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How to Reinstall Ubuntu Through the Command Line

Reinstalling Ubuntu through the command line generally involves the use of the debootstrap tool or the do-release-upgrade tool, depending on what you mean by “reinstall.” If you’re trying to perform a clean installation over an existing system without a CD/DVD or USB, that’s a bit more complex and not typically recommended due to potential issues with system stability and data loss.

However, if you are trying to repair a broken system or upgrade to a new release, you can follow these steps:

Repairing Broken Packages or System

If you’re having issues with your system, you can try to repair broken packages first:

sudo dpkg --configure -a
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get -f install

This will attempt to fix any broken dependencies and upgrade existing packages.

Upgrading to a New Release

If you are using an older version of Ubuntu and you want to upgrade to the latest one, you can use the do-release-upgrade command:

  1. First, update all your packages with the current release:
    sudo apt update
    sudo apt upgrade
    sudo apt dist-upgrade
  2. Install the update-manager-core package if it is not already installed:
    sudo apt install update-manager-core
  3. Launch the upgrade tool:
    sudo do-release-upgrade
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to upgrade your Ubuntu version.

Reinstalling Packages

If you wish to reinstall all the packages to ensure they are in a fresh state, you could use:

sudo apt-get install --reinstall packagename

Replace packagename with the actual name of the package you want to reinstall.

For a more broad reinstallation, you could potentially generate a list of all currently installed packages, and then feed that list back into apt to reinstall:

dpkg --get-selections | grep -v deinstall | awk '{print $1}' > ubuntu_packages.txt
sudo xargs -a ubuntu_packages.txt apt install --reinstall

Full Reinstallation

For a full reinstallation (the equivalent of a fresh install) without a USB/DVD, technically, you could do this non-interactively by using debootstrap, but it’s complex and can easily lead to an unbootable system if not done correctly. It is beyond the scope of a simple guide and typically requires a separate partition where the new system is set up and then moved over to the primary partition, all while ensuring that you don’t lose your data or end up with an unbootable system.

Backup Your Data!

Regardless of the method chosen, it’s crucial to back up all important data before attempting any kind of reinstallation or repair. Data loss can occur, especially if you’re attempting more invasive operations like repartitioning or formatting.

Note

It is important to note that if your system is in a state where these command-line tools can’t run properly due to system corruption or other severe issues, you might need to perform a fresh install from a live CD/USB, which is the most reliable method to ensure a clean state. Always ensure that you have adequate backups before performing system operations of this nature.

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