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I already have Ubuntu, and I was told that if I re-install the software that it would wipe the hard drive. I clicked start download and a status bar filled up and said that the download complete but nothing happened? Is this because I did not boot from an external device? How can I reinstall? Any help?

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I am assuming you downloaded the Ubuntu ISO installer? You need to burn it to a CD or install it to a USB, then boot into the CD/USB to reinstall the OS. – Peachy Jul 27 '12 at 1:02

You've downloaded an ISO image of a CD-ROM. In order to install it, you will have to prepare a bootable medium of some sort (either burning the image to a CD with Brasero or creating a bootable USB stick with Startup Disk Creator), boot it, and install the software.

The community wiki installation page is here

Another topic I can think you might want to visit is ...

How can I keep recent files from appearing in Unity?

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Based on your question, you downloaded a reinstaller. If this was Wubi, the problem would be using am .exe file, and Ubuntu cannot open those without Wine patches. Now a recommended course of action would to burn a live CD or USB based on whether or not you have a disk drive. If you have a disk drive you should burn a live CD. You should have access to a disk burning application already and if you don't, they're available in the Ubuntu Software Center. After you burn the disk you need to reboot the computer. During the boot up, hold the key that allows you to access the BIOS settings. If you are using a Mac, if I can remember correctly, you hold down the "c" key, and if not, try "Cmd+C". BIOS keystrokes vary from computer to computer, however "f2" and "f12" I've found common enough. Simply find your boot device section within the BIOS and switch from the main Hard Drive to the CD drive. Now save changes and exit. You should now come to a Live Installation of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. Simply click install and there should be an option to erase the current drive and install Ubuntu over it. With a Mac, by holding "C" or "cmd + c" you should boot directly to yaboot (Similar to the GRUB boot manager), simply press enter, and you will enter the live install. Again there is the option to erase everything. The reinstall should wipe the disk.

Hope this was of help!

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