Linux Mint – Reinstalling Mint while Retaining Data

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As Linux Mint doesn’t feature an upgrade utility, the only option for someone to move from one version to another is to reinstall the entire distribution. New versions of Linux Mint are released every 6-7 months, and most releases are only supported for 9 months. This means that in order to keep updated, you may need to reinstall it twice a year. Linux Mint does feature Long Term Support ( LTS) releases, which are published around every 2 years. However, LTS releases may lack the hardware support necessary for their installation on current machines. As non-LTS releases are published more frequently, it’s only natural for them to include newer kernels, which in turn support newer hardware. So, what do you do? This appendix is dedicated to helping you overcome this limitation by learning how to retain your home directory and packages between installations.

In this appendix, we will discuss the following topics:

  • Considering LTS releases
  • Why an upgrade utility isn’t included
  • Preparing for the migration
  • Installing Linux Mint while retaining /home
  • Importing a list of packages for reinstallation

Considering LTS releases

Before we get into the process of installing Linux Mint while retaining data, it’s important to first mention the LTS releases that are available in Mint. LTS releases are supported for 3 years, unlike the 9-month period of non-LTS releases. If reinstalling Mint is an inconvenience for you, you can consider the LTS releases instead. The main downsides of LTS releases are that the kernel is usually out of date (and therefore, the latest computers may not work well with them) and applications are also not the newest versions. If this is not an issue for you, using LTS releases would mean that you would need to redo your installation less often. The process of retaining data between installations, discussed in this appendix, is compatible with the LTS releases as well. So, you’ll still be able to use the same method to keep your installation updated.


Linux Mint is considering basing all future versions on Ubuntu LTS releases, though the final decision hasn’t been made by the time this tutorial went to press.

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