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Thread: HOWTO reinstall Ubuntu without loosing configs (even if /home not separate)

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    Exclamation HOWTO reinstall Ubuntu without loosing configs (even if /home not separate)

    Reinstalling Ubuntu may sometimes be the quickest way to solve a problem (eg. if you broke your graphic driver).

    Few people know it, but since Hardy it's possible to reinstall Ubuntu without loosing the content of the /home folder (which contains program settings, internet bookmarks, emails... and all the documents, music, videos that you have put in it). Even if /home is not a on separated partition. (which is the case by default if you did not manually separate it).

    Here is HOWTO do it simply:

    1) by security, backup your documents and settings (including /home hidden files) on external disk or DVDs. Remark: some special applications settings may be in system folders, eg LAMP, see below in the thread.
    2) run Ubuntu installer
    3) go until the "Installation type" (or "Allocate disk space") menu
    4) If you are using Ubuntu 11.10 or newer, you just need to select the "Upgrade 11.10 to 11.10" option of Ubuntu installer :



    5) If your are using Ubuntu 11.04 or previous, you need to choose manual partitioning ("Something-else" entry), then select Ubuntu system partition, set its mount point as "/" (keep the same format type, the same size, and untick the "Format" checkbox).

    After reinstall, user accounts must be re-created with same login/password.

    (I also created a wiki page in order to improve this HOWTO collaboratively: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuReinstallation)
    Last edited by YannBuntu; April 7th, 2012 at 11:09 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: HOWTO reinstall Ubuntu without loosing configs (even if /home not separate)

    I am trying to fix an 11.10 installation ... but the upgrade 11.10 to 11.10 option is disabled.


    Why is that?

    Can I use the "something else" option safely to get around this?

  3. #3
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    Re: HOWTO reinstall Ubuntu without loosing configs (even if /home not separate)

    I could really do with a way to do a clean install but not lose all my installed services and their settings. I've set the machine up as an AFP, web and SFTP server and don't want to have to do it all again.

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    Arrow Re: HOWTO reinstall Ubuntu without loosing configs (even if /home not separate)

    @iamronen: sorry i don't know why you don't have the option. Maybe we could find an explanation in your BootInfo URL. Please could you indicate it?

  5. #5
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    Re: HOWTO reinstall Ubuntu without loosing configs (even if /home not separate)

    Hello Yann,

    I believe we communicated in email (I've been having boot problems for quite some time).. and after reviewing my logs you suggested I try to recovery installation ... only to find it disabled

    I've generated an up-to-date summary:
    http://paste.ubuntu.com/913516

    All Things Good

    Ronen

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    Re: HOWTO reinstall Ubuntu without loosing configs (even if /home not separate)

    Hello Again Yann,

    I am trying to use the "Something Else" option and when I choose the "sda1" partition and click install now I get an error message saying that "No root file system is defined".

    Could this be an indicator about the problem I am experiencing?

    All Things Good
    Ronen

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    Arrow Re: HOWTO reinstall Ubuntu without loosing configs (even if /home not separate)

    Hi Ronen,
    "No root file system is defined" means that you forgot to set the "/" mount point to your system partition (sda1).
    Reminder: don't forget to untick the "Format" checkbox for sda1 if you want to preserve your configurations.

  8. #8
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    Re: HOWTO reinstall Ubuntu without loosing configs (even if /home not separate)

    Helly Yann,

    Thank you. I am happy to report that my Ubuntu now (after many months) boots from the hard drive. However the installation was somewhat destructive.

    I've had to restore the user accounts (the files were on the hard drive but the accounts were not created) ... I found a way to do that. It seems I have a lot of more installation to do.

    Amongst other things it seems I've lost my LAMP stack installation. Does this mean I've also lost any databases I had? If I install MySQL will the databases themeselves be restored? is there something I can/should do before installing the LAMP stack?

    Gratefully Yours
    Ronen

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    Re: HOWTO reinstall Ubuntu without loosing configs (even if /home not separate)

    After reinstall, user accounts must be re-created with same login /password, i will add this to the 1st post.
    Concerning LAMP, sorry i don't know.

  10. #10
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    Re: HOWTO reinstall Ubuntu without loosing configs (even if /home not separate)

    Thank you Yann.

    In the backup instructions I would a warning to people using a LAMP stack to backup anything in the var/www folder and MySQL databases.

    I don't know what else resides in the var folder ... but it seems like a vulnerable space that is both a system folder and a potentially data-containing folder.

    After installation I also had to resinstall some packages that are not in the Ubuntu core installation. Settings and data for these application were kept safely in the user home folder ... however applications were missing.

    I wonder if the Reinstall option was available if it would have done a better job.

    All Things Good
    Ronen

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