I've been using Ubuntu for several years but would definitely qualify as a 'casual' user. Fairly comfortable with the command line but I generally have Google open on another screen if I'm doing anything complex. ;-)

I'm currently running 16.04 which I upgraded in place from 14.04. I have 4 partitions on the primary drive: sda1 = root; sda2 = linux-swap; sda3 = /home; sda4 = data.

I plan to do a clean install of 18.04 on a new SSD that I will add to my system. Once 18.04 is installed I plan to mount the existing /home partition as /home and dual boot until I finish configuring 18.04 so I'm not under any pressure to get everything running on 18.04 in one day.

The Ubuntu Community Help Wiki (https://help.ubuntu.com/community/HomeFolder) says "If you wish to share a separate /home between several Linux distributions, do not forget to use different usernames."

Does that mean I need to use a different username for my 18.04 installation if I want to share /home?

I'm not going to continue using 16.04 once I have 18.04 configured. Would I be better off to simply copy my data from /home on 16.04 to /home on 18.04 as I move over?

Are there any other recommendations, suggestions, or landmines that you would point out?

Thanks for your help!

  • I think the potential problem with alternate distributions is that your user id (UID, check it with id) may be different in the other linux. This would lead to ownership problems, especially with system related files such as .Xauthority. My process is to mount a VM and install the new distro on that, testing programs to ensure that what I want works, and I generate a large script that does almost all of the installation and configuration that I want. – Charles Green Apr 11 at 19:41
  • Thanks for clarifying that! – UberNoob Apr 11 at 22:44

Seems like a reasonable plan. The warning in the wiki is mostly about different distros that will make different assumptions about what is stored in your home folder, and are pretty likely to stomp on one another. Since you're doing Ubuntu for both, it's less likely to be an issue, but could still happen since the versions of major components will be pretty significantly different. I wouldn't be too concerned about that though. There's also encryption to think about, which I would be concerned about.

If your current home directory is encrypted, make sure you take steps to account for that. At the very least make a good backup of your home directory if you don't have one already on an external drive so there's zero chance of it getting nuked while you're messing about. The only thing worse than losing data outright, is losing data because it's encrypted and you can't get it to decrypt for some reason. I'm not finding any good, current, all-in-one guides for that, but there's a lot of general info related to ecryptfs that should get you going. This guide is for encrypting the home directory of a user that isn't already encrypted, but it references the tools you'll need to use: https://www.howtogeek.com/116032/how-to-encrypt-your-home-folder-after-installing-ubuntu/

You can make getting the stuff you have setup currently in the new install easier by leveraging some not well-known apt features as discussed here: Restoring all data and dependencies from dpkg --set-selections '*'

Personally, I would actually upgrade in-place, and then just copy the root partition over to the new SSD using dd once you've got everything working. I've had very few problems with Ubuntu upgrades over the years I've been using it, so that strikes me as being less work.

  • Thanks! I will admit that my 'fresh install' mindset is probably a holdover from WIN days. And that I have a tendency to overthink things! ;-) I'll check out the links and give some thought to just upgrading first. I could just image the drive first as a backup then I could always revert if I don't like the results. – UberNoob Apr 11 at 22:48

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