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I am running Scientific Linux 7 with xfce in office... it took quite a while to get my environment productive (DevOps, ML Development python/miniconda, ...) and as this is for business not only private use I am interested to keep being productive in the most effective way.

As Scientific Linux is discontinued I have to get my things packed and move over to another distro which will be CentOS or more likely Fedora 30 (or any other Desktop-able RHEL 8 compatible distro). Things which I do on my workstation right now:

  • Logical Volumes for / and /home dynamically resized to fit my workload
  • running Postgres 11 Instance for development
  • Miniconda Environments for geoscience and torch for ml/dl tasks
  • terraform and ansible for cloud deployment and automation
  • ssh keyring setup
  • xfce Desktop on two screens
  • VPN Connections to some of our clients
  • Remmnia as RDP Client with a lot of configured connections I don't want to loose
  • ... and so on

My question is how to safely get most of my tweaks over to the fresh installed distro?

  1. Do I even need to format the /home partition?
  2. If I don't format it and use the same usernames, will my ~/ Folder find its way back?
  3. Better just copy data and profiles onto an external disk and copy back the things I need in the moment I really need it (I am afraid that I will have to keep this backup for years)?
  4. which other parts of the filesystem should I backup? (How to know where for example Remmnia is saving its connection configurations)
  5. Is there a dnf command to quickly export a list of installed packages which can be used for reinstall on the fedora machine then?

Generally: How would YOU do that?

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  1. Do I even need to format the /home partition?

    You don't need to, but...

  2. If I don't format it and use the same usernames, will my ~/ Folder find its way back?

    Yes. But the format and options of configuration files will likely be different in many places. So when you just use the new distro with the old config, things will break.
    You could create a new user with a new home and copy config-files over one by one to see what breaks or needs changes. Happy chown-ing...

  3. Better just copy data and profiles onto an external disk and copy back the things I need in the moment I really need it (I am afraid that I will have to keep this backup for years)?

    Yes, backups are a must-have in your situation.

  4. which other parts of the filesystem should I backup? (How to know where for example Remmnia is saving its connection configurations)

    /etc, /home, any data-bases you are working with. The list of installed packages will be useful, but be aware that package-names (and versions) might be different between distros. If you have installed things from outside your distro, keep note of the additional repos (that should be in /etc, but you should double-check).

Hope that helps!

  • In step 2, many programs can handle older configuration files. There’s no need to create a new user, the old home directory can be renamed and a new one created (with copies of the skeleton files). – Stephen Kitt Sep 4 '19 at 14:02
  • Accepted this, because it answered my main question 1) and 2) and therefore gave me a good idea what might be the correct path to take. thanks a lot! – Jürgen Zornig Sep 5 '19 at 6:44
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If you are comfortable with Scientific Linux, the closest would be CentOS. Fedora is quite a few steps ahead in software versions, that could be a problem adjusting.

You can try dnf list --installed to get a list of installed packages. You'd need to edit out exact versions and keep architectures to be able to take the list to install equivalent packages later.

I have had to reinstall busted Fedora installations. I saved configuration (essentially /etc), installed over the system (being careful not to format /home), installed the saved list of packages, and restored accounts and such form saved /etc. At least that is how I remember it, it was quite a time back. And it didn't involve different distributions.

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