Re-installing apps after fresh install: App inventory?

I’ll be doing a fresh install of (probably) Ubuntu on my lappy… when I get it. I’ve been down this road before and, thanks to the Very Fine People[tm] here, I’m aware of the more common gotchas. No problem there.


Where’s the magic script/app/whizbangery button that can, essentially, take an inventory of my apt-based distribution which also has pips, appimages, flatpaks, snaps… not to mention a scramble of ppas and themes?

Each time I’m in the glorious situation where I get to do a “fresh” install, I employ my bestest google-fu but always come up short. How can I inventory what I have already installed when the application types have multiplied?


I spend probably way too much time thinking about this exact problem (mostly because I’m a recovering distro-hopper). The sort of too long didn’t read answer is: There isn’t a magic script that does what you’re looking for for an apt based system as far as I know, but with a lot of hard work you could use Ansible to do basically what you want.

This is sort of the raison d’être for projects like NixOS which thanks to reproducible builds allow your system to be quite portable. You can even start with a VM of NixOS and then take the configuration.nix file and install that same system on bare metal. I’m personally a huge fan of NixOS but it does require re-learning how running your whole system on Nix changes the Linux fundamentals you’re familiar with.

I’m also a fan of Elementary OS and Pantheon support in NixOS isn’t great last time I looked so currently on my Framework I’ve created a series of Ansible playbooks to configure my install of Elementary OS to get a similar experience to NixOS. Creating these Ansible playbooks took me about a days worth of free time to dial it in to where I could wipe my drive and pretty much end up back to having all of my apps installed in under an hour. Elementary OS switching to flatpaks has made that process even easier.

All in all I wish this story was better on Linux in general. NixOS is doing well with this but they’re the exception and not the rule. I don’t envy MacOS very often but Migration Assistant makes accomplishing this kind of task a lot easier.

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Shaun, thanks for taking the time to respond. I learned about NixOS and found y.a. reason to learn Ansible. I’ll update as I figure the way forward.

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Glad I could help, thanks for asking this question! It actually inspired me to look into Pantheon support on Nix OS which looks like it’s still under active development. Maybe I’ll get to combine my two favorite things again in the near future.