I currently quad-boot my laptop and each of those OSes occasionally gets replaced. It can be messy to keep track of your documents, music, pictures, etc. when distro-hopping. In the past I’ve tried retaining a separate /home partition. This partially works, but can go bad quickly if you’re running different versions of the same software. I’ve worked out a slightly different system that I’ve been pretty happy with for the last couple of years.
The first step is to create a separate partition for your media. If your only jumping between Linux distros then you can pick your favorite file system. If you’re looking to share with OSX or Windows you’ll need to compromise with a file system like FAT32 that is supported by these operating systems.
In the photo above you can see I have set aside space for two Linux distros at the front of my SSD. The remainder I have allocated to my media.
I have moved all of my media files to the media partition and mounted it at /mnt/home with the following entry int /etc/fstab
UUID=xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx /mnt/home ext4 defaults 0 2
The magic sauce
Use mount –bind to mount each of these folders in their standard location under your home folder.
The bind option works much like a symlink, with the distinct difference that it’s not a link. Instead, the same data is accessible in two places within the directory tree. By explicitly linking only the folders you want shared, the remaining configuration files can remain different between OSes eliminating any conflicts.
The /etc/fstab entries look like this
/mnt/home/hp/Documents /home/hp/Documents bind defaults,bind 0 0 /mnt/home/hp/Music /home/hp/Music bind defaults,bind 0 0 /mnt/home/hp/Pictures /home/hp/Pictures bind defaults,bind 0 0
If any of your folders have spaces in their name, use 40 as a substitue in /etc/fstab. For example
/mnt/home/hp/VirtualBox40VMs /home/hp/VirtualBox40VMs bind defaults,bind 0 0