Yesterday, everything was working well with my Ubuntu installation. I had to go and mess that up! I thought that I would go and remove packages that I no longer needed. After pruning the files from synaptic everything seemed ok till I restarted the computer. I couldn't boot into the desktop. I figure I removed something critical. I spent a couple of hours trying to recover.
Being a Linux desktop newbie and from the windows world I thought the best course of action was a reformat and reinstall. Thankfully I had the foresight to partition my /home directory as a separate entity. That made things easier. Again, I was quite impressed that it didn't take very long to get up and running again. It was a little tricky getting my /home partition mounted in /etc/fstab since it was formated as ext4.
I added this line to the /etc/fstab:
UUID=9db5cf49-3d65-4cfb-9fa4-3156bc6dabb4 /home ext4 noatime,barrier=0,data=writeback,nobh,commit=100,nouser_xattr 0 1
In addition (I didn't do this because I didn't know) you can have synaptic create a shell script that will automatically download all of the packages that are currently installed in the system. A very nice way to get yourself up and running again in case of a disaster. Or you could update a different machine.