For some reason i was getting 'dead.letter' mail advising the possibility of intruders ... and since i do not have the expertise to follow through with investigating the situation i just 'bit the bullet' and rebuilt the system.
What makes it easy and quick for me now [it has not always been this way] is that i have a 'master log', or time line, of what i do each time. So it now is just a matter of reinstalling the 'live CD', and working my way through the historical time-line to reinstall and configure the software i use.
So it is NO 'biggie' now days.
One thing that makes it all straight forward is that i DO NOT store any dynamic data on my localhost ... unless it is 'throw away' stuff. All serious data is stored on another pc [WIN XP] and is backed up automatically from there to an external Maxtor 640gig HD.
So because data is never an issue, i can reformat my localhost at the blink of an eye knowing i am only dealing with system stuff.
Remember i am NOT proficient with shell commands ... so all this is done via gui.
HOWEVER, i can do it even faster, as after i rebuild from scratch i then use a piece of software named CLONEZILLA, which i had previously downloaded the ISO and burned it to CD. This is a bare basic program that allows you to take a 'snapshot' of a partition and save it to disk. THEN, when i want to 'rebuild' localhost it is simply a matter of re-storing that partition image via CLONEZILLA .... takes no more that 10mins.
I find this and EXTREMELY useful method of restoring sensibility to my system should it go haywire .... it allows me to test untried software without worrying if it will 'mess up' my system ... because if it does i simply restore the master image via CLONEZILLA ... and bingo ... am back to known territory again.
If the piece of software i 'try out' does the trick and i like it, i simply add it to the 'time line' or 'master install log' i keep, and when things get to a point where synaptic is doing an upgrade, i simply restore the last CLONEZILLA image, work my way through the 'time line', upgrade through Synaptic, and make a NEW 'master image' of the partition, to fall back to should i need it.
For the first time i actually feel in 'control' with Linux ... and NO WAY could i be considered as a GURU, NERD or even on that pathway!!
So im *smiling*