Installing elementary OS JUNO with a separate /home partition

June 2, 2020

Let’s see how to install elementary OS using a separate /home partition ! It will also apply to any distribution using Ubuntu’s installer.

Be warned ! Playing with partitions and reinstalling is a destructive operation ! YOu might lose data if you’re not careful. Please backup before installing and setting up your partitions !

The installation is easy: Download the Juno ISO file from the elementary OS website. By default, they’ll ask for a bit of money to help them keep the engines running, but if you just want to try it out before youd ecide if you like it or not, you can set a custom price of 0. Don’t hesitate to reward the developers if you find the distro enjoyable, they’ll surely appreciate it ! Once the ISO is downloaded, Plug in your USB key, then, open your USB creation tool, such as Image Burner, or Etcher, burn the ISO on it, and reboot your computer. Tweak the BIOS or EFI settings to start from the USB key, and you should see an installation screen pop-up. Select “try Juno” to make sure everything works.

During the install, elementary OS will ask you a few questions, most notably how to install. You’ll have three options.
Erase disk and install elementary: this one is to be used with caution: it will wipe the entire disk, and erase any OS and files you already might have, and use all the space to create a single partition for the system and the user directories of / home. This is the easiest if you already have backed up your system and you want to only use elementary.

Install alongside system: if you already have an OS installed, elementary will offer to resize its partition, and install alongside that OS. If you already have a windows install, or another linux distro you want to keep, this is the option to choose.

Something else: this will allow you to pick the partition setup you want to use. This is the option we want to look a today !

Once you’ve selected the “something else” option, you’ll see a screen that looks like this. All drives will be shown here, with their identifier: sda, sdb, etc… You need to identify the drive you want to install on. On each drive, you’ll the the existing partitions, with their number; sda1, sda2 etc…
Now you want to create enough space for installing the system, so you’ll need to either reuse an existing partition, or create some free space to install on.
If you need to resize partitions to make some free space, you can use the Gparted tool which is already installed on Juno’s live USB.

Here, I’ll delete the existing partition to free up some space, so I’ll select the partition, and click the “minus” icon. My partition will be deleted, and free space will be created in its place. At this stage, the modification I asked for isn’t really being applied: my partition still exists, if I leave the installer, nothing will have been changed.

Now, we’ll want to create a partition on which to install the system. On elementary, and Linux, the system is installed in the “/” directory. Let’s select our free space, and create a new partition, by clicking the “+” icon.

A little window will pop up to let you change the settings of that partition. You can select the size of the partition you need. I’d like to use 30Gb, which should be plenty for the base system and programs, but if you have more space to spare, about

You can select a primary partition, or a logical one. You can only have 4 primary partitions at any given time, so if you have many operating systems, you might be limited. A logical partition is a “virtual” partition which you can use to store data, you can have as many of these as you want, so if you like to compartiment things, you can go for a logical partition.

Since we only have this free space available, we’ll select the partition to start at the beginning of the free space.

Then, the file system. Linux and elementary mostly uses ext4 these days.

Finally, the mount point: this is the folder your partition will be available from. On Linux, there are no separate drive letters, like on Windows. Every drive is assigned to a folder on the main filesystem, “/”.

We still have some free space left, so let’s use it ! Just select the free space available, and create a new partition. I’ll make it a primary one , but it could be a logical one as well, on a system with multiple OSes !

Now, I’ll select the mount point: “/home”. /home is the users directory, where all files from all users will be stored. This allows you to reinstall just the base system without deleting any of your personnal files !

You could have the /boot folder, the one where your boot loader is stored, on a separate partition. This might even be required if you want to encrypt your “/” partition. For a server, having a separate partition for the “/tmp” folder, where all temporary files are stored, might be a way of preventing your hard drive’s saturation.

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