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Re: Upgrading from very-old Debian

On 28.11.2017 17:58, The Wanderer wrote:
On 2017-11-28 at 11:53, Patrick Bartek wrote:

On Tue, 28 Nov 2017 10:28:57 -0500 The Wanderer
<wanderer@fastmail.fm> wrote:

I've run across someone who says her machine is running Debian
oldoldoldstable or maybe even oldoldoldoldstable, and who
consequently can't upgrade to newer Debian.

I seem to recall that there *is* a way to do step-wise upgrades of
such old systems, i.e. upgrading from oldoldoldoldstable to
oldoldoldstable, then to oldoldstable, then to oldstable, then to
stable. However, I'm stumped as to how to actually get started on
doing that.

The last few steps of this are straightforward; oldoldstable is
still available in the repos, as far as I'm aware. The first ones
are more of a problem; if I understand matters correctly, anything
prior to oldoldstable is removed from the live repos, although its
.deb files are still maintained on e.g. snapshot.debian.org. (Which
doesn't really suffice for the equivalent of a dist-upgrade,
because you'd have to manually download all the correct .debs by
hand and then install them with dpkg.)

Is there in fact a way to manage the first steps of this stepwise
upgrade, from one aged-out-of-the-repos release to another?

If so, any pointers to information on how to go about it?

Save yourself time and lots of problems, back up your data and do a
clean install of the current Debian release.

A: This isn't me, this is someone I encountered.

B: That's not always a viable option, depending on the circumstances.
It's probably the easier option when it is viable, but that doesn't mean
it should be the only option considered, for cases when something else
may be more viable.

To do what you want requires dist-upgrading each release, in order,
one-at-a-time, then troubleshooting each dist-upgrade once done with
no guarantees it will work.

Yes, of course. That's established procedure, and it's entirely
reasonable to expect people to follow it. (Is there any reason it
shouldn't work, when it worked for people at the time when those
releases were made?)

Be sure to read and explicitly follow the dist-upgrade instructions
in the Release Notes for each release. Many times there are special
things that must be done. Just dist-upgrading from your current old
install to Stretch, skipping all those inbetween is "not
recommended," meaning it won't work.

Of course. That's exactly why accessible repositories containing those
older releases are needed; my question was about how / where to manage
those, and that was answered in the first reply.

As a friendly recommendation:
If it was about me, I would encourage to backup the home directories as well as mail or similar, depending what other kind of services running under the particular system.

Backup the data to an external usb drive or the whole source drive if you are keen on that, for example. Then do a "clean" install of a new system on the original drive. Otherwise you might run into issues, where you might miss out on an important package, if you snapshot upgrade one by one.

Running such a old and obsolete system is not only a security risk, but also in other areas where improvements has been made, you miss out on a lot. This was not the question of course, but it simply doesn't make much sense to keep such an old operating system around which is not even actively supported by documentation or people likewise anymore.

And it might not simply be worth the hassle to upgrade step by step, possible breaking something in the process and troubleshoot why one package depends on another or crippling other services, having obsolete folders or even configuration files and settings laying around, which are not needed anymore. As stated by other people here, it might and perhaps will, take much longer time to troubleshoot everything or simply end up to be impossible to do correctly.

Better clean and start from scratch install with a known supported installation. Ensure just to backup mail(dirs), mail, .ssh, .config or similar folders in "home" (or better the whole home folders" or "var" or other locations which might contain data you need. Or "etc" for configuration settings - but "etc" content, might and will most likely have changed dramatically depending on what was installed previously.

To backup the software list of what was installed on the system, I would use something like an "apt list | grep installed" and pipe the output into a file. But for "apt-get" this does not seem to be an option, so perhaps theres another way to get a list of installed packages using dpkg or such, I'm just not aware of that. This way, you can then, after some cleanup in an editor for example, pipe the output of listed installed packages into the new system apt/apt-get and reinstall as available in the repository everything that was installed earlier, most likely.

Of course, after the home directories have been created accordingly using add user and copy and paste selectively from home to home of the backup media.

Good luck!

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