How best to set up a separate /home partition, and pros/cons

Pongo Pan pongo_pan at
Mon Nov 26 14:17:49 UTC 2012

On Mon, 2012-11-26 at 12:05 +0000, Liam Proven wrote:

[ Vast snippage ]

> Now, note well: inside /home there will be different home directories:
> /home/alice
> /home/bob
> /home/charlie

Now you have to keep track of multiple UIDs and can't easily share
things between them unless you make them all members of users and make
the primary group for all of them users, which is insecure.

> If you have, say, 12.04 and 12.10 installed - as I do right now - and
> you share the same HOME DIRECTORY between them (e.g. /home/alice) -
> then when you go back to the older distro some apps might complain
> about config files. But it works and you can do this just fine. I am
> doing it right now. I am in 12.10 as I type but I also have and use
> 12.04 and both have a home of /home/lproven. It works fine. Ignore the
> over-cautious who say it won't. It's perfectly OK, but occasionally,
> you will find settings propagate back.
And it makes a right mess!  

> The way to avoid this is to use a different use account: the settings
> in /home/bob will be completely ignored while you're logged in as
> /home/charlie and vice versa.

Now you have multiple UIDs. Who owns common data?  Or do you just
duplicate everything in Music, etc.?

> So if you are paranoid you can have Ubuntu using /home/johnh1 and
> Kubuntu using /home/johnh1 and Fedora using /home/johnh3 and any other
> combinations you want. All are in the same /home *partition* but the
> user account names are different so the home *directories* are
> separate.
> But yes, you can share a single one between versions safely - even
> between distros *if and only if* they use different desktops, e.g.
> Unity and KDE.

Can't compare different distros or versions honestly since you're using
different desktops in each.

> I have shared a home directory between Ubuntu 10.04 and Mint 9 - both
> the same version of GNOME 2, but with different themes - and it looks
> as ugly as hell when you go from one to the other, because Mint is set
> to a theme called "mint" or something and Ubuntu is set to "ambiance".
> Mint doesn't have a theme called "ambiance" and Ubuntu doesn't have
> one called "mint", so there are some errors and GNOME looks like a
> mess until you pick a theme that actually exists, log out and log back
> in again.
> But this is the worst that happened.

That's pretty bad in my book.
> Do it. It is not a problem, and "Pongo" is being overly cautious.
We've been around this block before.  I think my method (while harder to
set up and perhaps a little daunting for someone who hasn't tried it
before) is causes less confusion, is *much* easier to maintain, and
enables data (where ever it is) to be owned by the same UID.  You are
free to differ.

I somewhat resent your use of scare quotes around my name (which I've
had since I was 6 or so, back in the first half of the previous century)
and the term FUD.  It's not FUD; it is a different approach to a

pongo pan
Mon, 26 Nov 2012 06:15:09 -0800
Epicurus up 2 days, 18:09, 2 users, load average: 0.25, 0.26, 0.24
Linux 3.2.0-33-generic
Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS, gnome-session 3.2.1, unity 5.16.0

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