At the time of writing, Linux Mint 11 (Katya) has not been officially announced, but the final release is now available on at least one of their mirror servers.
Naturally I had to install it.
One of the many things I like about Linux is the ability to create partitions for various areas of the OS. The lesson I learned in the past year is that one essential trick is to give /home its own partition. The rest can fend for themselves.
My current setup is an extended partition beside my Windows one. The extended is divided into the Root partition (around 12Gb) and the Home partition (around 90Gb). Some may say that allocating 12Gb to Root is a lot (it will work on a quarter that) but some applications require a lot of temporary space, and the /tmp folder is included in that partition.
As a result of this partitioning, all my personal stuff, from documents and downloads through to program settings and mail accounts are all stuck in the Home partition. The trick then is that when installing (or reinstalling) a new version of the OS, you set the small Root partition to be formatted and set the large Home partition to ‘/home’ but do not set this partition for formatting.
The end result is that the OS is installed in a nice clean partition, but all your files and settings remain intact. Fire up Firefox? There are all your bookmarks, and even the tabs that were open before the installation. Open up Thunderbird? There are all your accounts and mails.
A lovely example of the convenience of this method is that I have VirtualBox installed. I have several virtual machines set up, including one for Windows 7. After the upgrade to the OS, it is a simple matter of reinstalling VirtualBox and voila – there are all my virtual machines just as I left them. I have saved myself the bother of having to restore tens of gigabytes of data.
All in all, from burning the DVD through to having all programmes up and running took less than an hour, and I use quite a few programmes that aren’t on the release DVD. Not bad?
Now I have to play with my new version to see what’s what!