ALWAYS backup /etc and /boot before making changes!
Here is a fast note from the pain of experience. Aimed at new users:
/etc is where your gnu/linux stores it's configuration. Its function is similar to the Windoze registry. As you install, uninstall, and work with various programs, /etc changes. Sometimes, things change that make your system act unexpectedly.
A fairly easy way to backup, is to use a script. Don't panic, it's not difficult.
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1) open a console
enter root password
3) # mkdir /var/backup
4) # vim /usr/sbin/prep4change
replace "vim" with text editor of your choice
5) cut and paste the following short script
echo "What is about to happen?"
echo $Filename."~".$Note >> /var/backup/notes
tar -cjf $Filename /etc/ /boot/
6) save the file, and exit your editor
7) chmod 755 /usr/sbin/prep4change
this makes the script "executable"
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Next time you are about to install, remove, or change something, just issue prep4change as root.
If the unthinkable ( but expected ) should happen, and things stop working correctly, you have your /etc and /boot already backed up.
Your backup will be located in /var/backup
You can also $ tail /var/backup/notes to see why you made what backup
Again, this isn't the most elegant, but it's simple, and it works! From my experience, the more bells and whistles something has, the more can go wrong!
Good you learned that, though hard way.
Suggested minor change
Having also learned from the school of hard knocks, I used this script to backup the directories and it worked very well. However, prior to using it in preparation for system changes, I thought it would be prudent to ensure I could recover the directories. I found that when I decompressed the bz2 file, I could not extact the tar file.
I modifed the script provided for the definition of the file name, changing the output file extension as follows:
In doing so, the decompressed file is now recognised as a tar file and can be readily retrieved. Perhaps this was necessary due to changes to the bzip2 since the original post. I hope this suggestion proves to be helpful.
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