Sunday, April 15, 2007

Upgrading from "etch" to "lenny"

[25 Feb. 2009] UPDATE: this is an old post about upgrading Debian/testing. If you're considering uprading Debian/stable, please read the official upgrade instructions.

Well, Debian "etch" is now officially Stable. Turning stable meant one thing: a major upgrade.

I like the fact that the software I use gets routinely updated. Going stable means that "etch" only gets security updates from now on. So, on to "lenny" - previously Unstable and now officially Testing.

The only thing required to perform the transformation is edit /etc/apt/sources.list and make sure that any reference to etch is replaced with testing. After that it's just a matter of pressing Ctrl-Alt-F1, logging in as root, and running

apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade

and then reboot.

Sounds easy enough ...

Well, not quite. But it wasn't too painful either. I encountered three issues:
  1. the djvulibre-plugin had a broken dependency - running
    apt-get -f dist-upgrade
    (as instructed by apt-get itself) resolved this issue,
  2. bacula was updated from version 1.38 to 2.0 - I intend to share my experiences regarding this issue in an upcoming post.
  3. gallery2 was updated from version 2.1 to 2.2 - I had to visit all three gallery sites that I maintain and let the upgrade wizard step me through the upgrade process.
Needless to say (but I'll do it anyway) I made sure that a valid backup was ready, just in case, before I started this.

The whole process (not counting bacula maintenance) took about an hour.
And now back to work...

[04 Nov. 2008] UPDATE: I've recently spotted the Lenny upgrade-advisor. It's a modular tool that's meant to perform some sanity checks on your system before upgrading (README). I haven't tried it myself - I'm just passing the word...


  1. Update: a crucial step was missing - always run
    apt-get update
    after modifying the sources list.

    Spotted it on the Debian User Forum,


  2. I am about to cry. Here's my short story (actually its long) I've been trying to upgrade etch to lenny for 2 days. Somehow it keeps on (or maybe *I* keep on) breaking it. I always end up with a unbootable system, hoohoohoo. Even if its a fresh install it happens...

  3. My sympathy.

    I suggest you take this up with one (or more) of the user forums and mailing lists. Someone may have already hit the same problem(s), or can at least help you troubleshoot.

    I find that a Knoppix or Ubuntu live CD is usually helpful in situations like this.