute to a faster boot, among other things, if they're on the SSD.

My advice

What I do is simply put the entire root filesystem on the SSD, and mount the HDD under a mount point like /drives/BIGDRIVE (you can use /mnt/BIGDRIVE if you like as many people do; I prefer to use a non-standard directory like /drives over using a standard directory like /mnt for other than its intended purpose).

Then, I symlink into directories on /drives/BIGDRIVE from my home directory. For example, /home/myuser/Data is a symlink into /drives/BIGDRIVE/Data/myuser and /home/myuser/Media is a symlink into /drives/BIGDRIVE/Media. The symlinks to a separate location allow me to later modify the directory structures of the mount points (say, if I wanted to separate media onto a new drive) but keep the same directory structure in my home directory. I use all-caps for the name of the drive's mount point, don't ask me why.

P.S. I do this on Windows (including Windows 8) too. It is still superior to have the SSD as the system drive and just mount the HDD as D:, instead of using Intel Smart Response or similar.


IRST is not available in Linux

There are alternatives such as bcache. See How do I install and use flashcache/bcache to cache HDD to SSD?

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