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B.2. The Directory Tree

Debian GNU/Linux adheres to the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard for directory and file naming. This standard allows users and software programs to predict the location of files and directories. The root level directory is represented simply by the slash /. At the root level, all Debian systems include these directories:

Directory Content
bin Essential command binaries
boot Static files of the boot loader
dev Device files
etc Host-specific system configuration
home User home directories
lib Essential shared libraries and kernel modules
media Contains mount points for replaceable media
mnt Mount point for mounting a file system temporarily
proc Virtual directory for system information (2.4 and 2.6 kernels)
root Home directory for the root user
sbin Essential system binaries
sys Virtual directory for system information (2.6 kernels)
tmp Temporary files
usr Secondary hierarchy
var Variable data
opt Add-on application software packages

The following is a list of important considerations regarding directories and partitions. Note that disk usage varies widely given system configuration and specific usage patterns. The recommendations here are general guidelines and provide a starting point for partitioning.

  • The root partition / must always physically contain /etc, /bin, /sbin, /lib and /dev, otherwise you won't be able to boot. Typically 150–250 MB is needed for the root partition.

  • /usr: contains all user programs (/usr/bin), libraries (/usr/lib), documentation (/usr/share/doc), etc. This is the part of the file system that generally takes up most space. You should provide at least 500 MB of disk space. This amount should be increased depending on the number and type of packages you plan to install. A generous workstation or server installation should allow 4-6 GB.

  • /var: variable data like news articles, e-mails, web sites, databases, the packaging system cache, etc. will be placed under this directory. The size of this directory depends greatly on the usage of your system, but for most people will be dictated by the package management tool's overhead. If you are going to do a full installation of just about everything Debian has to offer, all in one session, setting aside 2 or 3 gigabyte of space for /var should be sufficient. If you are going to install in pieces (that is to say, install services and utilities, followed by text stuff, then X, ...), you can get away with 300–500 MB. If hard drive space is at a premium and you don't plan on doing major system updates, you can get by with as little as 30 or 40 MB.

  • /tmp: temporary data created by programs will most likely go in this directory. 40–100 MB should usually be enough. Some applications — including archive manipulators, CD/DVD authoring tools, and multimedia software — may use /tmp to temporarily store image files. If you plan to use such applications, you should adjust the space available in /tmp accordingly.

  • /home: every user will put his personal data into a subdirectory of this directory. Its size depends on how many users will be using the system and what files are to be stored in their directories. Depending on your planned usage you should reserve about 100 MB for each user, but adapt this value to your needs. Reserve a lot more space if you plan to save a lot of multimedia files (MP3, movies) in your home directory.

 
 
  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire