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preparing for ubuntu -> LMDE transition

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:00 pm
by TomRoche
summary: I have some experience with ubuntu and some other distros, none with mint or debian (except via ubuntu). I want to migrate a laptop ubuntu -> LMDE, and have 4 questions about how best to do that.


I'm currently running Ubuntu Lucid on a laptop, and am mostly happy. The main things that bug me are

* reinstall @ version change. (Consensus seems to be, reinstall works better than upgrade.)
* additional twiddling required to use non-free media.

Hence I'm considering moving from Ubuntu to LMDE: I'm told that LM handles the media problems, and DE == "rolling releases" (which seems like a misnomer to me--wouldn't "release freedom" be more accurate?--but I digress). However I want to prepare before I make that transition. One thing I've done is backup:

* image my laptop's HD using Clonezilla, so that I can abort as desired.
* backup my $HOME (mostly with `rsync`, some also with `duplicity`)

But I also want to easily/quickly acquire the same software (most but not all of which is packaged), to minimize downtime. Hence I'm wondering:

1 (background) how does package management (e.g. install, update) in LMDE compare to package management in Ubuntu? E.g., I've heard mint requires the use of its own package-management tools. Is this correct? If so, does that also apply to LMDE, or just to the ubuntu-based mints? Particularly, I'd like to know about `aptitude`, which CLI I typically use for package management.

2 How best to transfer the packages I'm currently using in ubuntu to LMDE? (Where "best" == with most automation, most quickly, with least opportunity for error.) Ideally I could use some tool (e.g. `aptitude`) to record the (ubuntu) packages I'm currently using (e.g. chromium, emacs, firefox) in ubuntu, write that to a script, and run that on LMDE. But I don't know how to do that, particularly how to handle the differences between ubuntu (input) and debian (output).

3 How best (as defined above) to transfer non-packaged software (e.g. Intel FORTRAN) from ubuntu to LMDE?

4 Are there any other things I should do to ease the ubuntu -> LMDE transition?

Re: preparing for ubuntu -> LMDE transition

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:05 pm
by msuggs
My advice would be to start afresh and rebuild the system from new to avoid problems. I know it's not what you want but it's a one off process and worth the effort imo. As for the Mint packages the default setup is pretty much identical to the main Ubuntu based version. Package management is the same in both versions.

Re: preparing for ubuntu -> LMDE transition

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:41 pm
by AK Dave
1. package management is the same. Ubuntu is based on Debian, so the same aptitute and apt-get commands work. Mint adds its own Mint Update and other package management tools to the mix which are user friendly, but if you're comfortable with the command line you'll transition very easily.

2. you can do all of this through aptitude, but honestly my recommendation is to do this through sticky-pad or maybe a simple text file. Make a note of the actual packages you really use in your current install. Then apt-get them after you install LMDE:

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sudo apt-get install blah1 blah2 blah3 blah4 blah5 blah5 blah^n
3. Non-packaged software, probably best to reinstall it from .deb

4. Take note of your current hardware and current kernel modules, particularly for fiddly bits of hardware like wifi, and especially anything listed by Ubuntu as "restricted". If you know, for example, that your wifi adapter requires "restricted drivers" in Ubuntu, odds are you'll have to jump through an extra hoop to compile this yourself for Debian/LMDE.

Re: preparing for ubuntu -> LMDE transition

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:47 pm
by sgosnell
To reinstall all your packages, run

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dpkg --get-selections > ~/my-packages
You can change ~/my-packages to another filename if you like, and put it somewhere other than your /home if you like. Save it, you will need it later. This makes a listing of every package you have installed.

Personally, I put /home on a separate partition so I don't have to worry about my settings and configurations, but that's a personal decision.

After you install LMDE, restore your /home and in a terminal run

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sudo dpkg --set-selections < my-packages && sudo apt-get dselect-upgrade
This will have dpkg read the file you made earlier, and install all of them. You will get a fresh install of everything, but your settings should be retained in your /home.

I did this, and it only took a few minutes over a broadband connection. The entire reinstall took less than an hour, from start to finish, much of it being used downloading the packages. After you get the packages installed, run

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sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
This will update all your packages, although the ones you just installed shouldn't need it. Don't forget to enable any third-party repositories you want first.

This won't update/install packages that aren't in the repositories, and you'll have to manually install them. For the apps that don't have .deb files, you have to compile them from source, and the command line is the most efficient way to do that.

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in the folder you extracted the files to should work for those.

Be aware that restoring your /home unchanged will have some side effects. Your desktop will look like it did in Ubuntu for the most part. Your panels and menus will be the same, although you'll have the Mint menu at the bottom in addition to those. Some may not like that, but I like it, since I'm used to the Ubuntu style desktop. I find I rarely use the Mint menu, but that's another personal preference.

Re: preparing for ubuntu -> LMDE transition

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:18 pm
by joutlan
I would back up my /home, and install fresh from an LMDE disk...much cleaner, and doesn't take that long....then, you can keep 'rolling' along..

Re: preparing for ubuntu -> LMDE transition

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:49 pm
by skompier
I have a separate /HOME partition and switched from Ubuntu to LMDE. All I did was install LMDE64 to my previous Ubuntu / partition which left my /HOME partition untouched. Then I went back and reinstalled what programs I needed. It took all of 15 min. The 230+ updates took most of the time, but that was a one time thing.

Re: preparing for ubuntu -> LMDE transition

Posted: Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:33 am
by DoctorBho
I am just doing this now (waiting for 2GB of updates/packages to load) and I thought I would pass on a problem I ran into (with solution!).

I now systematically keep /home on a different partition, and that did not pose a problem when I put LMDE on my netbook - but my main beast has three hard disks. The OS on one and /home on another. The LMDE installer does not recognise that and I could not find a way to overcome its stubborness.

In the end, before leaving the live USB edition, but after installing, I rebuilt my /etc/fstab manually and deleted all the files in the /home LMDE had created.

Moral of the story: if your installation is a little bit complicated, make a copy of fstab so you can just copy it back again before rebooting!