Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

19 Dec 2006

Upgrading Sarge To Etch

Upgrading a Debian system from one release to another is usually automatic and fairly painless. Over the past week I've done some simulated upgrades using qemu as suggested by Andree Leidenfrost. The simulations all worked, so this weekend I upgraded one of the Sarge desktop systems for real. This may not be the most perfect method, but it did work okay.

First off backup anything that is important and make sure you have a live disk to boot and rescue things if it doesn't go well...


Install GPG and some Debian keys if not yet installed.

$ sudo su -
# aptitude install gnupg
# gpg --keyserver --recv 4F368D5D
# gpg --keyserver --recv 2D230C5F
# gpg --keyserver --recv 6070D3A1
# gpg --keyserver --recv B5F5BBED
# gpg --keyserver --recv 1F41B907

Update sources.list

Backup your /etc/sources.list file, then update it to etch.

Install a Etch Kernel

This is the point of no return. The initial RAM disk technology used by Etch is different from Sarge, so you must delete the running kernel and install a replacement in one go. This is what your rescue disk may be required for.

# aptitude update
# aptitude install linux-image-2.6.

It will select a bunch of essential tools and the new kernel. It will also warn you about removing a running kernel. Type "Yes" and carry one...

dist-upgrade to Etch

Install the new version of aptitude, add your Debian keys, and then do the upgrade. On my desktop box it took about 30 minutes to download the files, and a further 20 minutes to install everything.

# aptitude install aptitude
# gpg --armor --export  | apt-key add -
# aptitude purge hotplug
# aptitude -f --with-recommends dist-upgrade

Expect that there may be a conflict or two, in my case kdessh and the new OpenSSH packages wouldn't go in. I removed the kde meta-packages, installed OpenSSH, then put back the kde-core package - I didn't want all of kde anyway.


If as I do, you use KDE you may have to fix your fonts, as they can come out looking rather ugly. It's a know problem I came across some time ago as I also run Etch on my desktop.

Etch Goodness...

The Debian System

Today I finished off the tweaks to a new Debian Sarge to Etch upgrade. It's been a mostly painless process. Soon Sarge will be only a pleasant memory.

Though Martin Krafft's book mostly overs the soon to be obsolete Sarge release of Debian, it's still a very worthwhile book, and I'll have to read it again to make sure I absorb all the good stuff in it this time.

Debian Etch: So Easy A Newbie Can Do It

There is a nice article over on Debian Etch: So Easy A Newbie Can Do It. I've long said that anyone can use Linux, it really is easy, but I do not believe that anyone can install, configure and maintain any operating system of any kind without some effort.

It's a nice article as it does show that while Debian once had a reputation for being hard-core, it really is much easier to install than it use to be. I still maintain that you will get a better system if you put some effort in, but now it does not need as much effort to get a sane starting point.