I did make a similar suggestion for Celena but it was on the day the first Beta was released and hence too late I think... I hope I am not too late again. This is what I have in mind.
Mint recommends that we do a fresh install with every new version of Mint and have / and /home on separate partitions. However, his causes us to lose the extra packages which we installed while we were using the previous version.
My suggestion is to introduce a new tool (mintRestore, for example)which would keep a list of installed packages in a hidden folder in the /home partition... ./mintRestore for example. This is easily done by dpkg --get-selections > installedPackages
. This can be run periodically as a cron job or handled by a daemon or even run automatically at shutdown. Then after installing the latest and greatest version of Mint we can simply run mintRestore which will search for /home/.mintRestore/installedPackages and reinstall the packages we had before the upgrade! This would be a simple dpkg --set-selections < installedPackages && dselect
Of course, we can do this by hand but it would be nice this way
Also it could be run with the first run wizard we currently have.
We can expand this idea to include certain configuration files... eg. xserver, network, samba, fstab and other configurations. I, personally, have a few settings that just make my life easier (touchpad and mounting at boot of samba shares through fstab) that I have to redo after each fresh install... if these files could be automatically backed up to the /home/.mintRestore folder, that would save some trouble. Again, we could be prompted to restore these settings in the first run wizard.
To further expand on this idea, we can have mintRestore save the files with the date incorporated in the name eg. xorg.conf-23-10-07. This will provide a way to restore configuration files to a point in time of our choice... effectively providing a settings restore/undo function which we currently do not have in any distro, AFAIK.
What do you guys and gals think about this?