[ubuntu-uk] Upgrade vs Reinstall

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Tue May 12 18:44:57 BST 2009

2009/5/12 Lucy <lucybridges at gmail.com>:
> 2009/5/12 Robert Longstaff <dreamfish at dreamfish.org.uk>:
>>> Hi -- I was just wondering, why it is that the community-at-large seems to
>>> think that it is better to reinstall to a newer version of Ubuntu rather
>>> than to run the upgrade?
>> I'm personally an 'install from fresh' person, but that's
>> just me ;)
>> Otherwise, I heard two anecdotal stories at a recent LUG
>> meeting of people upgrading to Jaunty and it taking several
>> hours. In fact, one person re-did it from fresh on their
>> machine at the meet and it took about 35mins.
>> Any thoughts on this?
> The upgrade I just did downloaded over a gig worth of data, but as I'm
> on a fast connection the entire install was complete in about 30-40
> minutes. If I was on a slower connection I would probably have been
> better off using a cd instead. On the other hand, f I had less
> installed on this computer then it would have been quicker again.
> Generally, if my machine is working nicely I'll just upgrade. If I've
> installed a lot of crud or otherwise broken things then I'll go for a
> fresh install. I certainly don't see the need for a fresh install each
> time.

What Lucy said.

If you have a clean system, with few extra apps installed or standard
ones removed, that you've not hand-installed custom drivers on, built
some bits from source, hand-edited your config files and so on - then
the upgrade should go fine. Between 4.04 and 7.10 I reinstalled from
scratch at least 2 or 3 times.

But this time, I tried the upgrade, and it worked fine. This was a
clean install of 8.10, but I've mucked about with it quite a lot and
it still worked. I'm pleasantly impressed.

My notebook has even gone from 8.04 to 8.10 to 9.04 with no major
issues. Flash stopped working when I was running the beta of 9.04 but
by the release version it was fine.

I think part of the reason is that Ubuntu is quite mature now and so
is changing less and less between versions. The only things I can spot
different post-upgrade are a newer version of Pidgin and the
Ayatana-notifyOSD notifications in the top right corner. I'm sure
more's different under the covers but it's not immediately apparent.

In general:

The key thing is to keep your /home directory tree on a separate
partition. That makes re-installing much less painful and fiddly.

Windows 7 has made some leaps and bounds in this department - now
there is an option to reinstall on an existing partition, while
preserving its contents. Before, it wiped \WINDOWS and mixed old and
new entries in \Program Files and \Documents and Settings.

Now, Win7 archives all the old stuff into \WINDOWS.OLD and builds a
new system from scratch in the root directory. You can then manually
retrieve what you want from your old directories, then bin them.

This is a step towards Mac OS X's "Archive & Install" option, which
leaves all your user settings (in /users rather than /home) and
applications (in /Programs) intact but archives all the system boot,
Unix binaries and settings directories into "Previous Systems" for you
to root through and delete later.

This would be a good feature for Ubuntu to copy sometime, I reckon.

Liam Proven • Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/liamproven
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