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

Liam Proven lproven at
Mon Nov 26 14:51:25 UTC 2012

On 26 November 2012 14:17, Pongo Pan <pongo_pan at> wrote:
> 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

No, I really don't think so.

A great deal easier than keeping track of multiple distros, which is
what we are discussing anyway, and vastly easier than keeping track of
umpteen home filesystems.

> 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.

Is this a requirement? I don't recall it being specified.

Anyway, the answer is, use a separate FS or better still a share on a server.

>> 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!

Not really, no.

>> 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.?

Repetition of the earlier point.

>> 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 do not even understand what this is meant to mean.

>> 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.

Then your book does not contain much in the way of actual problems.
This is a minor cosmetic issue and does not affect actual functioning
of anything at all.

>> 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 do 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
> problem.

I personally take a similar attitude to online pseudonyms that Google+ does.

In a public support forum, if someone asks me for help and will not
even give me their real name, then I personally consider that to be
very rude. That is my personal opinion; you are free to differ, as you
said a moment ago.

Liam Proven • Profile:
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