I'm sure for the Linux pros out there there is a really obvious way of doing this, but is there an easy way to backup an Ubuntu software configuration, essentially as a distribution?

To clarify, I just installed Ubuntu 12.10 on my laptop. I went through a ton of updates, installed a bunch of software, configured some settings, etc., and I would like to essentially "store" this configuration essentially giving me an image that I could use to restore the computer to the same point if I needed to. While I know I can just dump the contents of the disk, I wanted it to be a bit hardware agnostic so if I needed to I could install onto different hardware (perhaps replicating the setup on a different PC).

I think what I am looking for is a way to take my current configuration and turn it into a custom distribution, but I'm not sure of an easy way to do this that will retain all my updates and configurations. I imagine there is probably an easy way though since this kind of replication seems like it'd be common in IT use.

Edit: As additional clarification, the backup cannot require an internet connection to work (i.e. all the packages, updates, and configurations should be stored with the backup) and it should not be tied to a specific hardware configuration (so I don't think a direct disk image clone will work).

Any ideas?

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  • @InkBlend While that question is almost the same, it's too ambiguous in its requirements. I do not want a list or log of all updates I've performed as most of the responses suggest. The next closest response mentions cloning the disk, which I don't want to do as specified in my question. This is a backup I need to be able to use on different hardware configurations without an internet connection (i.e. all the packages and configurations are part of the backup). It can't be tied to a specific configuration and it can't require I download the packages.
    – Anthony
    Feb 24 '13 at 3:09
  • Good point. I will create an answer specifically for your situation.
    – fouric
    Feb 24 '13 at 4:23

In Linux, there are two kind of configuration files: system-wide and per-user. The system-wide configuration files are stored in /etc, and usually (but not always) apply to system utilities, such as iptables. The per-user configuration files reside in your home directory with names beginning with a dot, such as .bashrc, and hold specific configuration files for each user. By default, these files are hidden from sight in most file browsers and from ls. Press Ctrl-H to toggle hidden file viewing in Nautilus and use ls with the -a option. To create a backup of the configuration files in /etc, simply run cp -r /etc destination, where destination is the folder that you wish to have a backup of /etc in. To create a backup of the configuration files and folders in your home folder, just run sudo cp -r ~/.* destination, where destination is the folder that you wish to have a backup of all your dot-files (another name for files starting with a dot) in.

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