Linux – How to Switch Distros While Keeping /home


Curious question, is it possible to switch to another distro while keeping your home directory if you have the partitions on separate disks? Currently I am running fedora and want to change to Manjaro or Arch. I have my / swap bios boot on a SSD while my home is on a separate hard drive. Is it simple as just installing the new distro on the SSD while leaving the hard drive alone since it is just a home partition?

Best Answer

Yes. Separate disks or a partition on the same disk, if your /home data is stored on some form of other partition from / then it is mostly a matter of replacing the OS and mounting the /home partition.

There are some minor qualifiers. If program versions are significantly different, then you might want to remove that program's configuration directory (saving a copy for reference, maybe) and starting the program configuration-less since the config version differences may be incompatible.

The only other potential pitfall is filesystem support. Most kernels are likely to have support for mounting most Linux-native filesystems, but the filesystem tools may not be installed by default during the initial install phase. So, you may have to install them after the first boot into the new distro. That first boot after install may appear to hang, trying to do an fsck of the partition, and you may have to choose to skip the filesystem check, then install the filesystem's tools to gain fsck for that filesystem type. This is typically an easy fix if it is a problem initially.

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