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Ubuntu 11.10 is now a few days away. I have quite a lot of apps installed on Ubuntu 10.04. How can I effortlessly upgrade from Ubuntu 10.04 to Ubuntu 11.10. Please suggest the minimal disruption route. In case I have to reinstall all the apps how can I take a backup of all the apps that I have..

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There are two supported upgrade paths for Ubuntu; LTS-to-LTS and stepwise. That means that you should be able to easily upgrade from 10.04 to 12.04, but from 10.04 to 11.10 would require some steps:

  1. upgrade from 10.04 to 10.10
  2. Upgrade from 10.10 to 11.04
  3. upgrade from 11.04 to 11.10

This would take quite some time, and because of unusually large changes in 11.04 and 11.10, I don't think I would recommend you even attempt it. If you are using a normal desktop without webserver or SQL, etc, then all your apps are configured in your home directory. This means that if you install a new Ubuntu and install your apps anew, then they would automatically use your current configurations and data. If you do have MySQL or similar installed, then it becomes more complicated as they often store their data in /var or other places.

Ubuntu 10.04 is supported until April 2013, so you shouldn't feel rushed to upgrade. In April you'll be able to upgrade directly from the update manager. If you do want to, then it might still be possible to use the new graphical installer to replace your current version, but I haven't tried that myself. You would then have to install your applications afterwards, but they would be automatically configured.

You do need to take precautions and please don't do this without having a backup.

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One option would be to upgrade through all the intermediate releases - i.e. 10.04 - 10.10 - 11.04 - 11.10. I have a few machines which have been continuously upgraded from 7.10 or maybe earlier to the current version and they're still running fine.

Another option would be to dump the list of your installed applications using

dpkg --get-selections > installed_applications.txt

Then you can make a clean install (this will be easier if you have /home on a separate partition, but supposedly Ubuntu installer is able to keep /home even it's on the same partition), and then re-install the applications using

dpkg --set-selections < installed_applications.txt
dselect update
apt-get dselect-upgrade show

Because the applications keep their configuration in your home folder, all application settings should be preserved.

Make sure you have a backup before attempting anything :)

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The asker said they are running 10.04, not 11.04. That might make the procedure for upgrading to 11.10 quite different. – Christopher Kyle Horton Oct 7 '11 at 2:19
@WarriorIng64 - thanks, I updated the answer – Sergey Oct 7 '11 at 2:47

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