For all of my friends who believe that I’m a well-adjusted geek, you might want to look away for a moment.

Suw and I recently bought a terabyte of drive space so that we not only have fast, modern hard drives but also so that we can back up all of our crucial files. It also allowed me to take Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux that I had on two small and slow drives and put them on a single dual-booted drive. I was able to simply clone the Windows drive using MaxBlast from Seagate. However, I wasn’t quite able to clone my Ubuntu drive because I wanted to change from Ext3 to ReiserFS file system, and despite Ubuntu’s alternate installer having a way to copy an install from an existing partition, it just wasn’t clever enough to copy the partition when they weren’t the same file systems. I also tried ArsGeek’s directions on how to use dd to clone the drive, but I also ran into the same issues in terms of different file systems.

I wondered if there was a way to effectively clone an installation by exporting the packages that I had installed. A quick Google search found a post that said it would be easy, but that didn’t quite work. It never generated the file of installed applications. I also tried to use the Synaptic installer to create a script to install the marked applications. Again, promises, promises, but the script was empty no matter how many different ways I tried to select things. 

However, I found several posts that suggested simply that I run the following command:

dpkg --get-selections > some file name

That managed to generate a list of all of the packages I had installed. I read some other suggestions about command line options to install all of those packages, but I actually just ended up using Synaptic. Under File, there was an option to read the file of installed apps that I had created. I might have even been able to do it all in Synaptic, but this method worked the trick. It’s now happily installing 254 packages that were on my old installation. After I sort a few more settings and copy over the old files, and I should have new life for my old Ubuntu installation.