What is the correct way to install Linux (LMDE2 in my case) to a new drive (SSD) and correctly copy over /home files?

Partition Scheme on both harddrives was the same:

- /dev/sda1 linux-swap
- /dev/sda2 /
- /dev/sda3 /home

I think I went about it the wrong way. I used nemo to simply copy the contents of my /home/andrew folder to two external harddrives(for redundancy). I then installed the new LMDE2 on a new 250gb SSD. I then moved the /home/andrew folder from the external harddrive to my new OS and deleted the /home/andrew that the installer had created. This created all sorts of problems because of file permisions. I tried to change file permisions with

sudo chown -R andrew:andrew /home/andrew

which sort of worked, but I still had problems. For example, I couldn't open gedit from terminal for example.

sudo gedit

Some error to do with .Xauthority in my /home/andrew folder.

I then tried this approach. I booted into a live usb and:

sudo rsync -aXS --progress /media/mint/250GbStorage/andrew  /media/mint/(long uuid)/home

Then I ran the installer again mounting

/dev/sda2 as / 
/dev/sda3 as /home

The installer simply created a default /home/andrew folder and all my files just appeared in /home/home/andrew. Deleting /home/andrew and renaming /home/home/andrew to /home/andrew just creates the same problem as before.

My final approach was to install the OS then simply copy my documents, desktop, music etc individually from /home/home/andrew to home/andrew using nemo and everything works just fine. (I didn't copy the configuration files.

Is my mistake that I did not correctly back up my home files? If I did mess up by incorrectly backing up my home files, how do I recover from this? I have already deleted my original partion?

I have tried searching for this in many permutations in google but can't find a solution which I understand. There are lots of people who say that you should have your files in a separate /home partition but no definitive guide which explains an easy way to install a new operating system on a new drive and how to migrate your files.


1 Answer 1


You did nothing wrong per se in your first attempt. It is just that some files, like .Xauthority has a special meaning/use and should not copy it from one system to another. But not copying all hidden files (that is the dotfiles) is not a good idea either as you will loose a lot of customizations you may want to keep. It would have helped however to do the copy outside of any running X session, and even without being logged with your username.

If you were able to keep your old disk, you could have installed the OS on the new one, and just use the old one as your /home. After a few successful logins (this would make sure that files that need to be upgraded/replaced would be) you could then move everything to your new SSD harddisk.

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