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I am using Kubuntu now, and hava partition as /home seperate from /. I want to install xubuntu instead of kubuntu. Can I do that without affecting my files at /home and is there any disadvanteges of doing so?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I disagree, you should be able to install xubuntu without formatting the /home partition. Very few, if any .files will conflict between kde and xfce.

It has been the default behavior of the Ubuntu installer (ubiquity) to preserve /home, with or without a separate partition, for quite some time, .

Ubuntu now supports installations that preserve the /home directory when it already exists. To do this, manual partitioning must be used, and the partition on which data is to be preserved must not be marked for formatting.

Few people know it, but since Hardy it's possible to reinstall Ubuntu without losing the content of the /home folder (which contains program settings, internet bookmarks, emails... and all the documents, music, videos that you have put in it). Even if /home is not on a separate partition (which is the case by default if you did not manually separate it). Remark: this tutorial can also be used to upgrade Ubuntu (eg 11.04 -> 12.04 from a 12.04 live-CD).

The general concept of backing up your data before you install an OS applies, but, you should have a backup already.

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Oh not saying it -will- cause problems but I would not be surprised if it does. There are so many possible issues -my- 1st idea would be to circumvent them. As always: make a backup and feel free to tinker around. Let's share the rep and see who wins ;-) – Rinzwind Apr 10 '13 at 16:57
No worries, discussion never hurts anyone – bodhi.zazen Apr 10 '13 at 16:59

When switching to another OS you have to take in account that this OS can (will?) have other names for hidden directories or files that store configuration files.

A re-install with formatting /home is the proper method.

Any other method might result in a system that has residual files from the old OS and you could potentially run into trouble when the new OS uses a file name that was kept from the old system. Permissions could prevent the current OS from updating a file.

Possible pre installation options:

  • Create a data partition where you store all your private files and no system files. Mount this data disc when setting up the new system and format all other partitions.
  • Create a new backup, format your system and install the new OS and restore your personal files from a backup.

The text starting with "few people" from bodi's post only should apply to Ubuntu as is says in the text. If you want to switch to another version of Ubuntu it can (not saying it will!) cause problems. Thing is: next person will assume that Mint is Ubuntu and oh is he in for a surprice. A big one.

Another example: let's assume you switch from a GDM/Unity based version to a KDE based version. You probably will end up with lots and lots of files not needed for KDE and owned by another users ID. Assume you create a new user for that new OS and it probably will not go as smooth as you would expect. It is asking for trouble. The -best- practice is a re-install with format.

No, I see lots of possible(!) problems. But ... of course you can always try and do a 2nd install (that way you get to learn more from installing).

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What about running rm -rf /home/.* to delete all configuration files? – Machinarius Apr 10 '13 at 15:42
If, for example, you have your email in KMail at the moment, and you wanted to continue using KMail even in Xubuntu, you would lose all of that as well. – maco Apr 10 '13 at 16:01
maco that's why I said: backup all personal files. @macinarius possible but there is more in there than you might think – Rinzwind Apr 10 '13 at 16:44

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