I am using Windows 7 on a single laptop with the following accounts:

  • an Admin account (for running Windows Update, Windows Backup, and installing programs)
  • a user account for Work
  • a user account for playing Games
  • a user account for Podcasting (= not work, not games)
  • sometimes user accounts for Visiting friends & family (so they can browse the web or use the printer without messing with my work files etc.)

Each user account (and the admin) store files in their own bit of their hard drive. In addition, I use the public folders for things which I want to access from all the accounts (music & podcast MP3s, shopping lists, etc.).

I often use Parental Controls to force myself to log off from Games or Work at certain times! Obviously, I know that it's possible to use my Admin password to play games from my Work account, but since I have to work and play at the same desk, I find that having them in separate accounts helps my work/life balance.

Due to the impending end of support for Windows 7, and the fact that Windows 10 is known to brick this model of laptop, I am planning to move to Ubuntu. As a first step, I plan to install Ubuntu to a USB stick (I don't think persistent is a good choice, because I want to get used to daily work and play on Linux before I mess with the internal hard drive). I have an existing NTFS non-system partition (D: on Windows) that I should be able to use to share data between the two OSes.

How can I create a setup serving the same functions on Linux, separating work from play?

I believe that the root account will function in the same way as my Admin account, though I believe that it is customary to use sudo rather than logging in as root.

I also believe that each Linux user can be given different /home folders for storing documents/savegames/podcasts. But my reading to date suggests that all users must share the same set of programs (in /usr/bin), so that my games will always be accessible to my Ubuntu Work account. Is that right? Also, how can I make my MP3s accessible to all users? Do I need to keep them on the D: partition, or is there a sensible way to store them on the Linux partition?

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    Just in general , SuperUser is designed for one-question-one-answer. I suggest researching, experimenting, and finding a local mentor until you can narrow down your questions. I've put some suggestions in my initial answer, and will address your specific questions. Jul 15 '19 at 21:03
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    Another option for experimentation is VirtualBox or similar (assuming your laptop has the resources to handle it). You can create and destroy Linux instances to your heart's content and mess around with different setups to see what might work. Jul 15 '19 at 21:25

The fact that you are the careful kind of person that checks if Windows 10 bricks your specific model is good; it means that you will probably have a good time with Linux. However, if you only have one computer, I strongly suggest buying a separate computer to test Ubuntu on. The best way to learn the new OS is to try it, which exposes you to losing data and wasting time. Get a cheap computer with Ubuntu already installed, or have someone who's familiar with Ubuntu work alongside with you to install the OS. You can also test it from the install disk, but you won't save any progress between reboots, and it's easy to accidentally disconnect the USB stick.

It IS possible to install to separate partitions. It is VERY easy to accidentally lose all of your data.

Don't work with any important data until you are familiar with the OS. Use cloud storage like Google Drive for anything you want to save. Keep a notepad on your existing computer (or a physical notepad) for important notes. I keep a list of important settings changes I like to make when I make a clean install, for instance how to get my specific sound setup working.

The account called 'root' means the highest-level user in Linux OSes. Not all have an actual account called root; for instance, Ubuntu doesn't. There are admin users who are able to act as root with sudo, but you shouldn't log in as a separate user called root.

The same account separations are fine : MatthewAdmin , MatthewGames , MatthewWork , and Guest.

By default, if you make a new user using hte GUI tools in Ubuntu, the OS gives them separate /home folders. If they are not Admin users, they won't be able to see each other's files. /usr/bin files are indeed accessible to everyone. If you make a new folder like /shared and give it appropriate permissions, then all users will be able to access the folder. I don't suggest mixing Windows and Ubuntu on the same PC the first time you're trying Linux, because it's too easy to lose all data.

SuperUser is not a great place to start for this project. Start with some Try Ubuntu walkthroughs and the official wiki. When you have specific questions, try this similar site at https://askubuntu.com/ .

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