I have a laptop with Linux Mint Rosa (17.3) installed on it. It's the 32-bit version, as I didn't even consider the possibility this several year-old laptop could have a 64-bit processor. As it turns out, it does, and I'm considering making the swap to 64-bit.

I have spent quite some time fine-tuning my settings, however, and I was wondering if there is anything I can do to save (i.e. migrate) at least some of my settings to the new system. At the very least, I'd like to save the layout of my panels. Is it possible to save some folders/files on a USB stick and then, after installing the new system, copy them back? Or is it apples and oranges?


It's certainly possible to backup & restore the settings you have made, but how to do it depends on which settings you mean.

Generally I'd divide the settings into two categories:

User Settings

These are the settings like the mentioned layout of my panels, they are specific to your user and should usually be stored in /home/<username>.

If you backup the content of /home/<username> and then restore it on the new installation all the user settings should be restored as well. It's important though that the software versions on the new system are not older than the software version on the old system, otherwise they might not be able to understand your configurations due to their format being too new.

System Settings

These settings are not specific to your user, they apply to the entire system. Different services have their settings in different locations, but most which stick to the LSB standards should be in the /etc directory.

It might result in problems if you copy the entire /etc directory to the new system, especially if the software versions on the new system are not exactly the same as on the old one.

If you need to migrate some system settings it's better to first find the precise file which they are stored in and only copy that specific file, if the version of the software using that file isn't the same on both systems I would also recommend that you check if the format of the configuration file has been changed and if necessary migrate the format.

General advise

In order to save yourself as much hassle as possible I would recommend that on the new system you first install the exact same software version as you've had on the old one (only 64bit) to make sure that the configuration files are still compatible. Once that's done and running you can upgrade it to the latest versions. That way you are still running all of the upgrade procedures on the configuration files.

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