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New Computer from ZaReason

I have purchased computers in the past from System76 (and been extremely happy with them) because they offer Ubuntu pre-installed. I’ve heard so many people praise ZaReason that I wanted to check them out. I just bought a (highly customized) Limbo 7110. So far, I am really happy, although I should confess I only received the system a few hours ago.

I’m also happy with how easy it is to migrate my entire setup using Linux (well, Debian-based, anyway). For those unfamiliar, here are the basic steps, with the same operating system and version installed on each computer (I have Ubuntu 10.10 on both of mine):

On the old computer, enter:

sudo dpkg --get-selections > pkg.list

Save the file and transfer it to the new computer along with your data (copy everything in /home, including all hidden files/folders that begin with a dot).

On the new computer, ensure that you have the same set of software repositories enabled (you can copy /etc/apt/sources.list or use another method as you prefer). Then, enter:

sudo dpkg --set-selections < pkg.list

to mark the packages for installation and:

sudo apt-get -u dselect-upgrade

to install them. Wait.

Reboot when done. Voila, your computer has been cloned. I make a lot of customizations and have a ton of data and non-default packages. Even so, the entire process took me less than three hours. My new system is set up identically to my old one, but faster and with more storage and memory. Rock on!


  1. matthew

    If you have customized any settings in /etc, you want to copy those as well, so keep that in mind.

    Also, if you use

    rsync -av /source /destination

    to backup your data on the original computer to an external drive and again from that external drive to the new computer (or directly from the old to the new one using a network connection), and name your account the same thing on both computers, then file ownership, etc., is taken care of for you.

  2. iheartubuntu

    Looks like a nice system! Im torn between a Sys76 or a ZaReason computer for my dad. Still trying to sort it out.

  3. iheartubuntu

    PS… great bit of info on cloning!

  4. Jeremy Bicha

    It doesn’t keep track of which of those packages were automatically installed and sometimes it’s nice to start fresh without having every single program you had installed previously.

  5. Kevin van Zonneveld

    I always thought you were supposed to run apt afterwards like so:

    Is that no longer the case?

  6. matthew

    Kevin: oops. I forgot a step. I hate it when I do that. I didn’t use precisely the same command as in that link. I used

    sudo apt-get -u dselect-upgrade

    but it does the same thing and is vital. –get-selections/–set-selections only marks them and apt must be used to install. Thank you for catching that! I’ll update the original post.

  7. matthew

    Yes. That is why I suggested copying your sources.list file. If you have used any custom repos, you definitely need to enable them on the new computer as well.

  8. John M.

    if you have set up any custom repositories such as PPAs on launchpad you need to add those on the new computer before doing this, right?

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