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I made the mistake both times of forgetting to back up parts of my
system. If you reinstall, back up your homedir and
/etc. The homedir, because if you've configured your shell,
window manager, or any programs you've downloaded, your settings are
saved there; /etc, because the system files that you spent so
long getting right are saved there.
The first time, I just plain forgot; the second time, I purposely
didn't back up /etc, because the system files I'd screwed up
were in there, as well as the ones I wanted. Turns out I should have
taken the five minutes to weed through which were which, and to back
up only the good ones, as that would have saved me hours of headache
down the road.
Live and learn.