For almost a year now I’ve being spending most of my computer time on Debian. I began with Debian Stretch and switched to Debian Testing two months ago. This was another good opportunity to gain skills and I’d like to report about my transition in this post.
Last Easter, after a couple of months on Debian Stretch, I felt like the time had come for me to go Debian Testing. I was actually enjoying Debian Stretch and I was able to manage to get up-to-date versions of certain software when desired (detailed in my previous post) but after a couple of online readings I was convinced that being on Testing was a fairly reasonable step forward that would just make my live easier.
# main repo deb http://debian.mirror.rafal.ca/debian testing main contrib non-free deb-src http://debian.mirror.rafal.ca/debian testing main contrib non-free deb http://security.debian.org/debian-security testing/updates main contrib non-free deb-src http://security.debian.org/debian-security testing/updates main contrib non-free # testing-updates, previously known as 'volatile' deb http://debian.mirror.rafal.ca/debian/ testing-updates main contrib non-free deb-src http://debian.mirror.rafal.ca/debian/ testing-updates main contrib non-free
I then entered
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade in a
bash terminal and got:
Many, many upgrades! They were expected and I therefore proceeded and entered
Y which triggered the downloading of the required files:
A few messages popped up to warn me about major changes during the installation process, for instance for PostgreSQL:
and back-up manager:
This first 1524 upgrades took 29 minutes (not bad at all) and I thought it would be that easy! But after some time on Debian and given the subsequent changes I’ve made, migrating to Testing required further steps as I had a couple of packages kept back.
To install the rest of the packages, I cautiously installed them using
sudo apt-get install:
If I recall correctly, I proceeded as follows:
sudo apt-get install firstPackagekeptBack
I don’t think this is the best approach, as I could have either copy-pasted
the full package list to install them all at once or use the
dist-upgrade command instead. But it worked:
“Yeah!! all right, all done, all good!🔥” I naïvely thought at that stage.
What do you do when all is installed? Well, you reboot, right? And so I did! The logging page actually looked the same but once logged in there was a nightmarish blue screen (you know, the kind of screen Windows is famous for!) 😱! My GNOME desktop environment had disappeared 😱! Here began a few hours of confusion… I actually felt a bit lost, which is why I did not take any screenshot or note about what was happened in the aftermath but I recall more or less what I did to solve this mess (a mess that I was of course responsible for!).
First of all I learned very helpful shortcuts that allow the user to switch from
his desktop environment to the Command Line Interface (CLI):
ctrl + atl + f2
ctrl + atl + f3. Even though I was not able
to use GNOME I was able to see what was happening using the CLI.
I searched on the internet (I had another computer) for a solution
and there I learned how to check the status of the display managers.
For instance, for the Gnome Display Manager (gdm):
❯ systemctl status gdm
This is how I came to realize there was something wrong with GNOME (see https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/204387/debian-not-booting-into-gui). At that point, I decided to install another display manager (I do not understand why 😄). I chose lightdm. I was relieved that everything was working just fine (no more weird blue screen) but I really wanted my GNOME back and so I reinstalled it:
❯ sudo apt-get install --reinstall gnome3
The re-installation went well but it was still not working… until I removed lightdm, which I cannot explain… But in the end GNOME was back, the update was completed!
Given what I went through, I think it is worth spending some time reading about the different graphical desktops Debian offers. I recommend reading the section of the Debian Handbook on the topic, and this article for Ubuntu users that interestingly asserts:
In Ubuntu 16.04, make sure to choose lightdm as the display manager when prompted. Choosing gdm, sddm, or another, will break the installation.
By the way, note that
echo $DESKTOP_SESSION indicates the desktop
environment you are currently working with and if you are eager to change the
user display manager you have to reconfigure a display manager package, e.g.
dpkg-reconfigure gdm3 (in su mode).
As in my first post, I use inxi below:
❯ inxi -S
Previously, the command returned:
System: Host: debian Kernel: 4.9.0-5-amd64 x86_64 (64 bit) Desktop: Gnome 3.22.3 Distro: Debian GNU/Linux 9 (stretch)
Now I get:
System: Host: debian Kernel: 4.15.0-3-amd64 x86_64 bits: 64 Desktop: Gnome 3.28.0 Distro: Debian GNU/Linux buster/sid
Actually, there was a recent kernel update, so currently I am on:
System: Host: debian Kernel: 4.16.0-1-amd64 x86_64 bits: 64 Desktop: Gnome 3.28.1 Distro: Debian GNU/Linux buster/sid
I keep using the same theme that I used on my Debian Stretch setup but I further customized it:
Regarding 1 and 2, find below my setup on GNOME tweak:
Regarding 3, it took me few extra steps as I was not able to retrieve the cursor directly from GNOME-Look:
I cloned the repo
Once the repo cloned, I used the following command lines:
❯ cd path/to/the/cloned/repo ❯ mkdir /usr/share/icons/CaptaineCursors ❯ cp -r dist/* /usr/share/icons/CaptaineCursors/
Then I rebooted
I selected then new cursor in the list of cursors on GNOME tweak.
The image below show what my Desktop environment currently looks like (I use one of the default wallpaper)
I like it that way!
|Software||Command line||Stretch||Testing (April 2018)|
|LibreOffice||libreoffice –version||220.127.116.11 20m0(Build:2)||18.104.22.168.0 00m0(Build:1)|
|ImageMagick||convert –version||6.9.7-4 Q16 x86_64||6.9.9-34 Q16 x86_64|
|PostgreSQL||psql –version||9.6.7||10.3 (Debian 10.3-2)|
Well Debian Testing does not offer Firefox 60-X via aptitude yet and there are actually ongoing discussions about this on the Debian developer mailing list. While I am still using Firefox 52-X and am satisfied with it I wanted to install the last version. As suggested by the Debian wiki, I first installed the package manager snap:
❯ snap --version snap 2.32.5 snapd 2.32.5 series 16 debian kernel 4.15.0-3-amd64
and then installed Firefox via snap:
❯ snap install firefox
Being on Debian Testing means the backport I previously used was no longer required! So I dropped it! R 3.4.4 is the last R version available via aptitude and I am patiently waiting for 3.5.0. If you search about this, you’ll find active discussions about this migration.
I used to have Sage installed:
❯ sage -v SageMath version 7.4, Release Date: 2016-10-18
Unfortunately, recent versions are not available for Testing (see Debian wiki). Even though I subscribed to the stable repositories (sources):
❯ apt-cache policy sagemath sagemath: Installed: (none) Candidate: 7.4-9 Version table: 7.4-9 500 500 http://ftp.debian.org/debian stable/main amd64 Packages
I am not able to install Sage:
❯ sudo apt-get install sagemath Reading package lists... Done Building dependency tree Reading state information... Done Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable distribution that some required packages have not yet been created or been moved out of Incoming. The following information may help to resolve the situation: The following packages have unmet dependencies: sagemath : Depends: ecl (>= 15.3.7+dfsg1-2) but it is not going to be installed Depends: libflint-2.5.2 but it is not going to be installed Depends: libflint-arb1 but it is not going to be installed Depends: libgsl2 but it is not going to be installed Depends: liblinbox-1.4.2-0 but it is not going to be installed ... Recommends: texlive-latex-base but it is not going to be installed E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.
😢 Well I guess my option is to cherry pick Sage from Unstable… I’ll let you know if I do such move.
I had questions, I found answers, let me share:
What’s the difference between
apt-get? The Debian Handbook provides a clear answer.
What are the difference between Debian and Ubuntu? Here is some interesting material related to this.
How to change the length of a screencast? I’ve found this answer by Antoine Schellenberger:
❯ settings get org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.media-keys max-screencast-length 60
I like being on Testing and I guess I’ll stay on it for a while. The natural next step for me is to be able to efficiently cherry pick packages from Unstable. It sounds pretty straightforward according to the Debian Handbook by I’d like to read a bit more before any new transition! I’ll keep you blogposted!