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Right now I have Ubuntu 9.04 running on my laptop. The hard drive is partitioned as follows:
/boot - 100 megs
swap - 4gigs
/ - 15 gigs
/home - rest of the disc
My question is if I wanted to install a second distro and I have both of them use the same /home partition? If so do I just create a new / partition for the second distro? Also will this cause issues for application I have installed between the two distros? I want to give OpenSUSE a try but I also don't want to break my Ubuntu in the process.
I would personally advise you to resize your existing /home , and create a separate /home for your OpenSuSE setup. If you wanted both distros to share the same /home, then the user id would have to be set the same so both distros can access it.
During the OpenSuSE setup, I would advise not to create/select your /home - do it after OpenSuSE is set up. There is a better chance of your data not being overwritten - you have more control over the distro once setup has completed.
Also - backup /home using cp -a before making any changes.
Easy enough to do this in YaST, User and Group Administration.
Once OpenSuSE is set up - create a new user in YaST, and on the Details tab, set the User ID. Otherwise - use usermod -u UID username from a terminal window, such as Konsole.
You should be able to use id -u to see your current user id in your current distro.
Just for the record, you shouldn't have a problem sharing the home directory between many distros, as long as you use a different user directory on each one. If you don't, then expect issues, unless the versions of every single program is exactly the same on both of them (luck tracking updates to make them match). And even then, there's no guarantee that there won't be issues, because different distros might add different patches every now and then.
Alrighty that makes sense, a few people over on the OpenSUSE forums had said the same - but I should be safe using the same home folder just with different users though right?
Yes. You really should unless your distro is buggy in some regard. I remember a very odd situation where Sabayon had problems sharing the same home partition for users on different distros. I don't even remember the severity of the problem or the concrete details, but Sabayon assumed that it had the right to take complete control over whatever was inside /home/, which is a nonsense for all purposes (the distro and the package manager shouldn't ever touch anything in your home folder).
I am not a suse user, but it would really surprise me if suse does such a thing. No distro that I know of would do such thing. So, as long as the users live in separate folders, you should be perfectly fine.
There will be some errors. I recommand to make a separates partiotions and for /home too.
For /home is all we are talking. There will not be any other shared partition as far as I can understand from the conversation.
And for /home, I respectfully disagree that there will be problems. Care to explain the details behind your asseveration? As long as there aren't shared directories there shouldn't be a problem at all. Even if the UID is the same there will not be a problem, because each user has his/her home directory, and the rest of directories under /home are out of the question. Only the directory indicated in /etc/passwd for that user will be his/her home, with the advantage that if the UID is the same, you will be able to save files to either home, convenient when both users are the same. Programs will write files to the correct place, and there shouldn't be any issues.