If it is possible, should be pretty basic, but I am puzzled how to ask Google the right question (or it is impossible).

Lets say we have


We have homedir and some subdir.. programs will use naturally from homedir(*/home/user*)

What I need is to temporarily change home user to */home/user/candidate*, so programs will call */home/user/candidate/conf*, instead */home/user/conf*

Now, I don't need usermod or anything else to change permanently /etc/passwd, i want to temporarily force programs to use my directory, thinking it is home, but on reboot fetch */home/user* and act normal.

Using */home/user/candidate* as home only session long, no usermod stuff.

2 Answers 2


You could use bind mount to make this redirection:

mount --bind /home/user/candidate/ /home/user/

This way, /home/user will show the contents of it´s subdir candidate. After making all you need, umount will destroy the binding:

umount /home/user/

More docs about bind mount:

  • 1
    that would do perfectly if it to do as i think it will. off to another station, will let know of result Apr 25, 2014 at 18:50
  • i´ve made a test inside /tmp and it worked as expected. hope it works for you too. Cheers
    – user34720
    Apr 25, 2014 at 19:01
  • 1
    seems perfect. as i was thinking, it isnt hard, after you know what to look for.. google answers gave usermod answers, and i can assume i asked wrong questions Apr 25, 2014 at 19:01
  • Another option is aufs, that is something like a overlay filesystem to multiple directories into one mountpoint. Could be usefull to make /home/user read-only and /home/user/foo read-write. I just don´t if it will work as mount bind with subdirs. - aufs.sourceforge.net
    – user34720
    Apr 25, 2014 at 19:23
  • Any reason why you wouldn't want to just export HOME=/home/user/candidate?
    – suazi
    Mar 17, 2022 at 10:46

A more portable, fleeting solution that doesn't involve mounting one folder over another (yuck) is to just export HOME=/home/user/candidate.

  • 4
    If you run HOME=/home/user/candidate "$SHELL" you get a shell with a displaced HOME. Type exit to exit that shell.
    – Kusalananda
    Mar 17, 2022 at 10:54

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