Harmonizing/unifying two Home directories

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James Gribble
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Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2020 5:12 am

Harmonizing/unifying two Home directories

Post by James Gribble »

I have both LMDE 2 (Betsy) and LMDE 4 (Tricia) on my computer, the latter a new installation. They reside on different partitions. When I boot up with LMDE 2 a single Home icon appears on the desktop, but with LMDE 4 there are two different Home icons. But they are not talking to each other.
My question is this: is there a way to copy/transfer my files in LMDE 2's Home to Home in LMDE 4? Alternatively, is there a way to get to ONE common working Home directory reachable from either distribution?
My intention ultimately is to have Home in a separate partition (unallocated space is available on the hard drive), then to delete the partition housing Betsy,
and in this way to obviate the current problem should I decide to replace Tricia with a later distribution at some future date.
Is there a tutorial outlining such a procedure? Please advise me which route is best to follow and what steps (commands) to use along the way.
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Re: Harmonizing/unifying two Home directories

Post by Lanser »

Hello James. The short answer is, yes it is possible. But you first need to be aware of the contents of your home directory.

Keeping simple, your home directory contains three types of files.

1. The visible data directories eg Docs, Music, Video etc.... These folders can be safely moved to another partition in a folder called eg "home-data" and replaced with links. You just need to mount the partition at boot by adding the mount in your fstab, And set the permissions of the partition so that you have access from other OS's. Note some applications (like thunderbird) also store their data files in hidden directories in you home folder. These are also "movable" if the paths are updated in the configuration files. All of these data files can be "shared" between two OS's as long as the permissions are set to correctly.

2. The hidden configuration files for your apps. Although it is possible to also relocate them, they are unique to the specific instance and I would suggest not moving them unless you are confident that you know what you are doing. There are many differences between lmde2 and lmde4.

3. The hidden application cache files. As per 2. These are also specific to the apps and the instance and should not be moved unless you know what you are doing.

Also be aware that sharing data between two OS's runs the risk of file corruption unless the app versions are the same (or similar). Some apps have version specific data files and opening with a newer version of the app may make them inaccessible from the older version of the app. eg thunderbird mail files. Other common data files like flacs, docs etc should not be a problem.

What ever you do, make sure you have at least 2 back ups of all your data first. Also worth using time shift to make backups including your home dir. Also worth making copies of your home dir using the mint backup tool. Make changes one step at a time, so you can reverse anything that you break.

hope this helps

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