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I have a Dell laptop that is a few years old and i bought second hand. It was meant as a secondary computer but i am using it more and more these days and it's become my main workstation.

Currently it's running Ubuntu Mate but it's running into some issues lately with unexplained errors popping up etc.

I was thinking of just reinstalling Mate but came across Elementary.

Currently I have a 500GB SSD that is divided into partitions. The / and /home partitions are seperated.

If i install Elementary on the / partition without touching the /home will Elementary just continue where i left off with Ubuntu Mate? Or are these so fundamentally different that it's better to start over completely?

I am mainly worried about some Firefox bookmarks/saved login information and SSH keys for several machines that i want to keep. Is there other things i need to add to this checklist before considering a migration?

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Based on my experience doing the same with Ubuntu16.04 and Loki - If you keep the home partition it will be better to use the same username and password during installation - the password later can be changed safely but the username has to be kept. But doing like this probably some of the problems will be transfered into elementary OS also, because it is possible the reason you have them to be in your home folder. Also for sure some settings of Mate will not work for Elementary. In order to skip this, before you install the OS move all ~/.folders and ~/.files in some temporary location and after install and log in with the new but old user to put back the ones you need. Keep in mind that most of the applications put their settings into ~/.config folder, all ssh keys are into ~/.ssh folder.

Another option is to create different username and copy the ~/.firefox,~/.ssh and ~/.config/firefox folders to the new account from the old one. Keep in mind that every user has an UserID, by default the first user is 1000, the second 1001 etc and you will have access with the new user only to the folders with the same userID but it can be changed using chown or chmod commnads.

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