It's been an interesting week since I partitioned the hard-drives on my two Ubuntu machines.
My laptop has been running 10.04 like a trooper but, a few days after my changes, my desktop started to display some rather erratic behaviour with boot problems and random freezes. A quick review of my system logs told me that I had some serious problems (a couple of my logs exceeded 1.5GB in size!) but I couldn't pin down any particular error. Moreover, just as inexplicable was that the used space on my root partition now exceeded 25GB (that's just the operating system and software apps)!
I've always been suspicious about upgrading operating systems; in part I suspect that this is my experience with Windows upgrades. So, I decided to do a vanilla install of Lucid on my desktop.
Installing Ubuntu is easy: just follow the instructions on the installation disk. However, if you have partitioned your hard-drive so that your files and settings are on a separate /home partition, caution is required when it comes to creating the mount points. When the installation sequence arrives at the partition menu, select the Specify partitions manually (advanced) radio button and then click Forward. Click on the partition that you want to house the root partition and invoke the Edit partition dialog. Set your parameters and, for a clean install, check the Format the partition option. Click OK.
Next, you'll need to tell Ubuntu to mount your /home directory. Select the partition where your files and settings are stored and invoke the Edit partition window. Leave the settings at the default values and make sure that the Format the partition option is unchecked (for obvious reasons, this is really important!) and that the Mount point: option is set to /home from the drop-down options box. Click OK and then Forward to complete the partitioning sequence.
This worked flawlessly for me and all my files and settings were waiting for me in the /home/user_name/ directory when I booted into my clean install. However, be prepared for some odd behaviour and error messages until you have installed any applications that look to the /home/user_name/ directory for their configuration files!
So, the bad news is that my installation of Ubuntu caused me some problems and had to be re-installed: the good news is that my partitioning strategy worked and saved me from a tedious restoration of files and settings!
Sources & References
Ubuntu Wiki Release Notes - discussion about known installation issues.