Bog Roll :: unix/debian

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

15 Apr 2022

Upgrade cycle

Last May I started the process of upgrading all my Debian systems from version 10 to 11. I completed all the desktop and laptop systems pretty quickly and by the summer only my home server and cloud server remained on the older version.

In the autumn we moved into my mother-in-law's while the major work on the house was done and it wasn't habitable. As a result the upgrade to the server was delayed as we were somewhat at sixes and sevens, and a server upgrade wasn't the best thing to do.

The house rebuild isn't complete, but it's getting closers and I really should look at upgrading my servers from Debian 10 to 11. It's mostly that there are a few changes that this upgrade introduces and I don't want to rock the boat too much if I need to make changes to accommodate the upgrade.

26 Aug 2021

Debian GNU/Linux 11.0 "Bullseye"

I've now upgraded or installed Debian Bullseye on all my non-server systems. The upgrade this cycle was one of the easiest of all, and overall I'd say the change was the most evolutionary rather than revolutionary to date, in my experience since I started with Woody.

Most things seem to work in the same way as before, only things are a little newer and a little better, a few bugs have been fixed and a few new features have arrived. There are a few visual improvements, but it's very much more of the same - which is a good thing, I think.

I'll upgrade my servers last, even though they actually have way fewer packages on them (not having a GUI or any desktop allocations) there have been major changes to Exim, so I don't want to break my email system...

25 Jun 2021

More Debian GNU/Linux 11.0 "Bullseye"

Though still not officially stable I've upgraded a further spare laptop, a lightly used desktop and a virtual system from Debian 10.10 to 11.0. In all cases there was even less than usual that needed any manual attention. In most cases I reset to standard where I could and then checked afterwards if I wanted to put back any customisation. I've also built one new system directly on Bullseye, and that's a pretty neat system too, given it's age and low spec.

Superficially everything is a bit newer and a bit more polished, and the like most recent upgrades it's evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Compared to the 9 to 10 step, so far there was even less to worry about, and things have just got a more polished. While the KDE 4 to 5 transition was a big technical change, as was the move to systemd, I feel the last noticeable change was versions 7 to 8. A decade ago the move from 5 to 6 was very noticeable as KDE jumped from 3 to 4, which was a more noticeable change than the later KDE 4 to 5 transition.

The biggest step change I remember was 3 "Woody" to 3.1 "Sarge". Sarge had been in gestation for quite a while, and though it was only numbered 3.1 it was one of the biggest jumps, which saw a whole range of changes and also gave Debian a reputation for slow release cycles, which is unfair as post 3.1, most versions have actually come out with an even cadence of about 2 years per release...!

Dull upgrades are always good, but other than a few changed splash screens and some new graphics it mostly feels the same, just a bit better, which is good.

20 May 2021

Debian GNU/Linux 11.0 "Bullseye"

Yesterday I test upgraded an old/spare laptop from Debian 10 to Debian 11. The upgrade process has changed for this release cycle, it now uses apt instead of apt-get, but seemed to go well other than a few minor cases when I needed to press Y for it to continue.

I'll probably put some new systems I'm building directly onto Bullseye, but I won't upgrade the rest of my systems until the formal release rolls round later this year. It looks pretty good already, and I've noticed fewer changes on a virtual system that has been shadowing Bullseye for a while.

28 Nov 2019

Debian GNU/Linux 10.0 "Buster"

Debian released Debian 10.0 earlier this year. For a while I didn't bother upgrading, I was busy at work and I didn't really have the time to upgrade my growing network of systems.

Eventually I bit the bullet and started on my second oldest laptop, that I don't use much as it's a bit slow and the scratch pad doesn't work for no obvious reason (hardware fault of some kind), Other than Amarok being missing, the upgrade was painless. I then upgraded a few more systems, including my mother-in-laws laptop which had previously been running Windows 7.

All my systems are now running Debian 10 and other than a few minor glitches, it all went rather well. Overall a very dull upgrade, in that there is nothing radically different, and most things are just a little better and work in mostly the same way that I was used to. I know that there a have been some architectural changes, but at the user level it's just better - which is a good thing.

03 Jul 2017

Debian 9.0 "Stretch"

Debian have recently released the new version, 9.0 "Stretch". As ever there are thousands up upgrades and changes, but the big physical change is the upgrade from KDE 4.x to version 5.x, which is quite a radical change. So far I've done two virtual systems, two laptops and one small system. Overall I've been quite pleased with the upgrade, so far no nasty surprises or shocks. I've now just got two main desktop systems, one old laptop and my home server to do and everything will be done.

19 Dec 2015

Debian 8.0 "Jessie"

Most of my systems, desktops and virtual machines have been running Debian 8.x since shortly after it was released, only my home server lingered on on version 7.0. Earlier this month I took the plunge and completed the ext3 to ext4 upgrade that I never completed on the root filesystem and then upgraded the box from 7.x to 8.x.

There were a few surprises. I knew that Apache 2.4 has different configuration, so was expecting that and didn't have any problems. I had forgotten that the DNLA media server I use was removed from Jessie and there were a few other small related changes.

I eventually figured out that rsnapshot has changed it's flags slightly, so I needed to make some SSH changes to compensate and the best way to get Mediatomb running turned out to be running it in a Debian 7.x chroot...

All my systems are now fully upgraded and all is well.

26 Apr 2014


Today I completed the last migration of a Debian GNU/Linux system from version 6.x (aka Squeeze) to version 7.x (aka Wheezy). One system was this server, which I migrated to a new hosting platform, today's migration was an Viglen MPC box that someone was using when the upgrade was initially due.

The upgrade was painless (as usual) and everything on the new box is working perfectly as expected.

11 Jun 2013

Debian 7.0 ("Wheezy")

After a lot of work the Debian community has released Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 into stable. I run Testing on my desktop so it wasn't any change on that machine but on my others I therefore had to upgrade them, if I wanted them to stay on the stable/released version.

I first upgraded a couple of virtual machines and that was pretty painless. They had very little on them as they run as headless servers. I even changed the way they run within the virtual machine which should reduce their memory foot print and CPU load on the hosts system.

Next up was my better half's desktop system. Though it had a lot more installed on that the VMs it also went in fine without a problem. After that was a laptop. There were a number of issues with the laptop but they were not actually a problem with the upgrade, rather a problem hanging over from the original installation some years ago. Once the permissions were sorted out, everything started to work properly and all was well again.

The penultimate machine at home is my home server. It had a lot more server packages than the desktops on it but a lot less in the way of desktop apps to worry about. Upgrade time was very quick (I have a local APT cache) but there were issues - some of which are still over hanging. Dovecot didn't upgrade properly and required some tweaking to get it going again, though I never figured out why it didn't work... Exim also needed manual tweaking to reset it. The overhanging problem I have now is that KVM is happy to let my guest machines consume 100% of a CPU core on the host long enough so that it gets hot enough to complain... The fan on the system does kick in, but it can't cool a CPU running at 100% on a core for more than 30 minutes, so the BIOS shuts the box down.

So far I've tweaked the way KVM starts and I've set some processes onto a nicer setting but that won't help when the host isn't under much load and the KVM guest requests 100% of a host CPU. My next option is to use cgroups to restrict KVM to no more than 75% of one CPU core on the host.

13 Dec 2011

Debian 6.0.3 "Squeeze"

After a very long delay I have upgraded this server from Debian Lenny to Squeeze. It has taken about an hour and has gone pretty well, just a few hand edits required. The key services of email and web are still working properly and I've not locked myself out or anything silly yet!

On a server you don't get lots of new toys to play with in the way you do on a desktop system, and it's more important that it works than it's shiny, so the only reason I've done the upgrade now is so that it's before Lenny comes to the end of security upgrades - which is important.

14 Aug 2011

Linux 3

Last week I installed the Linux 3.0.0 kernel image on my Debian Wheezy/Testing system. After a reboot, it started normally and X came up with out a problem. The following day when I booted it started okay but went into a kernel-panic when X started. I rebooted in safe/single user mode and it was okay when I manually started X, but it goes into kernel-panic whenever X starts from boot.

I've tried booting several times and with both the radeon or the fglrx graphics driver and it makes no difference, kernel panic on automatic start of X. The older 2.6.39 kernel is perfectly okay, though the fglrx graphics driver from AMD/ATI makes the PC unusually slow at the moment, so I currently use the open source radeon driver.

24 Mar 2011

Upgrading to Squeeze

I have started the process of upgrading all my boxes from Debian 5 "Lenny" to Debian 6 "Squeeze". I started about a week before the actual release of Squeeze by upgrading VM images first, they were the simplest to upgrade and the easiest to roll-back in the event of a problem. There were zero problems on these simple systems.

Next I upgraded my home server - on which the VMs live. This system has more on it and there were some manual tweaks required because of changes to configuration files and such, but overall it went it without a problem.

Finally I upgraded my partner's desktop system. This was the most complex system to-date, having the most installed on it and it was the oldest system, having started life running Sarge. There were several problem with the upgrade - mostly because of manual changes that have been applied in the past, and even after the upgrade there was still quite a lot of antiquated programs left behind that needed manual removal.

All that is left to upgrade now are the remote systems, such as this system which I'll do shortly. Overall a fairly painful process - many thanks to the Debian team.

06 Feb 2011

Growing KVM Virtual Filesystem #2

This weekend I completed my expansion of the filesystem for work's development and production KVM systems. In the end I did the expansion on the server not my own systems, but I did use the technique I developed used last week on my own server. In the end even though my domestic ADSL connection is faster than works AT&T network, neither are fast enough to move about multi-gigabyte files.

Work now has nice shiny expanded servers ready for work. The next challenge will be to upgrade them to Debian 6.0 from the 5.0.8 that they are currently running. As Debian 6.0 "Squeeze" has only just been released I won't be doing it in a rush. I've got two systems at home, two systems with family, and three systems at work to upgrade before I tackle the hosted systems I look after.

29 Jan 2011

Making a Virtual Machine's Filesystem Larger

We have a remote server at work that is running virtual machines for various web purposes. Alas when originally created the file system of the virtual machines was smaller than we needed. The physical host system has plenty of space, we just have to grow the virtual file systems.

In principle I could have grown the file systems on the server but that would have loaded the server during the working day when the customers use it, plus our corporate network is too slow to do anything significant over the public Internet.

My original plan was top stop the virtual machines for a few seconds, copy the virtual file system, restart the virtual machine then transfer the copy to a machine at work. Once I have it on a fast system with plenty of disk-space I'd then cat some zeros on to the end of the container, boot it up with a live disk and extend the filesystem over the empty space. I'd reboot it with it's own Kernel to make sure it's all okay and happy, then copy the enlarged file back up to the remote server.

I however hit some problems... Though we have a fancy network at work, in practice it's slower than the ADSL network I have at home and not only is it slow but it often hits capacity problems, dropping connections. "Plan B" was to use a test ADSL link to pull the files down, but that still left a slight outage during the working day. Even if I could get the filesystems down to a work machine, our desktop systems all run Windows and have tiny hard drives - which isn't much help. I managed to find an older desktop system and borrow a 1 TB external drive, but in the end I decided it would be easier to do at home on my home systems.

Yesterday I pulled down a development and staging virtual system as Qemu/KVM qcow2 files. On my home server I converted them to raw image files and made them larger. Using a Debian GNU/Linux live image I booted them up, expanded the ext3 filesystem and shut them down. I rebooted them with their own KVM Kernel to test that they were okay, then converted the raw image back into a qcow2 and at the moment I'm scping them back to the server.

It's sad that I couldn't really do this at work, but at least I learnt some new stuff and I know my home infrastructure is better than works. I also found out that as expected a 2 GiB file as qcow2 expands to a 4 GiB raw imaged, which I expanded to 20 GiB, compresses back to a 2 GiB qcow2 - very cool!

24 Jan 2011

Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 "Squeeze"

Very shortly Debian 6.0 will be released, this is good as it's got good stuff in it that will be a nice step up from the current version which is starting to show it's age.

Some new things have arrived such as Google Chromium-Browser and KDE4, and some things have gone such as KDE3 and Splashy. I run testing on my desktop so won't see a radical change when the new version comes out but I'll have to upgrade the various stable systems I run once I'm happy it can all be done without any pain - which is usually the case.

KDE4 is really good now I've got use to it and it's big step up from KDE3 which while good was getting long in the tooth. Most KDE3 software is now available upgraded to KDE4 but there are some notable exceptions, for example Quanta+.

Splashy has been replaced by Plymouth, except that Plymouth doesn't work on my system. Having said that Splashy has been buggy so it's not a major change really.