How to keep one copy of user files on a multiboot computer?

I have 3 linux distributions (debian, void, devuan) on a multiboot computer. I dont want 3 copies of my home directory, so for each linux I have a minimal home directory with just the dot files, and I keep all my workfiles on separate filesystem on a separate partition, and mount it to each linux.
Does anyone know a better way of doing this?
The difficulties are … programs like the mailer keep everything in dot files. So I can only fully use the mailer from one linux distro, otherwise I will spread my mail over 3 home directories. Dropbox is another culprit here.
You may ask why would anyone want to use 3 linuxes simultaneously. Well it is an experiment… I want to see where to go in the future, but hang onto one stable linux that I am used to.
Any suggestions welcome

Do you really want your home to be the same in every installation?
Or do you configure each of them in other ways?
Normally I would suggest, to mount that separate partition of yours as the /home for all three installations.
But as I sayd, there might be some programs, that manage their configs in other ways.
And given that these are three slightly different distros, some other problems with “one /home” may occur.
MAybe it’s not a good idea from the start.
But I’m no expert , let’s see if some of the more experienced fellows can give advide.


What about soft linking the dot files from a partition that is mounted at boot time?

I’m not sure about using the same copy for three distros–too many variables or hidden files could cause problems. I usually run a different distro on each of three different hard drives, but they’re totally separate. All data that isn’t temporary is backed up on a fourth SSD, available to all distros.

Perhaps it’s my old brain that’s failing me, but what is a dot file? Right now, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the term.

Was about to say just that, but with hard links. Well, the point is, you could just link the files into each /home and then you have your shared environment.

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I think there has been some misunderstanding of what I want to achieve.
I have 3 separate /home directories, and a fourth filesystem called /common. The / home directories contain only dot files (ie file whose name begineps with “.”) plus a link to /common. I do all my work in /common so that is the shared part.
I dont think it would be a good idea to share the dot files because even if applications such as mailer are the same in all 3 linux distros, their versions may differ, so sharing a dot file might make problems. I dont think there is a solution to the dot file issue.
It is a bit of a nuisance havong to go down one level into /common every time I login. I can solve that problem with xfce. One can set xfce to restore the windows present at logout. I cant do that with gnome, dont know about other environments.
Thank you to all for thinking about it


I suggested soft links, because it’s my understanding that you can’t hard link across file systems (i.e. partitions/disks).

I believe, what you’re looking for is a script for copying the files at startup, maybe checking for version discrepancies.

Could be a bit of a hassle to set it up, but you’d gain a truly consistent environment.

Yes Mina, that is correct, hard links must be within a filesystem

On startup script.
Yes , that is an idea worth pursueing.
It might allow me to only share the mailer folders, and leave the other dot files separate for each linux. There are some dot files one definitely does not want to share.
Thank you, Neville