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In my infinite wisdom, during a system upgrade, I somehow managed to remove 'ubuntu-desktop' and several other key packages. As a consequence, my desktop is now gone - I only see a standard X terminal window on login.

Any suggestions for how I might rectify this situtation (short of full reformat and reinstall; I have mails and other content on the hard drive that I wish to retain)?

I've tried simply reinstalling ubuntu-desktop with apt-get as suggested by fossfreedom below, but then it complains about dependencies not being met. Can I ask it to install dependencies automatically somehow?


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can you connect via ethernet not wifi? from a TTY you could just reinstall the ubuntu desktop package i.e. sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop – fossfreedom Sep 1 '11 at 21:58
... possibly this Question could help you connect wirelessly via CLI:… – fossfreedom Sep 1 '11 at 21:59
No, I have no ethernet connection. I'll check out the link, thanks. – Anders Feder Sep 1 '11 at 22:11
Apparently, it's nearly impossible to access WiFi from the command line. However, I fortunately had a 3G connection set up that I can use. I've edited the question correspondingly and added a response to your suggestion, fossfreedom. – Anders Feder Sep 2 '11 at 0:22
I had to do an apt-get update; apt-get dist-upgrade. Now I can launch unity, but it looks completely unthemed. – Anders Feder Sep 2 '11 at 1:19
up vote 3 down vote accepted

'ubuntu-desktop' and several other key packages

As it may be possible to reinstall all removed packages this is a time consuming process, even more so as we obviously don't exactly know what packages and how many were removed.

It is safe to reinstall Ubuntu and keep all private data from your home when you take care not to choose "Erase" during the installation process. By choosing "Upgrade" as depicted below all you data in your /home are kept untouched. However you will have to reinstall additional packages that are not installed by default and you will also have to reinstall customizations you may have made outside your HOME directory.

As always it may still be wise to backup your data before you do so.

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