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my home directory is on a separate partition which still uses ext3. Is there a way to convert this partition into ext4 in a non-destructive way?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Yes, you can. This is explained very nicely in the ext4-wiki at kernel.org. Basically it all boils down to

tune2fs -O extents,uninit_bg,dir_index /dev/DEV
e2fsck -fDC0 /dev/DEV

with /dev/DEV replaced by the partition in question. Although this should be non-destructive, I'd still strongly suggest to back up your data before doing it.

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It's also worth noting that this will not automagically convert existing files to use extents for example. –  Kristof Provost Sep 29 '10 at 19:28
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I cannot express strongly enough how important it is to backup your data before doing a transformation like this. –  killermist Jun 14 '12 at 0:35
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