Reinstalling Linux

From: James Nylen 
------------------------------------------------------
I always find the process of reinstalling an OS very painful, and I try to
do it as rarely as possible.  But, I'm running Ubuntu 10.10 on my main PC,
and it is really starting to show its age, along with some strange quirks.
 The last straw is that gnome-panel refuses to display the system-monitor
applet now.  I like having those important system health indicators always
visible.

(I'm probably going to switch to plain Debian next, or maybe something like
Bodhi - I want nothing to do with unity on my desktop).

The problem is that I have a lot of custom configuration (Apache with a
fairly extensive custom config and related scripts, a few important patches
installed, custom window manager setup, etc.) that will be pretty
time-consuming to redo.

So here's my question: in the future, how can I minimize the time spent on
annoying things like configuring my webserver how I want after a reinstall?
 Any good methods for lightweight application virtualization?

Also, is there a way that I can take my current machine, turn it into a VM,
and keep it running until I can get services back up in a new install?
 Preferably all this would happen with minimal downtime.

=============================================================== From: Randy Yates ------------------------------------------------------ You can grab copies of your Apache config files and put them back on the new installation if you have to. For you window manager, if you have a separate partition for your /home directory, you can just add back the same user to the new system and retain most of your desktop configuration settings.

=============================================================== From: Justin W Elam ------------------------------------------------------ or if you are really paranoid one can copy or use data duplicator the entire system to a portable disc drive ... then update the hard disc with your new system then copy back the critical system files ... good luck .. cheers -- Justin W Elam

=============================================================== From: John Aldrich ------------------------------------------------------ I always find the process of reinstalling an OS very painful, and I try to do it as rarely as possible. But, I'm running Ubuntu 10.10 on my main PC, and it is really starting to show its age, along with some strange quirks. The last straw is that gnome-panel refuses to display the system-monitor applet now. I like having those important system health indicators always visible. (I'm probably going to switch to plain Debian next, or maybe something like Bodhi - I want nothing to do with unity on my desktop). The problem is that I have a lot of custom configuration (Apache with a fairly extensive custom config and related scripts, a few important patches installed, custom window manager setup, etc.) that will be pretty time-consuming to redo. So here's my question: in the future, how can I minimize the time spent on annoying things like configuring my webserver how I want after a reinstall? Any good methods for lightweight application virtualization? Also, is there a way that I can take my current machine, turn it into a VM, and keep it running until I can get services back up in a new install? Preferably all this would happen with minimal downtime. Just as an aside... there are "spins" of Ubuntu that don't use Unity. Only the main Gnome-centric version uses Unity, AFAIK. For example, there's XUbuntu, Kubuntu, etc. :D