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Thread: Sharing Home on separate Partition

  1. #1
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    Sharing Home on separate Partition

    I know some users have their /home directory on a separate partition and understand the mounting requirements in fstab

    Just wondering, could the /home partition be used with different Linux distros? I am thinking similar to Ubuntu like Mint or Debian. Also appreciate the /home directory stores some application settings which may differ but curious if this is an easy option or problematic.

    Ubuntu is and has been my main system for around 10 years, I experiment with other Linux distros on external drive but am currently using 18:04LTS - not sure about upgrading to 20:04 or wait untill 22:04 but am wondering about the /home partition option.

    Geoff

  2. #2
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    Re: Sharing Home on separate Partition

    This would not be a problem if it were only for your user data (i.e., your personal files in Documents, Pictures, etc.) However, also configuration data is stored there. 1) That configuration may depend on the particular setup of the system in which it was created 2) The format of that configuration data may have changed between the version that has written it, and the version of another linux distro that accesses it later. So expect problems if you attempt that.

    Instead, have each distro keep its own home directory, and replace the folders to your personal data by symbolic links pointing to the data stored elsewhere. That way, the distro's will not interfere with each others settings, whereas you will be able to transparently access your data from anywhere.

  3. #3
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    Re: Sharing Home on separate Partition

    It would be problematic unless you were experienced at configuring your system. Never done it myself but lots of Linux users do. Depends on your wants and needs. If you want to simply share data between your different system, creating a separate data partition would be the way to go. Having different desktop environments on the various Linux installs would add to the complexity.

  4. #4
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    Re: Sharing Home on separate Partition

    UEFI boot install & repair info - Regularly Updated :
    https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to change to [Solved] when/if answered completely.

  5. #5
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    Re: Sharing Home on separate Partition

    I suggest a small partition for /home (say 20Gb) then a large Ext4 partition where all casual data is stored. This can be accessed by many distributions on the same system and reduce issues. It also makes backups easier

  6. #6
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    Re: Sharing Home on separate Partition

    In the days when I had a triple booting system I kept one separate partition for data only and left the home (folder, not partition) for each distro in the root partition as is default for Ubuntu.

    I then simply created symbolic links (soft links) to all the data folders in the data partition in the home folder of the root partition of each distro.
    In this way all the data, although it appears to be in each distro, is not duplicated at all and sits in that one place; it just appears in each distro's home as if it was sitting there.

    Doing it this way is almost 100% failsafe, though very occasionally, (and I can't even remember what the data was or the application, as it was well over a decade ago,) I have had data files updated by a new version of an application and those updated files will not open in an earlier version of that application.
    Last edited by ajgreeny; July 22nd, 2021 at 04:57 PM.

  7. #7
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    Re: Sharing Home on separate Partition

    In the 1990s, it was common for a single HOME to be mounted across multiple systems, concurrently, over NFS. Businesses still do this along with having LDAP maintained users and groups. This is important to ensure the uid/gid numbers all match across systems, especially for human users. The numbers are used on Unix file system to determine access and permissions, not the names.

    This applies to dual-quad-and more booting with a shared HOME.

    If different DEs are used, or even different DE versions, then incompatibilities are likely. Historically, the way that was handled was by setting environment variables to point to different configs and programs based on the hostname of the system. I have no idea how to do that with Gnome. There are all the XDG* environment variables. The default location appears to be hard-coded based on $HOME which gets set by the login program and is inherited by all sub-shells. https://wiki.gnome.org/Initiatives/G...GConfigFolders has more about this. Look through the list of problem applications.

    User data should go into $XDG_DATA_HOME (which default to .local/share), user preferences should go into $XDG_CONFIG_HOME (which default to .config) and cached data should go to $XDG_CACHE_HOME (which default to .cache).
    So, just control those 3 variables based on the hostname? That should mostly work, right?
    I'd use ~/.config-${hostname}/ so the configs would be stored in separate top-level directories, for example.

    Be certain that all the Linux systems booted have different hostnames.
    Last edited by TheFu; July 22nd, 2021 at 04:59 PM.

  8. #8
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    Re: Sharing Home on separate Partition

    Quote Originally Posted by vanadium View Post
    This would not be a problem if it were only for your user data (i.e., your personal files in Documents, Pictures, etc.) However, also configuration data is stored there. 1) That configuration may depend on the particular setup of the system in which it was created 2) The format of that configuration data may have changed between the version that has written it, and the version of another linux distro that accesses it later. So expect problems if you attempt that.

    Instead, have each distro keep its own home directory, and replace the folders to your personal data by symbolic links pointing to the data stored elsewhere. That way, the distro's will not interfere with each others settings, whereas you will be able to transparently access your data from anywhere.
    Ah, that is an interesting option, thanks for suggestion.

    Geoff

  9. #9
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    Re: Sharing Home on separate Partition

    Quote Originally Posted by ajgreeny View Post
    In the days when I had a triple booting system I kept one separate partition for data only and left the home (folder, not partition) for each distro in the root partition as is default for Ubuntu.

    I then simply created symbolic links (soft links) to all the data folders in the data partition in the home folder of the root partition of each distro.
    In this way all the data, although it appears to be in each distro, is not duplicated at all and sits in that one place; it just appears in each distro's home as if it was sitting there.

    Doing it this way is almost 100% failsafe, though very occasionally, (and I can't even remember what the data was or the application, as it was well over a decade ago,) I have had data files updated by a new version of an application and those updated files will not open in an earlier version of that application.
    That is an interesting way to do it.

    Geoff

  10. #10
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    Re: Sharing Home on separate Partition

    Quote Originally Posted by vanadium View Post

    Instead, have each distro keep its own home directory, and replace the folders to your personal data by symbolic links pointing to the data stored elsewhere. That way, the distro's will not interfere with each others settings, whereas you will be able to transparently access your data from anywhere.
    That is seeming like a good suggestion.

    Thanks,

    Geoff

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