Linux Mint – Installing Linux Mint while retaining /home

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In this section, we’ll walk through installing Linux Mint as we did earlier, but this time, we’re going to assume that we want to maintain the home directory partition. This way, you’ll see how the installation procedure differs when you also want to retain your data. To get started, you first boot your computer with the Linux Mint installation DVD or flash drive that you would have created earlier in this tutorial, and start the installer by double-clicking on the Install Linux Mint icon on the desktop.

For the first several screens of the installer, we’ll go through the process the same as we did the first time. On the first Welcome screen, we’ll choose our local language and then click on Next. On the next screen, we’ll click on Preparing to install Linux Mint and click on Next.

The third screen of the installation procedure, Installation type, is where we’ll start diverging from how we installed Mint the first time around. There, we’ll first choose Something else instead of the default option and click on Continue. The following screenshot shows the Installation type screen during the reinstallation process, with the appropriate item chosen:

The next screen (also called Installation type) is where we’ll need to pay very special attention. When you first arrive on this screen, you’ll see your current partitions listed. The following screenshot shows the partitioning screen during the installation, without any changes:

On this screen, we’ll need to edit our partitions in a specific way. First, double-click on the first item that represents your root directory (the label of this partition will read Linux Mint and then your version number). After this, an Edit partition window will appear. Leave the Size option as it is, and set Use as to EXT4 journaling file system. Check the box that reads Format the partition and set the Mount point option to / (a single forward slash). As the / partition contains the distribution itself, we want to format it. Since we want to do a fresh installation, the format option will ensure that we’re wiping out the old installation. When you are satisfied, click on OK. The following screenshot shows how to edit the root partition:

For the swap partition, if you have one, follow the same procedure as you did for the root partition, but change Use as to the swap area.

Next, double-click on the last partition. Leave the Size option as it is, and set Use as to Ext4 journaling file system, just as you did earlier. This time, do not check the box that reads Format the partition, because if you do so, your home partition will be wiped out. Click on OK and you’ll be returned to the partitioning screen. The following screenshot shows the final partition layout; note that the Format checkbox for /home is not checked:

Once you’re satisfied with your selections, click on Install Now. On the next screen, Where are you?, choose your location and then click on Next. Then, choose your keyboard layout on the Keyboard Layout screen. Finally, on the Who are you? screen, fill in your user details, but make sure you create the same username as you did when you installed Mint the first time; otherwise, you’ll have issues with file permissions.

From here, Linux Mint will install and not format your home directory. When you first log in, you should see that your desktop is exactly the way you left it. However, you may have shortcut icons that point to programs that are no longer installed, but we’ll fix this in the next section.

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