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  1. #1

    more than one distro, same /home

    I like to have more than one distro installed on my computer, right now I have two version of ubuntu (precise pangoline and 11.10). All my distro share the same /home (that is on a separate partition) but, of course, I have different accounts to be used on different distro (/home will host an account "xxxx" for use with 11.10 and "yyyy" for use with 12.04).
    I have been trying to share the same data on both distros (same documents, file for password storage, dropbox account etc.) following the suggestion of a magazine I organized links using nautilus (for example the folder "documents" in "xxxx" is linked to a "document" folder in "yyyy" using the possibility in nautilus to obtain a link that you can move between folders. Looks like this kind of link, however, is a symbolic link and I wonder if an hard link wouldn't be more appropriate for this use. As a matter of fact if I delete the original folder (I may want to install a diferent distro tomorrow) I will no longer have access to those file with a symbolic link.
    I understand that hard links point at the same inode and deleting the first link will not affect the ability of the second to show the file or folder. I wonder: If I decide to erase a folder to free space on the system do I need to search for all hard links to get rid of the data?

  2. #2
    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Either at home or at work or down the pub
    The way I deal with sharing documents between different distros is to give each distro a single / directory with the /home on also on it. My data is stored on a separate partition which I mount into a sub folder within /home/username; typically I mount it into Documents. This means I can use the same user name across all distros which personally I find much less confusing. As to hard links, you can't hard link to a directory I'm afraid.
    Last edited by elija; 08-26-2012 at 09:58 AM. Reason: typos and clarity
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  3. #3
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    In my case ...
    I have /home mounted to a separate partition for some but not all distros. For the ones with a shared /home partition I create home folders for user accounts with the distro name e.g. jonathan in gentoo will have /home/gentoo/jonathan as a home folder.
    I create a /home/user-data folder and mount a separate partition containing only user data to it. I create a separate folder for each user plus one for all users to share information.
    I symlink Documents, Downloads etc from the user accounts in each distro to the one I create in the /home/user-data/user_name folder. So for example /home/gentoo/jonathan/Downloads will be a symlink to /home/user-data/jonathan/Downloads.

    I use claws-mail so I do the same with the .claws-mail folder and the mailbox folders. This means each user can access their email from whichever distro they are using.

    In order for this to work the user id must be the same in each distro. The user name could be changed but I keep them consistent across distros otherwise I would soon get confused.

    Symlinks work for me, and in my use case I could not hardlink anyway because they are separate partitions.

    If I were to do a completely fresh install I would keep the separate user-data folder but would not bother with a separate /home partition.

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