Using Settings from a Previous Linux Install

From the PCLinuxOS Wiki

When you install PCLinuxOS you may be replacing a previous installation of another version of Linux. You may have decided to keep your old /home/yourname folder and all its contents. This will contain a lot of your personal data. However, it will also contain a number of settings that were made by the other distro, and some of those settings may prevent your shiny new PCLinuxOS installation from running properly.

Most of your personal files are visible files. When you click on the Home icon, they are listed. However, filenames with a dot at the beginning are hidden files. Well, they are not that well hidden. All you have to do is, in the menus at the top of the screen, click "View" then "Show Hidden Files". Now you can see them in all their glory. These files store settings, and are made "behind your back" by other programs. Some of these files and folders may prevent certain things from working if they were created by an older Linux installation.

One way to deal with this is as follows: The first time you boot into KDE, as user, you create a folder in your /home/yourname folder called "old". Then move all your "dotfolders" and "dotfiles" (as we call them) into it. This is better than deleting them, because you may wish to restore some of the settings. If you then log out, then back into KDE, you will see the default setup. You will notice that any KMail/Thunderbird settings you had have vanished. All your cookies have disappeared. Your Bookmarks in both Konqueror and Firefox have gone. Well don't worry, the purpose of this page is to get them back for you.

(Even if you don't use Firefox / Thunderbird, read that section for the simplest drag and drop method of doing this)

Thunderbird and Firefox

These are relatively easy. You just have to replace any new .mozilla (and NOT .firefox) and .thunderbird folders with the old ones you stored earlier. Better still, if you do this before you ever run them. If you run "Home" to fetch up your Konqueror File Manager, you can click from the top menus Window > Split Left/Right and get a dual pane. If you then click on the "old" folder in one of them, you can just drag-n-drop the folders back into your home folder. If a new folder had been created, delete it first.


It is quite easy to recover the following: Bookmarks, Profiles, and History. They are all stored here:

  • /home/yourname/.kde/share/apps/konqueror/

To recover your cookies, you need to copy over the following:

  • /home/yourname/.kde/share/config/kcookiejarrc
  • /home/yourname/.kde/share/apps/kcookiejar


KMail is part of Kontact, the KDE PIM (Personal Information Manager) but can be run on its own. It can be a real nuisance to type in all your KMail settings from scratch, including passwords, much better if you can copy the setup files over.

Well they live in the following places:

  • /home/yourname/.kde/share/apps/kmail
  • /home/yourname/.kde/share/config/kmailrc
  • /home/yourname/.Mail
  • /home/yourname/.kde/share/config/emailidentities
  • /home/yourname/.kde/share/config/emaildefaults

KAddress Book

This is also part of Kontact, and lives on the "Contacts" tab! The address books are stored at:

  • /home/yourname/.kde/share/apps/kabc


Currently, OpenOffice settings are stored at:

  • /home/yourname/.openoffice.org2

Provided you are using the same version, I can see no harm in moving this one across. Rejigging menus in OpenOffice can be time consuming so give that one a go.

Why Bother With Some?

Some dotfiles and dotfolders relate merely to last screen position, or contain trivial data and will be rebuilt next time you run the program. Why bother preserving them and run the risk of one of them messing up your system?

These ones must go!

There are some folders that get left over from other installs which are nothing but trouble. The one that crops up time and again is:

  • /home/yourname/.config

This interferes with the PCLOS menuing system. I found that I had one of these folders left over from Mandriva. As a result, PCLOS insisted on displaying Mandriva menus! Some entries were for programs that were not there, and some programs that were there did not appear on the menu. No matter how often I edited the menu, it never changed. I don't know what moved me to delete this folder, but as soon as I did, it worked!!!

File Permissions

This one can be tricky. By default, when you create a new user, your user is assigned an id and a default group. In PCLinuxOS, the userid defaults to 500, 501, 502, etc. Some other Linux distributions default to 1000, 1001, 1002, etc. If you find that you are locked out of your own files, make sure your new userid matches the old one. The easiest way in Konqueror; right click on a file or folder that you are locked out of and select "Properties -> Permissions" tab. If the user is a number, then it does not match your new PCLinux userid. Now you have a choice.

  1. using a root login or Superuser, you can change all the permissions of existing files to your new account. or
  2. You can logout and then login as root, then delete your existing account (don't delete the home directory) and recreate your login using the same userid number that your old installation used.

Another thing that may be different is your group. By default, PCLinux creates a group with the same name as your username and sets it as your default. So whenever user1 creates a file, it will be owned by user1:user1 (username:groupname); many other Linux distributions default to user1:users. Now this probably won't be a problem if you are the only one who works on your computer, but, if you share a folder or network drive, other people may find that they suddenly can't edit your files anymore. If you want to change this you have three options:

  1. Change your default group to users or another group that other users can be a member of.
  2. Add the other users to your default group.
  3. After you create any new file you want others to be able to edit, change the ownership to the shared group.

Options 1 & 2 may introduce some insecurities, while option 3 requires some extra effort on your part on an ongoing basis.