the linux-file-structure: what needs to be saved while preparing a fresh installation?

dear opensuse-experts,

well this is certainly the best place to ask opensuse question in the world.

today i have question regarding the preparing of an upgrade.

today i want to ask a linux-question: i am preparing a upgrade from opensuse 13.1 to 13.2

and i want to do a fresh installation.

first of all - as a preliminary task i will do a saving of all the files - that are in the home of the current installation

what else shoud i safe - more than the /home/my_name

should i save anyting else …

Table 3-2. Subdirectories of the root directory

Directory Content
/bin Common programs, shared by the system, the system administrator and the users.
/boot The startup files and the kernel, vmlinuz. In some recent distributions also grub data. Grub is the GRand Unified Boot loader and is an attempt to get rid of the many different boot-loaders we know today.
/dev Contains references to all the CPU peripheral hardware, which are represented as files with special properties.
/etc Most important system configuration files are in /etc, this directory contains data similar to those in the Control Panel in Windows
/home Home directories of the common users.
/initrd (on some distributions) Information for booting. Do not remove!
/lib Library files, includes files for all kinds of programs needed by the system and the users.
/lost+found Every partition has a lost+found in its upper directory. Files that were saved during failures are here.
/misc For miscellaneous purposes.
/mnt Standard mount point for external file systems, e.g. a CD-ROM or a digital camera.
/net Standard mount point for entire remote file systems
/opt Typically contains extra and third party software.
/proc A virtual file system containing information about system resources. More information about the meaning of the files in proc is obtained by entering the command man proc in a terminal window. The file proc.txt discusses the virtual file system in detail.
/root The administrative user’s home directory. Mind the difference between /, the root directory and /root, the home directory of the root user.
/sbin Programs for use by the system and the system administrator.
/tmp Temporary space for use by the system, cleaned upon reboot, so don’t use this for saving any work!
/usr Programs, libraries, documentation etc. for all user-related programs.
/var Storage for all variable files and temporary files created by users, such as log files, the mail queue, the print spooler area, space for temporary storage of files downloaded from the Internet, or to keep an image of a CD before burning it.

well - reagarding the thunderbird and other things more.
note: i have thunderbird and enigmail up and running.

so i need to save
a. the passwords
b. the mails.

question: is there a need to save more than the home/my_name ?!

love to hear from you


If I do a complete new install (like with a format of the root partition) I think about the config files associated with packages belonging to root. You should have a think about what you might need to re-configure in your next version of openSUSE.

For example, I retrieve the config files for synergy, samba and apache2, plus my hosts file (some bits in there are associated with apache) and nsswitch.conf (a line in there is associated with ability to ping hostnames). For you these would perhaps be irrelevant, but do have a think about what’s being run for you by root, maybe you’ll save a bit of effort when setting up again.

Incidentally, you are able to upgrade from x.1 to x.2 directly without formatting the root partition, and that will hold on to your config files.

I did this a couple weeks ago. In addition to the home folder, I backed up some config files in /etc/…: exports (reused for NFS shares), fstab (for reference at least, no remote mounts here), samba config (reused for samba shares) and hosts (didnt need) files. Ah, also a CUPS config file that makes reference to a shared printer, but didn’t set it up yet.

If you keep your home folder during install, both firefox and thunderbird will find and use the data in their respective local forders, that include bookmarks, e-mails, account configs, remembered logins/passwords, etc. If not, it’s not hard to restore this data.

hello you both

well we have several methods to do this job.

zipper-dub (to do this i need a in depth-going-manual to do this)
dvd based upgrade - without a new formating of the harddrive
note: this is a method that can be done with the installation dvd.
i can choose this way and do this smart upgrade without getting lost the data in home

and last but not least the totally fresh install.

by the way: if i need to save thunderbird and enigmail -data. it is enough to take care that /home is backed up and saved…

If you have any mysql/mariadb databases, back them up to /home with mysqldump before you do anything.

I’m certainly not an expert but I think you should consider what you might have installed that lives in /opt. With a fresh install you might need to reinstall those applications.


hello dear John and dear Jon, :wink:

many many thanks for the hints. To create a file structure like so:

~> lsblk
sda 8:0 0 465,8G 0 disk
├─sda1 8:1 0 156M 0 part /boot/efi
├─sda2 8:2 0 400M 0 part /boot
└─sda3 8:3 0 465,2G 0 part
└─cr_ata-ST500LT012-xxx_xxx-part3 254:0 0 465,2G 0 crypt
├─system-swap 254:1 0 2G 0 lvm [SWAP]
├─system-root 254:2 0 40G 0 lvm /
└─system-home 254:3 0 423,2G 0 lvm /home

can i create this with gparted

well - how to do that?

note: as mentioned above - i want to do it with gparted
many many thanks

some additional questions - that may help me to understand this better: **update: ** how is this being done

└─cr_ata-ST500LT012-xxx_xxx-part3 254:0 0 465,2G 0 crypt
├─system-swap 254:1 0 2G 0 lvm [SWAP]
├─system-root 254:2 0 40G 0 lvm /
└─system-home 254:3 0 423,2G 0 lvm /home

this following line looks interesting. …

└─cr_ata-ST500LT012-xxx_xxx-part3 254:0 0 465,2G 0 crypt

what is the sense of this line!?
and - how to do this with gparted :slight_smile:

Firstly, the default formats for / and /home in 13.2 are btrfs and xfs. If you do a fresh install, these will be created for you during the install. If you use the DVD to do an upgrade, only / will be touched and this will be formatted btrfs. If you do a system upgrade ( there will be no changes to the formatting of your partitions.

Secondly, openSUSE uses parted to do this anyway; all you have to do to use it is choose the expert partitioner option during the installation or upgrade to override the above.

Thirdly, cannot help you with deciphering the extended partition string.

hello dear John

many many thanks for the reply.

That line cr_ata… is the line which shows the CD/DVD drive. gparted should be fairly self-explanatory -lots of folks from all over the planet use it. I just use fdisk, bit it is a CLI-tool, so maybe not everybody is liking this.

the above mentioned line is the luks-container-line

he takes over the encryption of all that is not root

can i ceate all the above mentioned things with a cli-tool.
hmm - guess gparted is pretty easy - easier than other tools