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Re: ReiserFS with Debian (Potato)?

Morten Liebach <morten@hotpost.dk> writes:

> Hi all.
Hi Morten,

>  I'm contemplating installing debian on ReiserFS like this:
> 1: Install Debian.
> 2: Patch & compile kernel with ReiserFS support.
> 3: Backup the partitons [1] one after one and reformat them with
>    ReiserFS, restore from backup.
> 4: Be very happy! :-)
> Has anyone reading this done this before?

Yes.  I'm running ReiserFS under my /home partition.  It's
particularly nice when I'm booting after an unclean shutdown.  It
takes the ext2 partitions 5 minutes or more to fsck, and the reiserfs
partition of the same size just replays the journal and mounts, all in
about 5 *seconds*.

There are reports of ReiserFS not working with kernel-space NFS and
some problems with tar (because tar depends on certain inode behavior,
which is not present in ReiserFS).  I'm happy with user-space NFS, and
I use afio for backups, which works.  Some people actually recommend
using Samba/smbfs as a replacement for NFS.

Note: you *can* use ReiserFS on your root partition.  It involves
making a boot disk with ReiserFS support compiled into the kernel, and
mounting your root partition with the -notails option.  The latter is
to enable lilo to find the whole kernel -- it may not be necessary if
you use grub instead.

Also Note: I'm using stable ReiserFS, for 2.2.x kernels.  Things are
changing a lot for the 2.4-pre branch.

> [1]: What should I use for this, I have two HDD's, and will have the
> backup on one (6Gig), and work on the other (10Gig). A simple ``cp''
> will do, but there might be somthing better, recommendations?

I used cpio to retain all possible file attributes.  Don't ask about
specifics - I'd have to look it up again on the manpage at this point.
As for the method, mine was essentially identical to what you outlined
above.  One difficulty I ran into was that lilo stopped booting from
the hard drive, and the newest boot disk I had was from Hamm.  Turns
out that the ext2 filesystem has changed since then in a
non-backward-compatible way.  Things got a little hairy, but after a
hamm install on top of Potato, some manual tweaking, and recovery of
my dpkg data from backup tapes, things were smoothed over in a matter
of a couple days.  But that was probably my fault; I wouldn't worry
about it.  (But how nice it would have been to have a working rescue
floppy for Potato at that time!)  As long as you know what to watch
out for, you'll be fine.

I'm pasting below the contents of a recent post to the reiserfs
mailing list that is becoming a reiserfs FAQ.  For more information,
I'd suggest the Reiser web site (which you probably have already
perused) and the mailing list.

Q> From: Dr A V Le Blanc <LeBlanc@mcc.ac.uk>
Q> Subject: (reiserfs) Debian install a success
Q> To: reiserfs@devlinux.com
Q> Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 18:17:40 +0100
Q> Reply-To: Dr A V Le Blanc <LeBlanc@mcc.ac.uk>
Q> I succeeded with little trouble in installing Debian potato with
Q> reiserfs as its root partition.  I'll summarise the process for those
Q> who are interested.
Q> I created a boot floppy with a kernel supporting reiserfs and
Q> a root floppy with the mkfs.reiserfs on it.  I did find it useful
Q> to mount and umount each mkfs-ed partition, since it takes a
Q> good deal of time for the first install.
Q> I rebooted using my reiserfs kernel but the potato root disk.
Q> I then installed as normal, with the following exceptions:
Q> (1)  The Debian install procedure does not know about reiserfs,
Q>     so I had to mount the various filesystems manually.  Then
Q>     I picked another item from the menu.  The first time this
Q>     fails since the install program does not know the root
Q>     partition is mounted (on target), but then it figures this
Q>     out and proceeds normally.
Q> (2)  The install procedure writes a correct /etc/fstab for all
Q>     partitions except the root, to which it incorrectly gives
Q>     a file type of ext2.  Simply edit this before rebooting.
Q> (3)  The install procedure installs a kernel which knows nothing
Q>     about reiserfs.  I just replaced this with my kernel, and
Q>     put the appropriate modules in /lib/modules.
Q> (4)  I use grub instead of Debian's mbr or LILO, so I simply
Q>     'dpkg --delete mbr' and install grub before rebooting the
Q>     first time.  The latest grub supports reiserfs.
Q> I chose to do this because I had a machine with a hardware fault
Q> which needed frequent rebooting.  This of course led to a number
Q> of corruption problems even with reiserfs, but we eventually
Q> ran the problem down to faulty sims (thanks to memcheck-86).
Q> To avoid possible problems, I've reinstalled again, again using
Q> reiserfs.  The machine has run beautifully ever since.
Q> I've been digging through the mailing list, and seen occasional
Q> remarks about FAQs, but no pointer to a reiserfs FAQ.  Can I
Q> presume none exists at this time?
Q>      -- Owen
Q>      LeBlanc@mcc.ac.uk

Good luck!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of
yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should

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