Home partition and Debian

In playing around with different Linux distros, many forums recommended keeping the /home folder in its own partition, so that, as one installed different distros or OS’s, the /home folder, with all of its data would remain intact.

So I tried that. And, of course, there was learning involved.

I had set up a 32GB /home partition, leaving 8GB for / (root) and swap areas. Then I installed Debian, which worked just fine. The only hiccup was that it required a specific, non-FOSS, driver for my wireless card. But when installed, it had crammed itself into the 8GB, leaving the 32GB unmounted, and unavailable.

A helpful tech on ##Linux IRC channel gave me these commands to run, which made the /home partition available:

mount -t ext3 /dev/hda3 /mnt (This mounts the /home folder to /mnt.)

umount /mnt (Releases the filesystem.)

/dev/hda3 /home ext3 defaults 0 2 (This is the proper entry for the /etc/fstab file. Edit and add this line to the file.)

shutdown -rF (Performs an important check on reboot.)

But not all was well.

While Linux/Debian still worked, the Gnome desktop was totally blank. Apparently, when I installed Debian, it had its own ‘new’ /home folder (somewhere in the 8GB). While I had not saved any user documents or files to it, it apparently did contain some settings, preferences, set ups, etc.

It was fairly easy, and interesting, as a learning exercise to rebuild the Gnome desktop, which, since I had to add everything myself, was the bare minimum of stuff, and exactly those items I wanted. “GUI without the cute.”

Not necessarily an easy way to go about this, but useful learning.