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I have a question that I do not know exactly how to address, so I'm deeply sorry if this one has already been posted by other users.

I'm an extremely newbie with Linux, but very eager to learn.

Yesterday I installed Ubuntu 11.10 on my notebook (it works like a charm), however, I'm not so sure about the way I configured my Hard Disk Partitions. The way I used to do with Windows was to have the OS installed at c:\ partition, and then leave a d:\ partition so I could keep all my documents, media and so on things.

Well, I tried to do the same with Ubuntu. I created a partition where I attributed as my / and another one ext4 and just let it be. But, as soon as I hit 'next' on the install wizard it said something about not attributing that second partition as anything.

So, I thought I wouldn't be able to use it if I didn't attribute it to something. Then I decided that setting it as /home would be a good choice, since all my personal things and downloaded stuffs go to there.

But right now I'm wondering if I did the right thing. I mean, if I need to format my computer in the future, will I loose all my things at /home?

If yes, how can I fix that problem without having to reinstall ubuntu again?

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For your reference, path trailing slashes are forward (/)in UNIX like operating systems, unlike Windows, which uses backslashes \ – Thomas Boxley Jan 3 '12 at 23:21
Can you run fdisk -l and add the output to your question? It sounds like you're on the right track, but fdisk will tell us what actual partitions you've got in place. – Amanda Jan 3 '12 at 23:21

If you use a partition to install the OS files , nother one to store your personal files and a final one to be used as swap you're fine and if you format the OS partition in the future you'll still keep your files in the other partition (which should be accessible from other OSes as well).

If you want to have additional security, you may have one more partition to install new distributions if you're afraid that some problem might happen. With this partition configuration, you can install the newest distro together with an old one and use the same partition for your personal files. This way, if something doesn't work as you expect, you can always go back to the old and stable distribution for a while until the problem in the new one is fixed.

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+1 and Ubuntu probably created the swap partition alone while installing – laurent Jan 3 '12 at 23:29

Note that you can reinstall the OS without reformatting the whole / partition, so there is really no advantage to having a separate /home partition, but if that is what you prefer, you did it right. The down side of course, is that one can fill up while you still have plenty of free space on the other.

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You should be able to reformat your root partition (/) without touching your /home/ partition, but if you want to make sure you've done things right, see my comment about fdisk -l

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I think you did the right thing. This way you can reformat your / partition and install another OS (or the same back) without affecting your personnal files. Anyways, you can use gparted (install from the sofware center) later if you want to change partitions (split, resize or delete) and you can change the way and place they are mounted with mount or altering /etc/fstable. Partition in Linux are easier to reconfigure and manage than in windows.

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Thank you all for the replies! They were all very useful! I'm very excited with ubuntu! – Claudio Fernando Maciel Jan 3 '12 at 23:52

Having your /home in a different partition basically means you have a partition that is meant for your OS and installed applications. And have another partition for your C:\Users equivalent in Linux. The /home folder holds user specific settings as well as your documents, downloads, music, etc.

If you would need to format this partition then yes you would lose the contents of that partition. But if for instance you would need to format the partition with your OS because of serious issues and you don't format your /home partition, you can still view it's contents. Keep in mind however that Ubuntu offers /home contents encryption. If you used this option you would need to save the manual recovery key that was given to you during setup.

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Kudos for mentioning the encryption & Manual recovery key! – Argusvision Oct 26 '12 at 15:41

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