Clone an Ubuntu system using Synaptic Markings

synaptic logoHow many times have you had to reinstall the OS on your computer and then had to install all your favorite pieces of software by hand. I’m sure it’s quite painful. And even more so when you forget to install a couple of software and then have to install them in a crunch when you need them the most.

The Synaptic Package Manager bundled with Ubuntu (and available for Debian and most other debian based distributions) has a very cool solution. Synaptic is a graphical package manager for debian based distributions and is the default package manager installed for Ubuntu and is quite popular on that platform.

Synaptic lets the user export (and import) a file which contains details of all the software that is installed on the system.

The file is called a “Markings” file. To create a Marking, fire up Synaptic and click on File – > Save Markings. Provide a name and you’re done.


Now, the next time you reinstall Ubuntu, just fire up Synaptic and click on File -> Read Markings and point it to the Markings file that you created earlier. That’s all.

This works the best if you’re installing the same version of Ubuntu or Debian as the one the Markings have been created on. And if you do try to use this trick on a newer version of Ubuntu, Synaptic might complain about a couple of version mismatches between software … nothing that some manual apt-get‘ing can’t solve.

How do you guys handle OS reinstallations ? Do you write down all the software that you use and then reinstall them by hand ?

4 thoughts on “Clone an Ubuntu system using Synaptic Markings

  1. mate, looks like you’ve been of great help to many here. Kudos to that:)

    I have an iphone 4 and jailbroke it. something went wrong and I lost ALL data:( I want a backup of my contacts and text messages (if possible) REAL bad! Thing is I dont have a Mac.. So if i could maybe pay you something, would you be able to do it for me? Please please help?:)

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