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I have read that the / and /home folders can be separated to their own partitions on a physical drive to be able to re-install the system while keeping the users in the home-partition intact.

However, how viable is this approach exactly in Ubuntu 18.04, especially regarding installed programs?

Let's assume that: I have a regular user-folder on a separate home-partition, containing an ecryptfs Private-folder that I use to store some extremely sensitive documents and a .wine-directory with some Windows-software installed and configured. Also, I have a password set with live-updates activated on my user account with the Ubuntu welcome-screen.

If I now format just the separate root-partition for any reason while keeping the home-partition intact, will I be able to re-install Ubuntu and continue using my old user account with live updates and my old passwords as soon as I also install ecryptfs and Wine on the new system? Will everything work the same as it did on the old installation or are conflicts of some sort definitely to be expected?

(I am aware that some software may always cause issues in such a situation, but I'm asking this in a general sense, knowing that there is no certainty that every single program will function after a re-installation or an upgrade, for that matter.)

  • Software installs (by default tools, dpkg/apt/..) to /bin/, /usr/ directories and not your home directory. The 'live-updates' I picture you talking about are system updates, so do not effect anything in /home so will have no impact. If you re-install (leaving /home partition untouched), software will only work once you have re-installed said software, and the versions software installed are compatible with the config files found in your $HOME (this is an issue only on huge software ver. jumps). Yes you can re-use your home partition; I've done it many times (inc. with encrypted-home) – guiverc Sep 29 '18 at 22:47
  • I do this since 14.04 on many different pc's. 14.04 -> 16.04 -> 18.04, all flawless. This is my SOP. On a side note though, 18.04 does not support encrypted home by default so prepare for that. – Organic Marble Sep 30 '18 at 3:47

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