[kwlug-disc] why would you do "apt-get dist-upgrade" regularly?

L.D. Paniak ldpaniak at fourpisolutions.com
Sat Aug 15 09:48:16 EDT 2009

Hash: SHA1

Robert P. J. Day wrote:

>   now let's say i do a "full-upgrade".  what happens?  as i understand
> it, even though my /etc/apt/sources.list explicitly refers to "lenny,"
> will that take me to "squeeze?"  and if it does, will that upgrade
> process update my /etc/apt/sources.list to reflect that new release?

>   and while i'm here, one more question that directly affects what i'm
> trying to do.  say i have my lenny system in front of me, and there is
> not only a squeeze (6.0) release, but a subsequent zaphod (7.0)
> release.  what would i do if i merely wanted to do a full upgrade to
> *squeeze*?  AFAICT, that's a reasonable thing to do since, if i have a
> really old debian system, i might want to do a full upgrade in stages,
> one release at a time, fix any breakage, watch it for a while, make
> sure everything still runs, then full upgrade to the next release,
> etc, etc.
>   how does one do that?  based on some tests i ran earlier this week,
> i *thought* that, to explicitly pick the target of a full upgrade, i
> needed to edit /etc/apt/sources.list and change all of the references
> to refer to the desired target release.  now i'm not so sure.

You've got the idea.  I've always played the game of editing
/etc/apt/sources.list by hand to source packages from "stable",
"testing" and "unstable".  If what I need is not in stable, go to
testing, etc.  When done, return sources.list to only source "stable" or
Lenny these days.  My typical Debian install announces itself on login
as stable/testing/unstable - a real mismash.  As far as I can tell,
dist-upgrade is equivalent to sourcing the new "stable", which will be
Squeeze in the next year or so.

I should explain further:  There are two ways to refer to Debian
releases:  Absolute and relative.  Absolute references are names you've
seen like Sarge, Etch, Lenny and Squeeze.  Relative are old-stable,
stable, testing and unstable.  Today, Etch=old-stable, Lenny=stable,
Squeeze=testing.  These will shift one notch to the left when Squeeze
becomes stable and a new name will come in on the right.  unstable is
always referred to as Sid. Think "Toy Story" for what all these names mean.

- From Sarge, I would incrementally upgrade to Etch and watch as you say,
then go to Lenny.  Once you get a stable Lenny, then you can try and do
things as I suggested.
You do not want to run a "Sid" system for anything remotely important.
Often I run "testing" systems  without much issue.  These are great
because the packages are kept up to date while stable systems only get
bug fixes.  You may want to ultimately end up with a Squeeze system.

Without X to deal with I expect that you should be able to get from
Sarge to Etch without too much hassle.  From there it should be smooth
sailing.  As Chris mentioned, you might want to try this in a VM first.
 Changes can be reverted - so long as you can boot...

Good luck!
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