Do not waste my hard disk!
I recently acquired an 2 TB hard disk drive, which I immediately formatted with ext4. Given that mkfs.ext4 defaults to 5% reserved blocks for too, that amounts to 100 GB of lost* space.
Wow. 100 GB. On a desktop machine. For root.
While mkfs belongs to e2fsprogs, I think this requires action on the distributions side. Let me explain.
If you are installing a server, 5% makes perfect sense: there are a lot of logfiles, updates, potential break-ins and other disasters-to-happen for which root-reserved space will be preciously required. 5% is a good choice here. If 5% is too much (or too little), it will not matter: any decent sysadmin knows mkfs.ext4 -m and tune2fs -m (if you don’t, Martin will teach you).
On the other hand, if you are installing Ubuntu on your laptop, you probably don’t know shit about mkfs, tune2fs, 5%, etc. You only know by removing Windows and installing Linux you’ve magically lost 100GB of space. Vanished.
So here is my request to Linux distributions: when installing a distribution in “desktop profile” (i. e. not Debian in “server” profile, RHEL, SLES, Ubuntu Server, etc), DO NOT RESERVE 5% to root. 100 or 200 MEGABYTES should be more than enough.
* Yes, I know it’s not really “lost” but just “unusable by normal users” but that technicality doesn’t matter to 99% of the people out there.