I want to change the default install path of the Ubuntu software center. I looked at this article: How do I change Software Center's default installation path? but a) it is for an older version of Ubuntu and b) it isn't clear - in the 3rd answer mainly - if moving the home dir will change the install path of new packages.

Initially, when I installed Ubuntu I was still using Windows, so I made the partition relatively small (40gb) expecting to install some apps, but use my third storage partition (400gb) to keep all my files. Now, I am planning on dumping windows, but don't want to do a clean Install of Ubuntu necessarily.

Furthermore, if I do a clean install, with the home dir backed up, will all my applications be backed up also?

Thank you in advance.


In your case, it would make sense to delete the Windows partition and then expand the one created for Ubuntu. You'll need to use Gparted from the Live CD/USB, and the only disadvantage is, it's gonna take a while -hours rather then minutes. Do it on a weekend, when you don't urgently need that computer.

The home dir doesn't contain applications, so, in case of a clean install, applications will need to be reinstalled. That said, there is a way to save the list of all currently installed packages, which makes the job of reinstalling them less tedious.


To save the list of installed packages, run

dpkg --get-selections > ~/Desktop/installed-software

That will create a text file with all the installed packages, back it up, you'll need it after reinstallation.

On the new system, place that file into your home folder, then run:

sudo dpkg --set-selections < installed-software
sudo apt-get -u dselect-upgrade
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  • How do I export the list of packages? I'm thinking the clean install might be the best way to go. – user47315 Feb 22 '12 at 1:39
  • see the edit above... – mikewhatever Feb 22 '12 at 2:32
  • Thanks, mikewhatever. Note: The reason I am doing the clean install is because I initially used ext2 as the file system. – user47315 Feb 22 '12 at 2:58
  • So, basically, we CANNOT change the installation directory for softwares installing from the software center. Right? – progyammer Apr 30 '17 at 14:29

Normally, when you install applications from the software center, they will blend in with the rest of the system. There isn't really anything quite similar to C:\Program Files from Windows. That is changing, at least for third-party software. When you buy an application from the software center, for instance, it will be placed in its own folder in /opt. This is similar to the Program Files directory, except that it will never contain any kind of personal information.

However, in a desktop system, there is never any personal information or settings stored outside your home directory. Everything personal, including all settings and data, is stored in your home directory and nowhere else. In other words, if you mount your home directory in a fresh install and then reinstall your applications, they will act as if the system was never changed at all. There is no central registry or anything like that. Everything is stored in your home. So it's very easy to do a fresh install. Just keep your home directory. The graphical installer can actually do this for you now.

Note that I said desktop systems. If you run an email, database, web or other server software, then they'll usually have their data in /var. I only mention this for completeness. If you don't know that you've done anything like that, then you don't need to worry about it.

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