Antec - a Tenzy custom build

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A Tenzy custom-built desktop PC in an Antec case


  • 8GB RAM
  • 500GB hard drive
  • 60GB SSD
  • AMD FX 6300 3.5GHz
  • ASRock 960GM/U3S3 FX AM3+ motherboard

How to install Mint on a PC with SSD and hard drive

Installing Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon onto a custom built PC with 8GB RAM and a 500GB hard drive and a 60GB SSD. How should the Linux be partitioned across the two drives for optimal performance and long life?

Which file system on the SSD? The standard ext4?

Answer: ext4 link on a desktop and ext2 on a battery-supported laptop link.

Any special rules for the SSD partitions?

"Don't forget to enable the noatime option, that will save a few writes by not updating the access time on the files that you use." link

"The simplest tweak is to mount volumes using the noatime option. By default Linux will write the last accessed time attribute to files. This can reduce the life of your SSD by causing a lot of writes. The noatime mount option turns this off. Open your fstab file:

sudo gedit /etc/fstab

Ubuntu uses the relatime option by default. For your SSD partitions (formatted as ext3), replace relatime with noatime in fstab. Reboot for the changes to take effect" link

Done by adding the ",noatime" to this in /etc/fstab:

# / was on /dev/sdb1 during installation
UUID=51e510ba-7aec-48a8-a689-22db61159041 /               ext4    errors=remount-ro,noatime 0       1

Swap partition

Is a swap partition even needed?

A swap partition is needed for hibernation; this desktop PC is unlikely to need to hibernate. 8GB of RAM is lots… at the moment. Just what does happen when a Linux PC runs out of RAM and there is no swap partition?

Where to put the swap partition?

"I recommend against having swap on your SSD. The swap space is a location where the files are read/written all the time when your computer is heavily loaded. The SSD-based disks should not be read/written all the time, as each "cell" or allocation unit is meant to be read/written so many times, after which they are no more reliable." Link BUT "Modern SSD controllers spread writes across the physical cells regardless of partition layout. Partition layout does not reflect physical layout. If a system needs swap, the next best thing to RAM is an SSD" link AND create two swap drives, one small one on the SSD and a larger on one the HDD. That will allow hibernation. link

Achieved by changing /etc/fstab from:

# swap was on /dev/sda3 during installation
#UUID=ff87bdc0-7da9-44fc-a87a-c5a48d263fc2 none            swap    sw              0       0
# swap was on /dev/sdb5 during installation
#UUID=576a3732-a040-4a3d-8644-18c33cba08c8 none            swap    sw              0       0
/dev/mapper/cryptswap1 none swap sw 0 0
/dev/mapper/cryptswap2 none swap sw 0 0


# swap was on /dev/sda3 during installation
UUID=5b6c456a-3672-4857-880f-ad5d48ba55e0 none            swap    sw,pri=10              0       0
# swap was on /dev/sdb5 during installation
UUID=c503939a-fa2a-466f-a25e-e3fdb3a92e42 none            swap    sw,pri=20              0       0
#/dev/mapper/cryptswap1 none swap sw 0 0
#/dev/mapper/cryptswap2 none swap sw 0 0 

Where to put the \var directory?

There is debate both ways and for putting logs into RAM. I'm going for the SSD.

Where to put the \tmp directory?

Some advise in RAM! On the HDD for longevity of the SSD, on the SSD for speed.

Where to put the \home directory?

On the HDD.

What is TRIM? Does it matter?

"Check what the manufacturer of the SSD says. The folks who made my SDD assert that I don't need to worry about TRIM and optimizations, etc. They claim their firmware makes all of that unnecessary, that the SSD should be used like any other drive." link

"Enabling TRIM is as simple as adding the word ‘discard’ next to the proper drive in your /etc/fstab file, but to pull that off, we’ll need to find the proper /dev/sdX or UUID value for it. Depending on the Linux distro being used, it could be one or the other." link

Lots to read here: link

Turning on TRIM

"Trim" is something to do with letting the operating system know which SSD blocks are not being used and can be cleared. Edit /etc/fstab and added "discard" to the ssd drive partitions, after "ext4":

UUID=bef10b86-494d-41c6-aa46-af72cfba90fd / ext4 discard,errors=remount-ro 0 1

Installing Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon

I selected the SSD for the boot loader installation, despite it being /dev/sdb

/ … /dev/sdb1 … SSD … ext4 … 40GB
/home … /dev/sda1 … HDD … ext4 … 200GB … because Linux Mint advises it has its own partition
/usr/local … /dev/sda5 … HDD … ext4 … 10GB … because that's the point of the exercise
swap … /dev/sdb5 … SSD … swap … 2GB … probably won't get used, so for performance
swap … /dev/sda3 … HDD … swap … 8GB … should it be needed for hibernation or anything else, it will be there.

/tmp will end up on the SSD, for speed.

Other considerations / outstanding

Swappiness from 60 to 10

In the file /etc/sysctl.conf decreased swappiness by adding this line:

vm.swappiness = 10

Apply updates

Just that. Apply updates.
Did NOT follow the advice some give to auto-enable all security updates so that level 4 & 5 updates get applied.
Did NOT install linux-firmware-nonfree
Did not bother with a firewall because there's a router firewall.
Installed ttf-mscorefonts-installer
Set up printers.