Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Debian Linux - Upgrading from Stable Stretch to Testing Buster

There is a meme that explains why I use Debian Linux.

The Answer Is Always Choose Debian.

Why?  It Just Works.  First time, every time, all the time.  More stable that ever came out from anything I have ever encountered and I have tried them all.

Mind you, I am using Debian Stable which justifiably has the reputation of being a bit behind the times.  All that stability comes from the Debian team testing the daylights out of the software.

At this time, March 2019, Debian is preparing to turn its current testing version into the stable version.  Buster will become Stable some time after summer starts.

Or Fall.  Whenever Debian is ready.  It's ready when they say it is.

I've done this before, over the weekend, and a second time for practice.  The result worked, but my video editor is now the version 5 which enforces this Dark Theme that works great on a phone or tablet to save battery but is garbage on the desktop under XFCE 4.  

The buttons have pearl grey text on a light grey button face.  Whoever made that decision needs to use the software and realize it just isn't good.

The solution with that was to go to Edit/Preferences/View tab.
To get this back to the old look and feel, Change:
Buttons Style to Simple
Theme Request to Light Theme
Theme Detection to Ubuntu

I messed around with it, did a render and the render was of poor quality and glitchy.

That convinced me that it will work - later on after Debian fixes it for them and for me.

If that is the only complaint I have over a complete upgrade to a testing version of the OS, plus all the added software/apps/programs... I'll deal!

I have an afternoon so I am doing it today while listening to a Mexican radio station on the internet with my foot up on the couch.

Standard Internet Warranty Applies:  While I, Ramblingmoose, have made every step and precaution to make certain that these instructions are complete, they are presented for you to follow at your own risk.  I make no warranty expressed or implied, to guarantee your own success.  This worked for me, twice, this week.  Your success may vary.

Make sure you have adequate backups, read the instructions, and all your equipment is in working order.

While I do not guarantee your success, I will be following this instruction set and I fully expect this all to be successful...

For Me. 

To begin.
  • Clone the hard drive.  Not just back it up but clone it.  If your backup drive is on /dev/sdb and your source drive is /def/sda then "dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb conv=noerror,sync status=progress"
  • Mount the clone in a suitable computer as the boot drive.
  • Boot the computer.  
  • If you end up in the recovery with a "initramfs" prompt, as root, "fsck -y /dev/sda1" and reboot to get to your expected desktop.

Now, the computer you are working from now has the backed up/cloned hard drive as your boot drive and have full control.  You are at the desktop.

Start terminal and "sudo su" to log in as root.  If you break anything, you are on your cloned drive and can start over.

Save your old /etc/apt tree to a new /etc/apt.old tree:
  • remove any "apt.old" tree that is there (be careful with this command) "rm -rf /etc/apt.old"
  • Copy the existing apt tree to a new apt.old tree for backup: "cp -r /etc/apt /etc/apt.old"
Prepare the apt tree by commenting out any backports from prior versions and upgrade your sources.list to Buster.
  • Using your favorite editor, edit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/stretch-backports.list to comment out all lines or simply remove the file.
  • Edit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/base.list and change "stretch" to "buster"
  • Edit /etc/apt/sources.list and change "stable" or "stretch" to "buster"

This will allow you to jump to Buster while it is still Testing but make sure it will stay on Buster when the next Testing is created.

Hold your breath!  We're goin' in!

Now issue the commands to upgrade your computer to Buster:

appstreamcli refresh --force   (to force clear out the appstream system cache)  
apt update    (reports 2485 packages can be upgraded)

apt upgrade  

NOTE: It will be necessary to watch this process if you have a mature system.  
It asked to restart xscreensaver and xlockmore twice. OK
It asked to "Restart services during package upgrades without asking?"  Yes
It failed on a restart for xrdp which is no problem, I will reboot after the process is done. OK
It asked to restart xscreensaver and xlockmore again.  OK
Mine required intervention on the upgrade of multiple packages due to my making changes in the conf files.  
Verify by selecting "N" keep current version or "D" to compare versions 
Specifically crontab, tumbler.rc, smb.conf, sysctl.conf, /etc/default/ufw, xrdp.ini
GRUB wanted to be reinstalled to my boot device.  I selected /dev/sda and /dev/sda1


At this point, the upgrade has completed.

There will be more software to upgrade, it asked me to upgrade another 7xx programs when it checked.

Final Clean Up

Three last steps. 
First, the system itself asked to be updated again via the graphical software installer.  This is equivalent to running "apt update"  and "apt upgrade" once again.

Then a distribution upgrade to bring the software yet again up to date and synchronize all the software levels.  Seemed redundant since the command when issued had no effect.  However, "apt dist-upgrade" will complete the task

And Finally Finally!

To remove all redundant, unused packages as well as to clear things up for next time "apt autoremove"

At this point, you're done, reboot, and use your computer as normal.

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