How to re-install Ubuntu easily

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Sometimes, in the beginning of your Linux adventure, you'll want to re-install Ubuntu. Because you've inadvertently spoiled the system beyond easy repair (it happens to us all!).

A re-installation will typically only take about two hours: half an hour for the installation itself, plus an hour and a half for installing extra software, tweaking and configuring.

There are several ways to re-install (as always), but this is probably the quickest and easiest way to do it:

1. Backup your personal documents, music, pictures et cetera, on an external storage medium. Like a DVD, an external hard drive or a USB memory stick.

You can save e-mails and some application settings as follows.

First, make the hidden files visible.

Click in the Ubuntu sidebar on the icon of your home folder (called Files).

Use the shortcut (key combination) Ctrl h to make the hidden files visible, or do it like this:

In the task bar of the file manager: Files - Preferences - check:
Show hidden and backup files

Now close the file manager and open it again.

Now you can see the hidden files and folders (with a dot before the name, such as .mplayer). They contain application settings. Some of those you'll want to keep.

For example: if you use Thunderbird as an e-mail application, then the e-mails are in the hidden directory .thunderbird (as well as the account settings of Thunderbird and the address book). If you want to save your e-mails and settings, copy this directory to a USB memory stick.

Same goes for other specific application settings that you want to keep.

2. Boot your computer from the Ubuntu DVD and start GParted:
Click on the grey Ubuntu logo in the top of the side panel (Dash home). Query: Gparted.
Click on Gparted Partition Editor.

Then use this fine disk partitioner, to completely destroy the Ubuntu partitions. All actions you do in Gparted have to be confirmed by a click on the Apply button in the panel (the green tick V), before they are being executed. An extra security measure, no doubt....

Note: don't format the Ubuntu partitions, just destroy them. Including the swap partion! The result will be "unallocated free space". Have a separate home partition? Better destroy it as well (good riddance).

Note: the swap partition needs to be unmounted before you begin. In Gparted, do as follows: click with the mouse on the swap partition, then right-click with the mouse, and choose Swapoff. Then you can proceed. Destroy the swap as well!

3. Reboot your computer. Don't remove the Ubuntu DVD.

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4. Let the DVD check itself for errors: in the beginning, hit the space bar and choose "Check disc for defects" in the DVD boot menu.

5. When no errors are found, boot your computer from the DVD again and choose "Try Ubuntu".

6. Establish internet connection and start the installation by clicking the desktop icon of the installer.

The installer will use the unallocated space automatically, without notification. Namely when you select the "alongside" option for the preservation of your existing Windows. Which is exactly what you want.

After you've agreed to its proposal, the installer takes automatically care of the rest!

However, should you feel so inclined, you can also do a manual partitioning.

7. Now finish your shiny new Ubuntu installation with some polishing.

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