User Directories on a 2nd Partition

pevans
New Contributor

Ater a bit of searching it seems like most of the discussions concerning moving user's home directories to a 2nd partition are all at least a few years old.

My first question is if there are still people doing this? If so how are you managing this in Yosemite?

This article seems to be referenced many times:

https://macmule.com/2012/07/31/how-to-use-fstab-within-a-casper-imaging-workflow/

Is this still the preferred method or at this point is it not even worth the hassle?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreicated.

9 REPLIES 9

mm2270
Legendary Contributor II

I'm not completely sure, but I believe the answer is, its not worth the hassle in most cases. The only advantage it likely retains from when it was more commonly used is the user data can be left intact and the OS partition can be reformatted and "re-imaged", which is an advantage. But I think actually getting it to work and maintain probably ends up creating more headaches than it solves.
That said, maybe someone out there still using it has some more relevant thoughts on the matter.

Chris
Valued Contributor

Keep in mind that this gets "interesting" if you're planning to use FileVault 2
(that's when we stopped partitioning).
It's possible, but not worth the effort imho.

perrycj
Contributor III

We started to use a modified version of @bentoms workflow and it works fine. This workflow continues to work as expected as of 10.10.2.

However, it can get tricky and difficult as @mm2270 and @Chris suggest and it is essentially a complete no-go if you use any type of encryption in your environment.

There was also a separate presentation on the same idea but different workflow from JNUC 2013 using a very complex perl script to make and maintain the "Users" partition separate from the OS partition. I believe it was presented by the folks from Oxford U. and can be found on youtube. Hope this helps.

jacob_salmela
Contributor II

I do this using some shell scripts based off of @bentoms work. It still seems to work, but we have a pretty simple environment (no Fusion drives or FV2).

I have found that it definitely makes things more complex and difficult to manage, which is why I just use it with a few staff members so that I can quickly re-image without destroying their data.

bentoms
Honored Contributor III
Honored Contributor III

We use it across our fleet. But with Yosemite, Apple has moved to CoreStorage as the default format & that makes it trickier.

& as @jacob_salmela FV2 & fusion drives will not work with it.

We may move to a single partition with something like CrashPlan to backup accounts etc.

jamestoher
New Contributor III

There's a reference to moving users off the system volume somewhere on support.apple.com where the practise is pretty strongly deprecated. IIRC it suggests you are likely to take a performance hit. Mac OS X user prefs are best treated as part of the OS during any device migration, or system upgrade, so there's no real benefit in trying to separate homes Linux style from the rest of the build.

bentoms
Honored Contributor III
Honored Contributor III

@jamestoher Except you can reimage Mac's & preserve the user data.

We're going to stick with it for 10.10 & have used the FSATB method since 10.6.

But we're not using either FV2 or fusion drives on users macs.

davidacland
Honored Contributor II
Honored Contributor II

We've done this a few times at clients sites. Started with the FSTAB method a few years ago but due to an incompatibility with Paprika (accounting software), had to change it to a symbolic link :(

Got around the "FileVault only encrypting the boot volume" issue with a modified version of https://github.com/jridgewell/Unlock/blob/master/install.sh with "diskutil cs -convert" to encrypt the volume . The script from jridgewell allows you to unlock an encrypted disk before the login window. It worked well, behaviour is a bit like an institutional key. The key is exposed in the scripts section of the JSS but is still better than no encryption at all.

Its quite useful being able to re-image the boot partition without losing data but I do find it a bit too much of a faff.

I've been using createOSXinstallpkg more recently which installs the OS rather than re-imaging, but that was you can avoid deleting user data on the boot volume.

jamestoher
New Contributor III

Mac OS X system upgrade and it's friend Migration Assistant will clean up user prefs so they match the new point release. I've given up on trying to outsmart Apple. Usually ends in tears.