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I'm currently running 12.04, my 160GB hard disk is messed up, I'm going to completely format it. Here is what I want to do:

  • Keep 10 GB for 10.04 /
  • Keep 10 GB for 12.04 /
  • Keep 4 GB for /swap
  • rest for /home.

How should I start, install 10.04 first then 12.04?, Am I missing anything? Also I read I can share my home folder between the two OS when its on another partition, will it be done by default or do I need to take some steps to do this?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

First thing is to make sure that you have both installation medias, and that your system is set to boot from CD. If you don't download 12.04LTS and 10.04

As far as installation goes, I would recommend that you install 10.04 first, just so 10.04's older grub version won't replace 12.04's newer version.

As far as sharing goes, read below:

The only two partitions that it is really safe to share are /home and swap. Swap data is temporary anyway and not expected to survive between reboots, so a common swap partition makes a lot of sense. Running a separate home partition is a good idea, because your data survives reinstallation, but it can be a little tricky to share /home between two distros. Because of differences in program versions, and possible conflicts of user IDs, it's not a good idea to share a home directory between two distros, so you're better off using one home partition but a different home directory on that partition for each distro.

You can either use a different username with each distro, or use the same name but a different directory. The convention of using /home/username as the home directory is just that, and is only a default setting, not a requirement. If your username is bryan, you could have home directories of /home/bryan-ubuntu, /home/bryan-studio and so on. Each distro installation is a separate entity: you cannot share installed program and library files between two. Some distros modify programs to suit their own needs, and it is very rare for them to update versions at exactly the same time.

You could share /boot in theory, but it can be a lot of work to set up and maintain, and a separate /boot partition is not really necessary with modern hardware. Using the number of partitions per distro that you are using is sure to exceed the partition limits of the system before long. You have a couple of options here. The simplest is to have a single root partition for each distro, plus common swap and home partitions. Each distro is then a self-contained entity within its own partition. A more flexible option, especially if you want to run multiple distros, is to use the Logical Volume Manager (LVM). This would entail having a small /boot partition for each distro plus a large partition given over to LVM. This would then contain logical 'partitions' for the various distros, as well as /home and swap.

The advantage of this approach is flexibility, volumes can be created, resized and removed on the fly, which is useful when experimenting. Many distros have an option to use LVM during installation. There is another option when experimenting with different distros: virtualisation. You can install VirtualBox on Ubuntu and create virtual machines within that for any distros you would like to experiment with. Only when one convinces you that you want to use it long term do you need to worry about partitioning the disk to install it.


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It is a good idea to first install the old version and after the new version of the OS. You can have a common home partition, but as Mitch said, there can be some conflicts due to changes in the OS. Maybe it is better to keep the home folder in the boot partition and make a store partition to keep your common data.

The swap partition is 'cleaned' after each boot/restart

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