Hardy Heron -- Clean or Dirty

As the release of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS rapidly approaches, the all important question is beginning to form in everyone's mind. Upgrade, or freshly install.

It's always an interesting discussion to have with fellow Linux users, because there seems to be an almost religious divide between the two camps. Some feel that to really get the full experience of a new version, a clean install is the only way. The other side, however, argues that the Apt package management makes upgrading so simple and complete, that it's silly to reinstall. Let's take a quick look some advantages and disadvantages of both sides:

Fresh Install

Pros:
* You get to see any changes added to the installation routine
* It's a great time to change partition schemes if you want to do so
* If you have any lingering cruft from system hacks, etc -- they get sterilized
* You get that "fresh out of the shower" feeling when you log in

Cons:
* All settings and preferences are gone (assuming you wiped /home)
* All those system hacks might still be needed, and you'll have to redo
* It takes a long time
* You get less bragging rights about how long you've gone without a reinstall

Upgrade
Pros:
* Very simple. 2 commands and a reboot is all it takes
* Any system modifications usually stick
* Most preferences in applications upgrade fine
* You get to brag that you haven't reinstalled your OS in 10 years

Cons:
* If things aren't quite working right, upgrading seldom "fixes" things
* Some non-standard system modifications no longer work
* Occasionally new features aren't installed properly with an update (compiz?)
* You don't have an Ubuntu CD to give away to a Windows friend when you're done

In reality, personal preference is what determines the ideal scenario for the individual user. I personally like to reinstall the entire OS, including my /home partition. That might seem like overkill, but I really like that "fresh out of the box" feeling. Plus, I really enjoy the installation process, so for me it's just plain fun!

If you're an Ubuntu (or Kubuntu, or Xubuntu, etc) user, be sure to stay tuned later this month for the release of Hardy Heron!

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

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