[nSLUG] Inventory/history/log of installed software/packages

Joel Maxuel j.maxuel at gmail.com
Wed Aug 31 21:02:43 ADT 2011

Good evening Frank,

I know this isn't a good fit for the problem (compared to the other
suggestions), but dpkg does have an option that dumps all packages
installed (or later removed) into a text file:

dpkg --get-selections > /path/to/package_list.txt

I've done compares with other installs in the past to find subtle
differences in how packages interact with each other.  There is also a
--set-selections option for when you're ready to reinstall everything
once the offending package is removed from the list (to get your
favourite packages back).

More generally, I've added this to my system backup script (before
copying over my home directory) in case my box goes down for any
reason that require a reinstall (fingers crossed this doesn't happen):


echo System Backup
echo -------------
echo Selecting Files...

mkdir /home/shared/Drop/Backup/current
tar cvvs /etc > /home/shared/Drop/Backup/current/etc.tar
tar cvvs /usr/local/bin > /home/shared/Drop/Backup/current/usrlocalbin.tar
tar cvvs /var/www > /home/shared/Drop/Backup/current/varwww.tar
dpkg --get-selections > /home/shared/Drop/Backup/current/packages.txt

echo Cleaning Up...

chmod -R 775 /home/shared/Drop/Backup/current
chown -R joel:shared /home/shared/Drop/Backup/current

echo Done.

Hope this helps.

> On Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 11:38, Frank Geitzler <
> frank.geitzler at ns.sympatico.ca> wrote:
>> **
>> I was 'bitten' recently by upgrading to a new release of Ubuntu on my
>> laptop computer, and then within a few days applying a number of recommended
>> fix packages.  The result was a system which would not bring up the desktop,
>> and I was uncertain which package had caused the problem, nor how to undo it
>> if I had been able to do so -relatively new to Ubuntu, coming from a Windows
>> world.  I was able to boot to a terminal, and back up my /Home folder to a
>> USB hard drive.  I eventually installed a complete new release, Ubuntu
>> 10.04.3, but have not yet done any updates, nor have I restored the backup
>> files.
>> Is anyone aware of a method of keeping track of installed products/levels
>> and/or packages and their history other than Ubuntu's package manager, or
>> the Synaptic Package Manager?  I would like to be able to review a text file
>> or database on another computer (Windows or Ubuntu, I have both on a desktop
>> system).
>> I am about to begin recovering the data from my backup, beginning with my
>> email messages and address book, which I assume are in the hidden folder
>> '.evolution' which is in my backup under '/home/frank'.  I have not opened
>> evolution since my reinstallation, and there is no '.evolution' folder in my
>> '/home/frank' folder.  I *think *I can just copy the '.evolution' folder
>> into my new '/home/frank' folder, and then open evolution.  I hope that when
>> I open evolution, it will search for and find that restored data -does
>> anyone have any experience or opinion on this?  Will it cause any problems?
>> I hope to see some of you next Monday at the NSLUG meeting.
>> Frank Geitzler

Joel Maxuel

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