I'm new to Ubuntu. I inherited a computer from another person. She installed many small programs for bioinformatics in the root folder and /usr/local/bin.

I need to be able to remove the old versions because they either interfere with the new version, or, even if I try to run the newer version using the whole path to their command, and/or include the path in PATH, still the old version will be used.

I have trouble accessing these folders so that I can delete files. Or would deleting individual files even just make the problems worse? Most of these tools are not found through the Software Center or apt-get.

Anything I can do besides formatting the whole drive and starting from scratch?

I also have similar trouble with shared libraries for perl, bioperl, python, you name it. They can't be found, they can't be updated etc. I know this is not truly an Ubuntu question, so even a redirect to better source for answers would be appreciated (books or websites).

  • 2
    What OS is this? – George Udosen Oct 13 '17 at 18:44
  • 1
    It's not clear to me why you want to avoid reinstallation. Do you need the software you're talking about, or some other things on the system? – Zanna Oct 13 '17 at 19:07

If you want to remove installed programs on /root folder I recommend you just to delete any subfolder related to those apps. For example, if you have a program called 'biolis' installed in /root/biolis, just do:

sudo rm -r /root/biolis

I just checked my own Ubuntu installation and in the /usr/local/bin folder I only have manually install programs, so you can use the same step above.

sudo rm -r /usr/local/bin/biolis2

I hope this works for you.


In situations like yours, it is often easiest and fastest to install a fresh version of Ubuntu or Ubuntu community flavour (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, ... Xubuntu).

Before installing, try it live (booted from a DVD disk or USB pendrive),

It will help us help you, if you tell us details about the computer

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