Adding Hard Disk Drive to Dell

So, this was interesting (to me). I got a new hard disk drive at work, to expand the capacity of my primary machine there, which is a Dell. Here’s the play-by-play of the process:

  1. Get a cup of tea.
  2. Open the case. No tools necessary.
  3. Take a sip of tea.
  4. Get the new drive out of its packaging.
  5. Pop the plastic drive holder out of the drive bay.
  6. Take another sip of tea.
  7. Put the drive into the plastic drive holder.
  8. Slide the disk holder into the drive bay.
  9. Attach the power and data cables.
  10. Close the case.
  11. Take another sip of tea.

So the entire process was probably no more than 10 minutes, and more likely, five. The cables were routed very well, and the interior of the Dell machine was very “clean”.

After reboot, the new hard drive was not displayed by dmesg, so after a bit of puzzlement, the machine was rebooted and I went into the BIOS, enabling all of the SATA ports. Alas, while that enabled the new hard drive, it also resulted in error messages about no device being found for the other SATA ports, enabled but without a device. From the BIOS, it was not at all difficult to figure out which SATA ports were not occupied. I hadn’t looked closely at the motherboard to see if the ports were marked 0 through 3.

Setting up the new hard drive was simple: I partitioned it (fdisk /dev/sdb) into two partitions, created a filesystem on each (mkfs.ext3 /dev/sdb[12]) and mounted them as /Depot and /Files, following the design of GoboLinux (and to a lesser extent, OS X). Mounting was straightforward, adding the following lines to /etc/fstab:

        /dev/sdb1               /Depot                  ext3    defaults        1 2
        /dev/sdb2               /Files                  ext3    defaults        1 2

In comparison to LVM, I find the old way of managing drives and partitions easier, although with the disadvantage of having to migrate data, unless, as in my case here, when the partitions are not replacing any existing ones.

My work projects were moved to /Depot, which made sense to me, since they are no longer “hidden” in /home/jpace or under /usr/users/mycompany. Similarly, audio files were moved to /Files/Audio. I may add /Programs as the target for installing new software (including our own), instead of what I’ve been using, /opt.

Alternative Linux File System Hierarchy

The GoboLinux project looks interesting, in terms of their alternative file system hierarchy for Linux. As a long-term Linux user (10+ years), and Unix before that, I still do not grok where files should go. I view the home directory of a user as being private, so my common files (such as audio) as well as projects (work) do not seem to fit. I like the idea of /Files and /Depot directories, respectively for those two issues.

This may be pedantic, but it also seems that bin is wrong, in a conventional distribution, since those files are actually executables, not binary — many are scripts — and one would not think of putting true binary files, such as MP3s, in /usr/local/bin. That also raises the question — unsatisfactorily answered, to me — about what “local” means. Not shared? Not public?

I also like that Opera — my preferred browser — is included. It doesn’t seem that the bane of my favorite distribution, Fedora, is “fixed”, in that for example, proprietary (non-GPLed) codecs are included in the core distribution of GoboLinux.

The GoboLinux project seems to borrow from the design of the OS X file system hierarchy, which I’ve liked. I’d like to see programs filed according to the “domain” of their source, such as /Programs/org/apache/....