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unburden-home-dir uploaded to Sid //at 02:54 //by abe

from the Good-for-NFS-as-well-as-SSDs dept.

Most popular web browsers cause quite a lot of I/O on a user’s home directory and their cache’s also take up quite some disk space – with Google’s Chrome/Chromium you can’t even configure how much disk space should be used for the cache.

This causes unnecessary network traffic and no more makes sense if the home directory itself comes over the network, e.g. via NFS or Samba. And on laptops it spins up the disks and unnecessarily costs battery power and therefore lowers the potential battery life.

Such caches also costs scarce disk space on SSDs or flash cards as common in laptops, netbooks and other mobile devices, and often get backed up without any real use.

To take some of this burden off our NFS servers at work I started to develop an Xsession.d hook which moves off such caches to the local disk and puts in symbolic links instead into the user’s home directory when the user locally logs in.

This hook quickly became a standalone Perl script named unburden-home-dir and the Xsession.d hook just a wrapper around it. Due to some unsolved issues I didn’t feel it’s good enough for Debian Unstable, so I uploaded it just to Debian Experimental back then.

Pietro Abate’s recent blog posting about unburden-home-dir on Planet Debian gave me the right kick to make another try to solve the remaining issues.

And the mental distance gained over the time indeed helped and I could fix the remaining issues. So I added some polish to the package and uploaded it to Debian Unstable.

If you used the previous version from experimental, you have to take care of a few things:

  • Previously some configuration files sported unburden_home_dir as base name while others used unburden-home-dir as base name as that’s also the package name. Now all configuration files use the package name, i.e. unburden-home-dir as base name.
  • “Conffiles” under /etc/ should be renamed by dpkg automatically, but per-user configuration files ($HOME/.unburden_home_dir and $HOME/.unburden_home_dir_list) must be manually renamed to $HOME/.unburden-home-dir and $HOME/.unburden-home-dir.list.
  • By adding UNBURDEN_HOME=yes to $HOME/.unburden-home-dir every user can decide himself if he wants the Xsession.d hook to be used when he logs in under X. On managed workstations with many users this eases testing of unburden-home-dir with just a few users a lot.

You can follow the development of unburden-home-dir also on GitHub and on Gitorious as well as on Ohloh.


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Hackergotchi of Axel Beckert


Debian GNU/Linux is my favourite Linux distribution, being stable, flexible, consistent and having a great community. Although I'm not the biggest bug report writer, I try to contribute by staffing the Debian booth at events, carrying the necessary hardware there or even organising the whole booth.

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