Linux Tip: Reinstalling Ubuntu

Sometimes if a system has been around a long time, upgraded a bunch, perhaps restored from backup, it will start to act up in weird ways. This is the dreaded “cruftiness” that Windows was famous for. You could treat a Windows XP system delicately, and there would still come the day when it was performing so badly it was easier to reinstall the OS than try to fix it.

Well, it can happen to linux, too. I was seeing odd behavior with suspend and resume, and very slow wifi reconnect times, and after dutifully filing a bug I eventually determined the problem was some crufty junk on my system related to a hard drive transfer I’d done.

I thought I was in for a class Linux Weekend — install the new OS, copy my home folder, and then painstakingly reinstall all the programs and packages I use that aren’t in the default installation.

No need! Ubuntu now has a special installation mode called “Reinstall”. It preserves all your user files while cleaning out the system folders completely. Then it installs a fresh OS and tries to install as many of your programs as it can find.

After I rebooted, there were a tiny number of custom-installed programs that the system couldn’t reinstall, but otherwise everything was where I left it and suspend and resume now work perfectly. Ah yes, and all of my wifi access points have been forgotten. For something I just let run over night, this was relatively painless and worked great! 5 stars.