I am using Debian/GNU 2.2 with linux 2.4.4. ext2 filesystems, like so:
/ read only (includes /usr)
/boot read only
/home read write
/var read write
/dos read write (FAT32 fs where mp3's are stored)
If the system is shutdown improperly, it only takes about 60 seconds to do a FSCK on the read write partitions since they are only about 500mb each. The FAT32 partition doesn't get FSCK'ed.