Recently I installed Ubuntu 12.10 x64 Server Edition on my PC. Unfortunately, I attempted to install a lightweight desktop but due to the fact that I have an old graphics card, the PC does not perform so well. I am thinking of re-installing an Ubuntu version but I do not want to lose the contents in my home folder. Is there any way to do that with a Live CD?

  • Do you have an extra partition for /home ? You should make a backup bevor you reinstall, this is the best way to save your data. – prophecy201 Mar 19 '13 at 10:50

Ever since Hardy (Ubuntu 8.04) you can reinstall Ubuntu without losing data in /home even without a separate /home partition.




Preserving home when reinstalling Ubuntu

Since Hardy, Ubuntu can be reinstalled while preserving home even without separate /home: see UbuntuReinstallation.

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

Of course, you should always have a backup of your data.

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    why is it that in the 8 (yes 8) times I have reinstalled in the last two years it has never preserved the existing home content even when I specifically want to keep it and I've had to restore from another backup and deal with all the trouble with the permissions and stuff – sbergeron Jul 29 '14 at 21:53
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    When you install, do not format / – Panther Jul 29 '14 at 22:01
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    I haven't, but every single time it has erased my home folder. Is there a way I can rename it beforehand, install, then delete then new one and replace it with the old one I renamed? – sbergeron Jul 29 '14 at 23:51
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    The title of the article says "UbuntuReinstallation", but the screenshot shows a major version Upgrade. Reduces my faith in whomever wrote the article and makes me wonder if reinstalling the same version from the CD works without screwing up your /home – bobcat Jan 7 '17 at 17:00
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    I didn't find the page mentioned above very clear, but I found the key to success was: In the installation menu, select Something else. On the next screen double-click on the partition where Ubuntu and data is installed and choose use as "ext4 journaling file system" (if that is the format type you are using) and mount point "/". Make sure format box is unticked. Continue installation. When being asked for your name and such, enter the same username you had before. Tested with 16.04 LTS. – holmis83 Jan 22 '17 at 20:04

If you have a dedicated partition for /home:

  • launch the installer
  • when it comes to the choice of disk and partitions, choose "other" and then, manually select the partition for / and /home; check that the installer will format only the / partition, and not the /home

If you have only one partition:

  • launch the live cd, select "try Ubuntu"; if you have an old pc, you may try xubuntu instead of ubuntu
  • once on the desktop, use the file manager to browse your home directory, display hidden files, select all and copy all on a usb key
  • when the installation is finished, you can copy again the files in your /home before restarting
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    I had separate home partition. I chosen reinstall keep data if possible, and all data on home were deleted. Writing just to tell other people to payattention. – umpirsky Jun 22 '13 at 12:15
  • Before upgrading, one must always back up the /home content. – ttoine Jul 11 '13 at 16:04

Why reinstall? Just install the (meta)-package that installs the graphical Desk Top Environment (DTE) of your choosing. If you want to reinstall, at least create a separate /home partition. If you really want flexibility use Logic Volume Manager (LVM) so you can easily add, remove and resize partitions (aka "logical volumes" in LVM language). You can also add or remove disks to your logical disk (volume group) without reboot the machine.

But please consider to just install the right DTE first, as you really don't need to reinstall your machine to get a graphical environment. Or even uninstall the DTE you installed, if your don't want it in your machine.

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    What is that DTE that you speak of? – Jose Gómez Jul 16 '16 at 19:57
  • It is a Desk Top Environment, which could be Gnome, KDE, or any other you chooses to use. And yes, that is a proper term. – Anders Jan 26 '18 at 5:04
  • And no thanks to those who voted this down, instead of asking. – Anders Jan 26 '18 at 5:11
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    Thanks. I've typically seen Desktop Environment abbreviated as DE. – Jose Gómez Jan 27 '18 at 18:57

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