Recently I've bought a new notebook. I'm going to install ubuntu 12.04 next to win8 with dual boot config. Is it that simple and safe to just copy my home folder from an old desktop with Ubuntu 10.04 to a new 12.04 installed system? Or should I do that other way?

3 Answers 3


Yes, just copy over your home directory. These are the steps I would follow:

  1. Make a proper archive on the old system.

    cd /home
    sudo tar -zcf username-archive.tar.gz username
  2. Make sure that you use the same username on the new system.

  3. Copy over the archive to the new system outside the home directory where we will unpack it to of course.

  4. (Re)boot up the new system, but don't log in yet. This will make sure nothing will be running under your user account, depending on the contents of your homedir.

  5. Press Ctrl+Alt+F1 to go to a virtual terminal.

  6. Log in, then become root fully, e.g.

    sudo su -
  7. Backup the almost empty homedir, e.g.

    mv /home/username /home/username-old
  8. Unpack it, e.g.

    cd /home
    tar -zxf username-archive.tar.gz

No, it is not recommended to copy the home folder since it contains hidden files that have settings for programs that may not merge perfectly with the new installation versions of programs that might operate a bit differently to their older versions.

But you can copy each folder in the home folder (Documents, Downloads, etc.) to the new machine after Ubuntu is installed.

  • Why would this be unsafe? Then all dist-upgrades would be unsafe too... as your full /home is kept then with new versions as well. I think this answer is simply untrue.
    – gertvdijk
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 9:18
  • @gertvdijk, made some improvements. I can remember that I had some problems with compiz and unity (or something related to them) settings merging in the past which might happen here.
    – chesedo
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 9:30

You must copy your Home folder content in a Home Folder in new notebook by open nautilus in terminal :sudo nautilus and Use a removable drive or Connect to Harddisk together.

Then You must change User owner of files to user in your new notebook by:

cd ~
sudo chown -R YourUsername *

you can copy most application setting that is in your old home folder and they are hide with began their name by '.'.

Don't copy all of hidden folder in home like .config . it may crash your os because their version isn't same. just copy all you need.

  • Why would the system crash because of the older configuration files in the /home dot-directories are still present? That would mean that all Ubuntu upgrades would result in crashes as they upgrade full Ubuntu versions without touching the homedir contents. This answer is simply untrue.
    – gertvdijk
    Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 9:19
  • I have kubuntu 13.10 . when i update to 13.10 by keep home folder my kubunt crashed. And then I had to remove all configuration files in live cd to solve that. Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 9:24

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