How to reset Ubuntu

New Linux users are often faced with problems due to accidental changes in their system that eventually result in unstable system performance. But what about resetting the entire operating system to its factory default settings without re-installing it using a Live CD/DVD image. That means to return your system back to the original state when it was installed the first time.

In Ubuntu-based distributions, there is a way to do this. Resetter is an open-source application that is used to reset Ubuntu to factory defaults. It detects all the applications that are installed in the system after a fresh install and removes them. Not only applications but it also removes users and their Home directories. However, if you want to prevent some applications and users from deletion, you can do that by using custom settings. The good thing about the Resetter application is that it only deletes applications and users, not the data. The reset process consists of the following processes.

  • Loading installed packages
  • Removing installed packages
  • Cleaning up
  • Installing any missing packages
  • Removing old kernels
  • Deleting users

In this brief guide, we are going to look at how to reset Ubuntu operating system to its factory default settings by using the Resetter application. Resetter offers two methods to reset the OS to its default factory settings i.e. using Custom Reset and Automatic Reset. Here I will describe the custom reset method. However, we will see a little about what is automatic reset and how to use the automatic reset mode to reset the system.

Resetter supports these Linux Distributions:

  • Elementary OS 5.0
  • Deepin OS 15.8, 15.9, 15.10
  • Debian Gnome 9.6, 9.7, 9.9, 10.0, 10.1
  • Debian KDE 10.0
  • Linux Mint Cinnamon 18.3, 19, 19.1, 19.2
  • Linux Mint 18.3 Mate
  • Ubuntu Gnome 18.04, 18.10, 19.04, 20.04
  • Ubuntu Unity 16.04
  • Parrot OS Mate 4.7
  • BunsenLabs 10.4 XFCE

I will use Ubuntu 20.04 LTS for describing the method mentioned in this article.

Download Resetter Ubuntu Package

First, we will need to download Resetter from official GitHub repository that is currently the latest version of the Resetter.

cd ~/Downloads

Installing Resetter

After the download is completed, the next step is to install it. The downloaded setup is in .deb format. There are two ways to install it. The first is to simply double click the setup and install it. The second way is to install it using dpkg command. I will use the second way.

Press Ctrl+Alt+T to launch the Terminal application in Ubuntu. Then run the following command in Terminal to install it.

$ sudo dpkg -i resetter_3.0.0-stable_all.deb

Install Resetter for Ubuntu

Then run the following command:

$ sudo apt-get -f install

Force installation

After the installation is completed, type following command in the Terminal to launch the Resetter application.

$ sudo resetter

Here is default interface of Resetter looks like:

Start Ubuntu reset

Reset Ubuntu using Resetter

As discussed earlier, you can reset your Ubuntu OS using two options:

  • Custom Reset
  • Automatic Reset

Reset using Custom Reset option

Custom reset allows you to decide on which applications to remove for reset and which to keep. You can also decide to keep your existing user or to create a new one. While resetting, you can choose which user to delete, and to delete only user or delete both user and its home directories. You also have the option to remove old kernels.

To start with custom reset, click on Custom Reset option in the Resetter window. It will list all packages that you can select to remove. You can also choose to remove kernels by selecting the checkbox below. Select any package that you want to remove and click on Next button.

Customized reset

While configuring for custom reset, it lists some packages that are missing from your system and gives you the option to install them. Select packages that you want to install and click on Next.

Packages to install

In custom reset, it gives you the option to keep your existing users with their Home directory or to delete them. You can choose to select one or all users from the list. When the checkbox under Delete User and Home column is checked, it will remove the user with its Home directory. Now if you want to remove the user, select it and then click Next.

Delete local users

When you are done with all the configurations, click on Finish to apply the changes.

Apply changes

Then it will ask you if you want to create a new user account. Click on Yes to create a new account, otherwise, click No.

Here I am creating a new user account.

Create new local user

Set your username and password for the new account and click OK.

Set username and password

Now it will start the reset process.

Reset progress

In the Terminal, you can also view the ongoing reset process.

Resetter progress

When finished, click on Yes to reboot the system.

Reboot when finished

Reset using Automatic Reset

Use the automatic reset option to reset the Ubuntu OS completely to its default factory settings. It detects and removes all applications from the system which are installed or added after the fresh installation like Applications and the users with their home directory. However, it creates a new user during reset. Usually, it is not a recommended method for reset unless you want to reinstall the system from the very start.

To start with automatic reset, follow the below steps:

  1. Click on Automatic Reset option in the Resetter window. It will reset the system to its default settings and delete user accounts with their home directories. Click on Yes to continue.
  2. Then it will list all the packages that it will be going to remove. If you want to keep some packages, uncheck them. Then click on Ok to continue.
  3. It will start the reset process and creates a default user and will provide you with credentials. You will use these credentials to log in to your system next time.
  4. When finished, reboot your system.

So this was all about the installation and usage of Resetter in order to reset your Ubuntu OS to its factory default settings using the custom reset method. We have also discussed a little about the Automatic reset mode. You can easily use this method for reset however, it is not much recommended as it wipes out everything from the system.