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Thread: Multiple Systems using the same /Home partition

  1. #1
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    Multiple Systems using the same /Home partition

    After this fiasco trying to upgrade from 10.04 to 12.04, I changed the way I partition my drive so that /Home is now in its own partition.

    In the event I have to reinstall a fresh Ubuntu, I can, in theory, leave my home partition alone and not lose anything.

    However, I have been thinking about trying to install several flavors of Ubuntu such Xubuntu or Kbuntu and having them installed in separate partitions, but sharing the same partitions for /home and swap.

    Any thoughts?

    Buck
    Main WS: Compaq Presario/Athelon X2 4450e Dual Core/3GB RAM/G-Force 210 64bit 1024k RAM Monitors: Compaq WF 1907 & Vizio M220VA --- Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
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  2. #2
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    Re: Multiple Systems using the same /Home partition

    In fact you don't even need separate partitions; you can simply:

    Code:
    sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop kubuntu-desktop
    and then choose between Xfce or KDE from the login screen depending on your mood that day.

    I agree that having a separate /home is sensible.

  3. #3
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    Re: Multiple Systems using the same /Home partition

    Thanks. I don't have separate drives unless I make my USB-1.5TB External drive the /home partition (a thought!) but I was thinking I can install and delete those systems I am not happy with or use it in an upgrade test.

    For example, I might install 12.04 twice, then use one for the upgrade test. If it crashes, I lose nothing and if it works, I might back it up and restore it over the first version for the next upgrade, or for a clean install.

    Just part of what I am considering.
    Main WS: Compaq Presario/Athelon X2 4450e Dual Core/3GB RAM/G-Force 210 64bit 1024k RAM Monitors: Compaq WF 1907 & Vizio M220VA --- Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
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  4. #4
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    Re: Multiple Systems using the same /Home partition

    My advice is to use your external drive for backup, and do a fresh reinstall of the release you want to use. Since you will have a separate /home you never need to worry about "update testing;" when there is a new release, you simply do a fresh install keeping your old /home.

  5. #5
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    Re: Multiple Systems using the same /Home partition

    Using the same user home directory for different linux distributions is not recommended. However, in case you are just installing different flavours of the same Ubuntu edition, there is not any recommendation against using the same home dir.

    As snowpine indicated, it may be easier to install different desktops in the same installation if you want to test the different flavours. However, doing so may result in some clutter throughout the different desktops, and occasionally may result in small issues, although probably mostly just aestetical ones.

  6. #6
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    Re: Multiple Systems using the same /Home partition

    I had 10.10 installed with a separate /home partition. When I installed the next OS I simply deleted the directories in its /home directory (except /desktop and hidden stuff, of course) and instead used symlinks to the existing directories in the /home partition. Easy. For other releases I've done the same.

    Now I'm on 12.04 and use symlinks in its /home directory to the directories on the /home partition.

    I see no reason why you can also not use the same /home in a regular way. Not sure why it is 'not recommended'. Worked fine for me. I had three installs and I used 'something else' in the install to manually partition, tick 'Use Partition' for /home and /swap but made sure not to set them to format. The install then automagically creates a new /home folder inside the existing /home partition, but you can access all user folders in /home at anytime.

    Bit cumbersome which is why I changed to symlinks.
    Last edited by Bucky Ball; February 17th, 2013 at 07:27 PM.

  7. #7
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    Re: Multiple Systems using the same /Home partition

    OK, let's see if I understand you correctly.

    Hypothetically, I have the following partitions:
    sda1 2GB (boot-1)
    sda2 2GB (boot-2)
    sda3 2GB (boot-3)
    sda4 4GB (Swap - Shared by all)
    sda5 20GB / (root 1)
    sda6 20GB / (root 2)
    sda7 20GB / (root 3)
    sda8 430GB /home (shared by all)

    Obviously, sda1 would be where Grub hides and offers to boot from each system. The rest would be part of an extended partition. This should give plenty of room for growth as well.

    I think that what you were saying is that when I have installed all three, my /home partition will look like:

    /home/home/home

    Is that correct?
    Main WS: Compaq Presario/Athelon X2 4450e Dual Core/3GB RAM/G-Force 210 64bit 1024k RAM Monitors: Compaq WF 1907 & Vizio M220VA --- Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
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  8. #8
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    Re: Multiple Systems using the same /Home partition

    Quote Originally Posted by Bucky Ball View Post
    Not sure why it is 'not recommended'.
    To be clear: you can indeed use the same /home, but using the same user home directories under different linux flavours is what is not recommended. Different versions of software might use different formats of their configuration data. If that is the case, the software may malfunction in one of the distro's making use of the same config data.

    My approach to the same is: I move my old home directory away, then selectively copy back what I think is not a problem, e.g. my thunderbird profile and firefox bookmarks, among others. After a few months, the old home dir can be deleted.

  9. #9
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    Re: Multiple Systems using the same /Home partition

    ^ That's kind of a weird partition scheme you have there. All you really need are 3 partitions:

    / partition for Ubuntu with multiple desktops (KDE, Xfce, whatever you want; choose between them at the login screen)
    /home partition
    swap

  10. #10
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    Re: Multiple Systems using the same /Home partition

    Quote Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
    ^ That's kind of a weird partition scheme you have there. All you really need are 3 partitions:

    / partition for Ubuntu with multiple desktops (KDE, Xfce, whatever you want; choose between them at the login screen)
    /home partition
    swap

    The purpose of multiple partitions is to be able to delete and replace the existing OS for that partition. So, for example, I can work on 12.04 LTS and still have one to try 12.10. If I decide I don't like it, I won't upgrade to it, etc.
    Main WS: Compaq Presario/Athelon X2 4450e Dual Core/3GB RAM/G-Force 210 64bit 1024k RAM Monitors: Compaq WF 1907 & Vizio M220VA --- Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
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