Mixing home directory with Linux and ZFS


I have an interesting situation. My DE of choice is KDE and since Linux is supported it’s not much of a problem to run Linux apps. But it does not seem to support my tablet very much. It picks up on clicks but not movement, making it useless.

However, the tablet works great under Linux.

Now, I need to do some graphics work and since I have separated my home directory to a different pool than the O/S I can in theory swap out the O/S and do my graphics work, and have Thunderbird still download email (POP).
So I had this thought I wonder how well ZFS works under Linux? I don’t need access to anything but Thunderbird while I work on graphics.
One supporting reason to use TrueOS was what I perceive as being better supported here than under the Linux branch.

Of course KDE can potentially offer up some incompatibilities as they share some directories with earlier versions and I’ve never been able to figure out how well KDE deals with the different versions of config files. KDE does say to point to a different set of directories when you want two different QT versions installed.

Of course it would be so much easier if I could get the tablet to work here… :slight_smile: (XP-Pen, a battery less nice and inexpensive tablet.)

Any input is of course appreciated!

A maybe more important question could be ZFS version support.

I can bypass KDE to run Krita in any DE.


I would be skeptical of whether your data would be safe giving both TOS and any Linux distro access to the same home directory. Last I knew it’s wasn’t as up to date / support isn’t as good in Linux. It’s one thing if it’s something like a USB where is not as vital as your home directory.

It may sound like a pain but, depending on the size of your home partition, would you be able to mirror it into a second home partition and have the two sync or create a separate partition for the data you want to be able to use on both systems? That way you’re not risking your data as much.


It should work OK as long as the ZFS version and feature flags are compatible. That is probably the difficult thing. Some features (like granting zfs permissions to users other than root) don’t work on Linux (for now), but exporting a pool from FreeBSD and importing it into Linux should work fine. That’s what makes ZFS universal.


To add a bit more to @tqfs and @twschulz and the version/flags:
If FreeBSD ZFS pool version is greater than Linux version, it may not import or it may import and some things may not work. Same thing with flags: unsuported flags don’t work.

I like “popping” my email instead of leaving it on the providers server, but a workaround would be to simply use the Web interface to the email while in Linux. That would leave it up on the server, Tbird will pull it down later.

Data: You could have a Linux partition for the data and FreeBSD could mount it and give access to your BSD user.


Thanks guys!

@tqfs That was what I suspected. The version numbers are off and I’ve seen how the Linux version is trailing FreeBSD in features. Mirroring is an interesting workaround however inefficient. :slight_smile:

@twschulz It should work going to FreeBSD but who knows what would show up on Linux. The whole issue lies of course in keeping sent (mail) copies on one place.

I loaded up OpenZFS from Ubuntu and I can see the ZFS partitions using fdisk -l, but the version numbers are off and it did show flags it did not recognize. It did not show up on zpool import and I had to use fdisk to see that it was there. Interestingly it added an icon to the desktop pointing to the pool but would not go further without more debugging and I did not want to mess it up. The steps to add ZFS are a few simple commands and I could probably have created pools.

@mer Yeah, I’ve been leaning towards either adding a separate account and CC it from Linux, or more likely what you suggested, using IMAP and at least be able to see what emails have come in.

I’ve never tried to POP an IMAP sent folder to see if that simply comes back in or what might be needed. (To get any replies sent using IMAP.) Rules/filters are handy as I have a lot of accounts for different things, to keep my sanity, so if they will be “imported” I’ll get it into the right sent folder.

This was really a stab in the dark and certainly what one would call unusual solution, but that’s part of the fun with technology, to find different ways of utilizing it.

Using anything but ZFS for data is out of the question as that is one of the two top reasons I moved to FreeBSD/TrueOS. But yeah, that would have been a simple solution.


It’s definitely an interesting thought. I may give it a try, just to tinker, if things every catch up between TOS and Linux on the ZFS front. I usually just keep one partition or a second hard drive for shared data, formatted in a common fs, for situations like that.

I’ve never thought to do it the way you described.


Haha, what you do see, is to get an old version of FreeBSD that has a compatible ZFS version. :smile:

If I had been using IMAP all along it would have been OK, but I prefer not to keep anything out of my reach and be responsible for my own data. Becomes a lot harder when you don’t even know where it is. For backup is one thing, but not for production.


One other thing I did not mentioned is that if I try to boot in a new OS and with a pool drive inserted the boot just hangs. I have to remove it and do a live insert.

Originally the data pool had a full install on it. I simply flagged those directories to not automatically mount. That has probably left something which confuses the boot process. Those two drives in the home mirror are not even listed as a boot options in BIOS.


I know Windows will sometimes lock partitions, so that only it can access it, when it shuts down or if it’s shut down wrong. Idk the flag used for this but I wonder if whatever OS was on the drive did the same thing.