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I'm trying to migrate from Ubuntu jaunty to Debian sid in order to avoid changing the port every 6 months on Ubuntu. I'm planning to replace the ubuntu respo by the Debian one in /etc/apt/source.list and do an apt-get upgrade (or probably dist-upgrade?). But I'm not sure this will actually work. Does anybody has such experience? I've googled, but it seems that most ppl talk about how to do the reverse...

btw, I've seen this question which prefers a fresh install from cd. Is that the only way works?

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doesn't seem like a good idea – emgee Oct 19 '09 at 2:28
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I tend to agree with the answer to your linked question. It's not that it's the only way that works; it's that it's the only way that guarantees a clean installation. If you attempt an apt-get dist-upgrade you might end up with inconsistencies in your system, where some of the old Ubuntu packages are left over and conflicting with the newer Debian packages.

I ended up following these Debian Bootstrap instructions when I did an Ubuntu -> Debian migration a couple of weeks ago on a home server. The process allows you to install Debian from a running Linux system, which worked for me because a) I was installing Debian to a separate hard drive, b) I wanted to perform most of the installation steps via SSH, and c) I'm crazy enough to try it. I'm still tweaking the result, and wrestling Grub into shape post-install has been a mess (especially since I have to move the keyboard over from the workstation anytime a boot goes wrong).

Bootstrapping is something of an intricate process, and if you're not experienced with Linux it's not something I'd recommend. But it's a good learning process if you're up for it.

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It's a bad idea in general. You do realize that Debian Sid is "unstable" by definition? Instead of a port every six months, you'd have huge changes every time a major package or set of packages is updated. Is that really better? At least with Ubuntu they package all the huge changes together.

It's also a bad idea to "upgrade" at all. If you want to use Debian (I recommend their "stable" for a person with your concerns) just wipe the disk (after backing up!) and install Debian. Or do what I did in the opposite direction: resize the Ubuntu partition and install Debian side-by-side with it until you're comfortable.

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good point about Sid. you might mention Squeeze for a cutting-edge solution that's less likely to result in accidental amputation. – quack quixote Oct 19 '09 at 4:22
well, I have been using debain unstable for 5+ years which I feel quite confortable. I do run into problems with some of the upgrades, but manage to get out of it without much hurt. This installation is actually for my friend's ubuntu box. – CyberSnoopy Oct 19 '09 at 6:47
if your friend's not of similar linux aptitude, give 'em squeeze for a more comfortable ride. you just know if you give 'em Sid and something breaks, you'll be getting the tech support call. – quack quixote Oct 19 '09 at 10:13
CyberSnoopy, you have to include all that relevant information in your question! If I knew you were a Debian expert I wouldn't have lectured you about it. – CarlF Oct 19 '09 at 14:41
@CarlF: Sorry, my bad. I was trying to point out the problem without much background details. – CyberSnoopy Oct 19 '09 at 18:48

I tried 'Live Migration' switch From Ubuntu LTS to Debian 7 back when Debian 7 first came out. (I backed up my partitions first) The switch didn't go so well. The furthest I got after like a few attempts (by the way this was just for fun) was for it to boot into (mostly) Debian and give me a tty. Even though this switch failed, it might be possible for those that know a lot about the Linux packages on both distros, and a switch was made to a distro with newer packages. A lot of websites say you can't switch this way, and I don't think most people would want to do this, and it doesn't sound like you are familiar enough. (I think most aren't)

[back up partitions first!!!] It's a lot easier to set up a partition for 'home', and then format the old 'non-home' Linux partition(s) and start installing the new distro in this space.

Debian has a 'stable' version(currently called 'Wheezy/7.6' as of this post), and Ubuntu has 'LTS' version(currently called 'Trusty Tahr/14.04.1' as of this post), which is good for like 2 years. Perhaps you should try one of those. Instead of Debian 'sid' (which is also called "unstable"), or Ubuntu's 6 month non-LTS version.

[ops... didn't realize this thread was old when I posted this]

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