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Unhappy with Gnome 3 in Ubuntu I tried Mint 14. Had a backup of my home partition. During the Mint installation I designated my old home partition, and when it booted everything was fine.

There were a couple of loose ends in Mint 14 that required fixes to make my cloud server work and VariCAD 3D modeling program would not install. This install was on an old 40GB hard disk that I put aside by disconnecting it.

VariCAD indicated they supported Fedora and Debian, both which I had been wanting to try for a long time. However Fedora had, like Ubuntu gone with Gnome 3, and Mate was not yet available as a standard alternative, so I've put aside Fedora for now.

I had a /boot in an extended partion, as I had read that there should be no issues with that location, and as boot files are not accessed often, it seemed like a reasonable thing to do. However it did not work until I moved the boot to the beginning of the disk. I surmize it's because of an old BIOS.

My partitions initially included a primary partion for the swap, one for my OS (Debian), and an extended partion for my data partitions, and the 4th primary partition was my home backup (just the way things evolved). To make room for a boot as a primary partition I killed my backup, assuming that Debian would simply take my existing home partition like Mint had.

When I installed Debian and gave it my home partition location to mount on /home, with instructions NOT to format, I expected Debian to behave like Mint, having the reputation of being more conservative, not to say safer. Not so. It squashed my home.

What tools and methods are there so I can recover what I can from my home partition please?

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"squashed my home" meaning what, mkfs? You replaced your backup partition by home, resulting in a 100 GiB /boot or what? –  Hauke Laging Mar 4 '13 at 0:32
    
Hi Gilles, Well it means that I had a 30GB home partition filled with 22GB of files. When I booted Debian the Home directory (and partition) was empty. Mapping of /home was confirmed to the right partition. –  Christian Martel Mar 4 '13 at 21:14

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