I have a number of client machines, all running Ubuntu, and recently upgraded to 13.04. I also have a Slackware-based server which includes an nfs service.

What I am aiming to do is to have access to all my documents from any client. I have copied my entire $HOME directory to the fileserver. I have used usermod -d to set my home directory to the appropriate area on the server. I use autofs to mount remote directories, so the full path is /net/tower/mnt/user/UserHome/peter.

If I log in via a text console, all is fine - my files are accessible and writable. However, if I log in via desktop, I get an error:

Could not update ICEauthority file with the full path/filename for the .ICEauthority file.

I have ensured that ownership and priveledges/permissions on the file are correct. I have tried deleting the file, I have tried creating an empty file from a text console - I still get the error.

Either I have to find a way of getting past this error, or find a way to change my $HOME after login (from my .profile?).

Can anyone help me?

  • You do realize that if the NFS is not reachable your system will -not- boot? I would never consider your method and would advice to store the directory ~/Documents on that server and not /home itself. That way your system will always boot and the files (like .ICEauthority) will remain as they should be.
    – Rinzwind
    May 8, 2013 at 10:17
  • I don't understand why the system should not boot. Surely the $HOME directory structure is different for each user, and only comes into play when the user logs in? Each machine would retain at least one administrator account with its $HOME directory on the boot disk. Are you saying that it's not viable to keep a centralised home directory for an individual user, which will be accessed whichever client computer is used to login?
    – Peter Bell
    May 8, 2013 at 14:11
  • 1
    Nope. If /home does not get mounted from /etc/fstab it will halt. "Are you saying that it's not viable to keep a centralised home directory for an individual user, which will be accessed whichever client computer is used to login?" No, I am saying that mounting a /home from another server is not good practice. I would advice to mount ~/Documents if all you care for is a central Document folder or mount a shared directory (the latter is the normal method).
    – Rinzwind
    May 8, 2013 at 14:36
  • I'm sorry to be so stupid, but I really do not understand " If /home does not get mounted from /etc/fstab it will halt." I have no problem with /home being mounted at boot time, and that would contain, at least, the $HOME directory structure for the system administrator. However,what I was hoping to achieve was for the home directory structure of other users to be located elsewhere. This can, after all, be achieved by 'usermod -d'. If this 'elsewhere' happens to be on an nfs server, should the system care?
    – Peter Bell
    May 9, 2013 at 0:29
  • What I am trying to do certainly works for a text console login, but fails for a gnome login. You have given me an idea, though - perhaps I need to add the remote home directory device to the fstab .. at the moment it is only being mounted by autofs.
    – Peter Bell
    May 9, 2013 at 0:30

1 Answer 1


My advice won't solve all your problems, but you may find it enough. You could have only a bunch of directories in the NFS server. i.e., the Documents directory. To do so, mount your nfs server home somewhere like /media/nfs_server/home. Then change the contents of the file ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs

There you can change the Documents default dir and set it to your NFS server home:

You should have something like:


Change it to:


Replace it to where you really mount your NFS server and your real login. You could even try something like: /media/nfs_server/$HOME/Documents, but it depends of your server directories.

Hope this helps.

  • This method will work and does not touch the files directly residing in /home/$USER (ie. the hidden files). Though I myself would use a shared directory (ie. a mountpoint /share for instance).
    – Rinzwind
    May 8, 2013 at 14:40

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