RE-INSTALL and UPGRADES
Sometimes, due to whatever dark reason , you will have to do a re-install of your distro. ( As you´re new to Linux you often mess up your system just because you´re not sure how to do things in Linux and try keystrokes / mouse clicks at random. It has happened to the best of us ! ) In that case it´s good to know that all the personal files and settings can be saved without a problem. All these files are stored ( sometimes hidden ) in your /home directory. So at a reinstall you re-format all your partitions except your /home and in the case you have one the /backup partition. This way you won´t have to redo all the preferences of your desktop and all your mail, mail-settings & addresses will be saved !
Because a re-install does often not take more then half an hour, it really is no big problem . . .
Every now and then ( mostly 6 month ) there will be a new release of your favorite distro, with updated packages and the newest versions of KDE, Gnome, Mozilla etc.
There is a golden rule for upgrading: for a jump from let´s say 9.1 to 9.2 you can take the upgrade option at install. This will only upgrade those packages that are new. However this is NOT always the best solution, but any software that you installed yourself after the previous install will stay intact. ( I personally do prefer a clean install at every change of version number. I just leave the /home and /backup as it is )
A jump from 8.2 to 9.0 ( major version ) however means always a clean install: re-formatting all partitions ( also /home, not the /backup ) The personal settings for KDE and Gnome will simply have to be done again . . .
Your mail and bookmarks however can be backed up and imported in the new version after install.
Golden rule: nothing beats a clean install !
-- Jun 13 2003 ( Revised Dec 11 2005 ) --