HOWTO: Use a file list in Ubuntu for quick system restore

While I’ve read this plenty of times, today via Digg I found complete docs that I wanted to save on how to restore a Ubuntu Linux install; bringing it back to the way you had it from a fresh install easily. Why would you need this? Well, hard drives die, but more often (in my case at least) it’s fun to start with a fresh system when new versions of Ubuntu come out, or when you have to try out the latest/fastest filesystem, or you can’t live without the latest/bleeding edge apps/features. So to start, you’ll first need a snapshot of your installed applications on your working system, which is easy enough to do:

dpkg –-get-selections | grep -v deinstall > ubuntu-files

After this you could copy the file ubuntu-files to a USB thumbdrive, and while this would work, let’s go for some x-tra credit and have this created file emailed out for easy remote storage:

dpkg –-get-selections | grep -v deinstall > ubuntu-files;




cat ubuntu-files | mailx -s "ubuntu-files" fak3r@fak3r.com

When you reinstall the next time just do a quick base install of Ubuntu, which takes all of 15 minutes on today’s average machines, then drop to the cmd line, grab your ubuntu-files file and then run the following:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
dpkg –set-selections < ubuntu-files

Now you’re back to the point of your last snapshot with all the kewl apps you installed that broke things in the first place! Oh, wait…