Export list of apps installed for easy restore after Ubuntu reinstall

While slightly confusing for a first-time switcher from Windows/Mac, Ubuntu’s software install process is quite possibly the better than Windows and Mac. You can get trusted versions of most apps with just a couple of clicks, and updating is also single-click, unlike opening and checking for updates on each app in Windows/Mac.

However, if you need to reformat and start from scratch with a reinstall, then keeping track of installed apps and installing them on the new Ubuntu install can be a minor but very real irritation. Instead of manually writing them down (ugh!), here is a method to export a list of all software and also import that list for easy reinstall on the new system.

  1. Before reinstall, open Terminal (Applications > Accessories), and enter the following:
    sudo dpkg --get-selections > applist.txtThis is to output the list of installed apps to the file applist.txt to your home folder.
    Backup this file somewhere other than your Ubuntu partition, because we will import the data from file in next step.
  2. In the new Ubuntu install, place the applist.txt file in Home folder. Open terminal and enter:
    sudo dpkg --get-selections < app-backup-list.txt
    sudo apt-get -y update
    sudo apt-get dselect-upgrade

Please note that this merely restores the software that you installed, and not its settings and preferences. If you require a backup of settings/prefs too, then consider backing up Home folder for it.

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