Having put /home on a separate partition when installing and then added another version of Ubuntu to a third partition and used the /home in common, I see the error of my ways. I want to put both /homes back in their OS trees and repurpose the old common 'home' partition.

I am trying to follow https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Partitioning/Home/Moving and How to undo move /home into /old_home?

I know the UUIDs of all partitions and can edit the fstab and #-ed the /home partition. Can't log into the normal GUI as 'cannot update ICEauthority file'. After restarting in recovery mode I see /home has no link to the far home folder. I can't make a new dir (RO file system) and can't useradd any username ('cannot lock /etc/passwd').

My problem is that my only user's home directory is a subdirectory of /home - where I want to move it to, and a link is already in operation with that username!

How do I clean this mess up without yet another reinstall, please?

  • It sounds like you know what to do in recovery mode. It's just that you have a RO file system at that point. So first, call mount -o remount,rw / in your recovery shell. Then, proceed as you already tried.
    – Timo Kluck
    Mar 9, 2013 at 1:23

1 Answer 1


I suppose, you can solve issue with booting to single mode.

This way you will get full root privileges and won't get problems with RO file system like in recovery mode. (Another way - boot to recovery and remount partitions with write permissions)

After booting to single mode check files /etc/passwd.lock /etc/gshadow.lock, /etc/shadow.lock. Delete them if exists and try to follow "Home/Moving" manual.

  • @timo and apmouse: thank you both for your valuable input - it gave me a few hours of 'learning experience' (I'm a bit slow!) and then I had to accept my limitations and just backed up some files and reinstalled the whole bang-shoot. Should have just done so in the first place.
    – user138779
    Mar 10, 2013 at 15:02

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