Clean install, no upgrade, with separate /Home partition

It’s time to get to it, no more delays. Mint 19.3 is nearing end of support, and it just cannot upgrade. My installation of Mint 19.3 is in two partitions, / and /home. Time for the inevitable, a clean install of Mint 21 over Mint 19 that can make use of that separate /home partition.

Apologies for asking this rather basic question. I am sure this has been described elsewhere and often; I just didn’t find one that deals with installing over an old install with two partitions.

So is there an article that goes through the steps, methodically? Looking esp for how I can find the list of programs that will need re-installing, how to change ownership of older files, refreshing my settings (esp a concern with the podcast client gpodder), and which of these sorts of tasks should be done before installing.


I use OpenSuSE, so I am unfamiliar with Mint. Never installed Mint. But since Mint 19, there have been new and improved things on the scene. The File System BTRFS has new and desirable features. What I did because of BTRFS is put EVERYTHING on one partition and mounted the old HOME partition as /bkup so that I could access it and copy the user data like Documents, Movies, Music, EBooks, Downloads to the new home directory. I put the BTRFS partition on an SSD drive, so now it boots extremely fast because my new HOME directory is on the SSD. I use the old HD as a place to Backup to.

I hope this helps

1 Like

The Installation guide is pretty good.
Mint Install guide
Just remember when your doing the install to hit other on the partitioning page and select both of your partitions (/) and (/home) to install to. You will have to reinstall some of the programs you installed so my advise is to back up off computer any important documents, files, photos etc you want to keep Use cloud storage or usb drive etc to do that.
I would for now stick with Ext4 file system it’s tried and true and work well with mint.
After installing you may want to take a look at these tips.
Easy tips

I also install deb-get if your interested in installing third party programs like Vivaldi, opera Google-chrome or zoom.
Instructions found here.
Other than that it’s pretty straight forward. Good luck and enjoy.
P.S. make sure everything works on your machine in Live boot mode before installing. The Kernel has been upgraded a few times since 19.3 and may cause some hardware issues.



Hi Cliff, :wave:

I´ll have to do the same (fresh-/clean-instally) by next April.

I´m on Lubuntu 20.04 right now but I think this one will work for you as well.

Whenever I do a fresh install, I follow what is described here: How to Replace one Linux Distro With Another in Dual Boot [Guide] .

Well, the article deals with a dual-boot scenario (WIN and LinuxMint, where LinuxMinit should be replaced by elementary OS) but that´s not the important point.
What´s described in the article works perfectly with a single PS, too. :wink:

The questiion is: Do you want to keep your existing home partition as it is? In this case it mustn´t be formatted in the installation process :exclamation:
Otherwise let it be formatted, but then its contents are deleted of course.

I myself prefer a setup of three partitions: root, home and a third (data) partition where all of my personal data (documents etc.) are stored. This one never gets formatted during the installation process and thus remains untouched. :smiley:

A complete backup beforehand is always most advisable, no need to tell you that. :wink:

Many greetings.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

Hi @cliffsloane ,
I am sure you know it, but the first step is always to do a backup
I would do both / and /home, just in case you want to go back
/home is the most important thing to backup… you can always get another OS but your personal stuff is irreplaceable.

Take heed of @Rosika 's warning… you do not want the install process to overwrite the old /home partition…

You seem to be asking too about things to do after the install.
Yes there are extra things. I always do it by hand… trying to
automate things like adding all your packages is asking for trouble in my opinion. Just make a list on paper and do them one at a time.
Other things

  • configure printers
  • make your new mailer see old email files
  • browser settings
  • your primary network should be ok after the install. If you have more than one network, you will have to configure
  • check /etc/fstab. Make sure it mounts the partitions you need

I dont understand your question about file ownership.
If you set up the same users in the new install, they should be able to access old files. If you have trouble, just use the chown and chgrp commands.

It pays to learn to use gparted. Then you can setup your partitions before you do the install, and that makes the install a lot simpler.



Cliff: I just executed the instructions for mintupgrade and after rebooting, find myself operating in a Mint 21 world, with all the files I can think of ready for use. Kinda proud of myself.

The upgrade tool didn’t accept the Canon file–cnrdrvcups-ufr2-uk_5.30-1_amd64.deb–that I needed to install my printer. It perceived it as a foreign file. But it was simple to reinstall.

The upgrade tool preserved my original Mint 20.3 structure perfectly, if that helps you.


Yes, that´s my belief as well.
I always use the same user name for every new install and I´ve never run into any difficulties accessing old files. :blush:

That´s very good advice, Neville. :+1:

Many greetings
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

I would think it goes by the UID and not the username. I have just one user added on Ubuntu and it’s UID 1000. If you have more than one user added and add them in a different order, the ownership would be reversed.

You’re right though, it’s pretty easy to chown and chgrp the files and folders.

1 Like

Actually, the user IDs are the most important distinction, not the human respresantion of it, i.e. the name.

1 Like

You are exactly right.
With only one user he will get away with it, the UID will be 1000 again in the new install.


Aha! That is the point of my questions. If I keep it unformatted, how does the installation process deal with duplicates? It is one thing to have personal stuff (docs, audio, pictures, etc); those can all be copied, put into a /bkup partition, or zipped and stored somewhere. Your suggestion here is exactly what I was thinking, but are there consequences? And, other than having a /Home partition, what are my benefits?

I just started reading everybody’s input, so I have not gotten around to looking at all those guides.

Last year about this time, I tried upgrading from 19.3 to 20.1. It broke the system, probably in python3, and I replicated this disaster three times, each time tweaking what might have been the cause. So I conclude that the leap from 19 to 20 was big enough to make a clean install necessary. I stayed with 19.3 (quite happy) since it was supported to 2023. Which is in a few months.

I’m not sure, if the basics are clear, so I’ll just make it clear for everyone.

To upgrade manually, by re-installing the OS, but keeping the /home partition, all you have to do is do everything as usual, so at the partitioning section you choose “Something else”, make absolutely sure, that the /home partition is neither formatted, nor otherwise modified or created and then you let the installer mount that /home partition in the installation process, instead of creating it from scratch. That’s it.

Needless to say, a backup should be created beforehand, in any scenario.

The annoyance starts, when you need to re-install the software you need.

As can be seen here, it’s usually not easy to manually deduce, which packages were actually manually installed by the human using the Linux operating system.

However, that’s the next step, anyway.

I would suggest starting out installing and mounting /home as explained above and see if it works. If it works, you may continue with further modifications.
The only rule is to always take backups, before doing anythihng. Having too many backups is not a problem. Having a single one missing is a big problem.


Hi Cliif, :wave:

@Akito ´s explanation (post #13) is just great. :+1:

In addition to that I´d suggest creating a third partition for your personal data instead of letting all these crucial data reside in home.
That way a fresh installation would get a lot easier as you wouldn´t have to worry about your personal data.

Just let the third partition not be formatted in the installation process (choose “something else” or “manual partitioning” or whatever it is called) ) and you´re good to go. :blush:

Of course you can perform your own personal setup to your liking, that was just a suggestion:wink:

Many greetings
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

I think that is a very valuable suggestion.

1 Like

I for one, no longer use a separate /home partition, I do use timeshift and also manually copy my
personal data to another mounted partition. Most Linux now can be ran in one / partition, and if the
PC has enough ram, a /swap partition is really not needed.
Run Linux with a rolling release and upgrades are a part of keeping Linux updated.

1 Like

I installed Mint 21 on my laptop. Of course, I backup the areas before starting the install process. I chose the option of “Something else”. Did a clean install, formatting the partition “/”, used the same /home partition but did not check the box to format it.
The install went smoothly and I have no problems to report. Not a heavy PC user, meaning I do not do have customization to the the OS and only had o re-install a couple programs. The only small option I use, I use a separate partition to store the Timeshift images.

1 Like

I am not sure about this, but would it not be better to store the timeshift images on an external disk?

I use Borg rather than Timeshift, but I put the Borg backup files on an exrernal usb disk. I also use Clonezilla, and it s images go on the external disk too.


1 Like

Hi @nevj,

Yes, you are absolutely right. The best place for any kind of a backup is on an external disk. I just figure that losing the whole disk is low, plus I would be more upset about losing my personal files then I would be losing the the OS. I also have Timeshift setup to take automatic snapshots.
I do however take a monthly CloneZilla backup of the OS & EFI partitions and keep it on an external storage device.

Take are,


The backup utility that comes with Mint has two types of backup: docs and etc that go into a large tar file, and manually installed programs that go into a text file with the extension .list
I cannot tell yet just how thorough that <.list> file is, and it is likely that the PPA are not included.