Why custom install is good

A number of times now I’ve been choosing custom installations. Recently, during my research for Ubuntu auto-backup system setup, I’ve found this Launchpad bug: Ubuntu re/install wipes out all/other partitions.

Lovely quote therein from R.C. Primak (emphasis mine) sums up my reasons and more:

You at Ubuntu are not alone in assuming too much knowledge on the part of newbies and even many experienced users.

I come from a different background. I have always done multi-OS/multi-boot installations, from DOS to Windows 95/98/XP/7 and 8 (previews and 8.0). And now Ubuntu Linux from 13.04 to 14.04. I have never accidentally wiped out any installed OS. Lost OS access a few times, but that could be fixed later (with difficulty). Read on to find out why I have been so “lucky”.

I have NEVER let an OS installer, disk or download or upgrade adviser, use ANY default installation routine. These are notorious for overwriting the entire hard drive, or even multiple internal drives, formatting them and then making the OS installation take over the entire disk or disks. What this thread describes is nowhere near unique to Ubuntu 14.04.

NO ONE makes it clear on their install disk selection screens, not even Windows System Builder Editions, that the failure to select “Custom partitioning” or a “Custom Installation” will result in the ENTIRE hard drive being reformatted. It is assumed that anyone sophisticated enough to be doing their own OS install from a disk (or a download) will know enough to choose “Custom” for ANY dual- or multi-boot or Repair or Upgrade In-Place installation.

While I can’t boast as many dual-boots as Robert can, I definitely can vouch for this:

  1. it’s hard to upgrade software cleanly
  2. it’s harder to automatically partition drives
  3. and upgrading OS means both

Therefore… backups, baby. Backups. And go custom-install, for no tech is a black box, no auto-wizard will be good enough. You shouldn’t expect that folks at Ubuntu (or any other OS) will think of all cases, including hardware you use, drive partitions and FSes you have and software you installed. That’s just too much with all the variety out there. Go custom-install and prepare to sacrifice some time and maybe – just maybe – you’ll avoid problems.

Robert’s full comment can be found here.

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