Re: migration to wheezy and disaster recovery
On Sat, 13 Apr 2013 13:19:18 -0600
Paul Condon <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Last week I decided to dist-upgrade from Squeeze to Wheezy, thinking
> I would get in ahead of the rush of stragglers. I found a nice
> document with lots of step-by-step instruction, and particularly how
> to create a log file of the steps that I actually performed. I
> thought I was following it but I will never know because something
> went wrong and my failed attempts at recovery have lost the log file.
> Nothing was working. I found a 'business card' CD for Squeeze 6.0.5,
> that installed Squeeze 6.0.7, which is to be expected. But all sorts
> of features haven't been configured to my habits. I am just now able
> to email this list, but via gmail, and I am quite new at using gmail.
> I think I know how to reply-to-list, but I really need help and
> apologize in advance for violations of Debian etiquette. In
> particular, this is being composed in Icedove, and I don't know how
> to limit the line length. Please, someone, tell me.
> I had been running Gnome/Squeeze before the disaster. At one point I
> caught a glimpse of the new Gnome3 that comes with Wheezy. I don't
> want to install it and then figure out how to remove it. I think I
> won't be finnished with my recovery until I get Xfce installed in its
> place in Wheezy, and to do that is to install Xfce in Squeeze and
> then do a dist-upgrade to get to Wheezy. But ... I don't know how and
> can't find instructions. When I search with Google I find lots of
> hits to pages that say it can be done and most also say it is easy,
> but *how* ? What CDs do I need? What packages do I install under
> Squeeze? I am at a loss. To me, it is important that I keep my
> computer bootable at every step of the way. It is my only link for
> getting useful help. Suggestions for alternative plans are welcome,
> but please don't suggest switching to a different distribution that
> is more forgiving of user error. I don't believe there is one, do you?
> My first firm question(s): What packages should I install from a
> Debian repository to get a working installation of Xfce that come up
> when the computer boots? What substeps are there to making this
> happen? A url that I can read?
As far as I recall, if you already have X working, just the xfce4
metapackage should do the job. If you have a working graphical login
already, you should be able to reboot then select an xfce session before
logging in. If it doesn't work, you will be returned to the login and
can try a different kind of session, then track down the error log to
see what went wrong.
To have a go at the larger question: while you have a working
installation, get hold of Knoppix and burn it to a disc. There are many
live distributions, but Knoppix is probably still the best for hardware
driving. You don't want to mess about with trying to add drivers to a
live distribution. The Knoppix DVD obviously contains more software
than the CD, but the CD should be enough to deal with most problems.
I'm assuming you don't currently have a live CD as you are emphasising
the need to maintain a working machine. If you can borrow any live CD,
or get one on a magazine cover, omit this step, but if you have to
download one, make it Knoppix.
Check that it does indeed boot up. Now you have a guaranteed working
Internet machine, whatever mess you make of the hard drive, and also a
reference hardware driver set if Wheezy gives you any trouble. You
probably won't need it, but now you have a bit more confidence and will
be willing to kick the machine a bit harder when it defies you, as it
will. Now to work...
You haven't made it completely clear where you are now: it appears you
have a Squeeze with a graphical desktop running, probably on Gnome. If
so, I think it will be difficult to move to Wheezy and completely avoid
unwanted Gnome-ness. The best you can do is to install the xfce4
metapackage and then try to remove the big bits of Gnome. I have an
ex-Gnome Sid/LXDE installation, and I think purging gnome-core and
gnome-panel (which will kill the gnome metapackage) will discourage any
attempt to upgrade the full Gnome system. You might try cleaning up a
bit more with deborphan and related tools, and maybe aptitude why, and
then try the dist-upgrade. You say that you don't fancy picking bits of
Gnome out of your system, and I thoroughly agree, I'd start again from
scratch. This time it will be quicker...
I haven't ever installed xfce4 from scratch, so I can't be definitive
here, but this is how I'd do it: make the smallest usable installation
of Squeeze, nothing but the base system (some would say not even that),
and do the dist-upgrade to Wheezy immediately. Any DE, even one of the
lighter ones, is quite bulky and there is no point in downloading it
all twice. Also, the less there is to begin with, the less chance a
dist-upgrade will cause trouble. Moving from a brand new bare-bones
Squeeze should present no problems, but read through the upgrade notes
again, just to be sure. You will already know that apt-get rather than
aptitude is recommended for the upgrade.
Assuming you now have a working but very basic console-based Wheezy,
install what you want. Unless you're really stuck for every byte of
space, go for the xserver-xorg and xfce4 metapackages rather than
trying to pick the bits you really need, because that never works for
me. I normally use LXDE, but I had trouble with that in a qemu VM
recently, and loaded xfce4 there, but after I already had a (nearly)
working LXDE. Unfortunately, I did it in rather a hurry, in the process
of solving another problem that required a VM, so I didn't make notes
and the whole thing is now a vague blur in my memory. So I don't know
if xfce4 will bring in a display manager, but I would have thought so, a
graphical DE is not going to leave you in a console. If it does, then
you will need to login and type startx, then install a display manager
e.g. xdm, and you will then get a graphical login after boot. I used to
like gdm, but the current gdm3 seems to have grown into a mini-DE and
wants a lot of the Gnome libraries. Most of the xdm dependencies are
things you want anyway, and xorg and xfce4 will have already pulled
some of them in. If you want the optional xfswitch-plugin, that will
demand gdm, so your decision is made.
You're not going to avoid all the Gnome stuff, as there will be Gnome
and probably KDE software you want that will pull in various libraries,
but it will certainly be easier doing it this way than trying to remove
unwanted bits afterwards. There probably will be a bit of trial and
error, but once you have a working Wheezy you should be able to install
anything missing quite easily, and once you have a graphical system and
a web browser, things will be easier still. Something you may want to
do before critical stages is to use dpkg --get-selections to record what
you have installed already, so if it all goes terribly wrong you can
get back to this position without installing packages one by one.
You will discover that a lot of what you currently take for granted
came with Gnome, but restoring (most of) the missing bits is just a
matter of patience...
Best of luck.