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Old 02-17-2015, 08:56 PM   #1
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What does the new distro wipe?

If I install a mother distro... In this case Ubuntu studio. Does it wipe all my files that I already have on my previous versio of Ubuntu or is a distro change like. A system upgrade that leaves all your documents in tact?
Old 02-17-2015, 09:29 PM   #2
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It is best to have user files (usually in /home) on a separate partition.

The problem is that sometimes (specially when changing distributions) that the needs/uses of the distribution are sufficiently different from the previous that user files CAN be wiped out.

Having them on a separate partition allows better isolation. It isn't perfect as there may be insufficient disk space in a given partition for the new distribution. I like having user files on a different disk - that way I can remove the disk which ensures the install won't accidentally wipe out the files.

Even then, some things (like cron jobs, mail...) will get wiped out anyway. for that reason, I like having two root filesystems - either one could be a completely different distribution, but after install I can mount the alternate/old root and copy what I want. This usually happens to be things like cron jobs, backup scripts, fstab entries, the /etc/hosts file, network configurations (or at least be able to refer to them).
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Old 02-17-2015, 09:35 PM   #3
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It will wipe everything - however all your files will be in /home. Unless you put them somewhere else.
That home directory can be a separate partition - in which case they can be made safe during the Studio install. Ubuntu is pretty good at incorporating previous user data into upgrades. Takes some care but can be done. Some software may need re-installing, but will generally recognise your files.
Of course, backing up (which should be done as a matter of course) and restoring is another option. From a terminal run this and post the output, so we can see if you already have a separate /home partition.
df -hT
Have a read of this for some background on what may be required if you need/want to move /home to a separate partition.

Last edited by syg00; 02-17-2015 at 09:36 PM. Reason: typo - seems I'm to slow as well ...
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Old 02-17-2015, 10:59 PM   #4
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To answer your question from a slightly different perspective, a new distro will wipe everything on the partition(s) to which it is installed.

If you place /home on a separate partition, you can install new to the root partition without touching your /home partition.

If you don't have a separate /home, you can back up your home directory to external media (ideally a network share on another machine or an external HDD, as they are likely far too big to fit on optical media, though they might fit on some of the new very large USB thumb drives), then copy the files back into place after your new install. This will restore all your files and, if you copied the hidden configuration files, the settings.

Note the settings will only be relevant to the applications that exist on your new install. For example, if you have settings for the Enlightenment desktop, those settings will not be relevant unless and until you install Enlightenment in your new system. If you do install Enlightenment, the old settings will still be there and will take effect.

When you do the new install, you can take that as an opportunity to create a separate partition for /home. Even if you have a separate partition for /home, it's wise to back up /home to external media from time to time, as hard drives do fail.

I have taken to the practice of routinely creating a separate partition for /home, because it makes life a lot more easier (I had used Linux for years before I adopted this practice). Here's what it looks like in /etc/fstab:

/dev/sda5        swap             swap        defaults         0   0
/dev/sda1        /                ext4        defaults         1   1
/dev/sda3        /home            ext4        defaults         1   2
Good luck.

(I have omitted other sections of fstab that were not relevant to this post.)

Last edited by frankbell; 02-17-2015 at 11:00 PM.
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