Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Help with issues regarding installation of Debian

Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby Superdude_123 » 2017-12-23 23:03

I'm having so many stability problems with Ubuntu that I'm regretting the trial of it as my main OS that I now want to switch back to Debian. Since I've spent time configuring Ubuntu over the last year, is there a way to simply switch the distros and packages over from Ubuntu to Debian? Can I simply change my sources list, run an update/upgrade, and migrate away from Ubuntu?

As an added twist, I have to do this all remotely and I can SSH to the Ubuntu box.
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby 4D696B65 » 2017-12-23 23:05

Short answer. No
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby Superdude_123 » 2017-12-23 23:10

Is there a live version of Debian that I could boot in to (DVD) that would have SSH/VNC, so I could run everything remote since I'm guessing I need to do a fresh install?
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby Lysander » 2017-12-24 11:03

Superdude_123 wrote: Since I've spent time configuring Ubuntu over the last year, is there a way to simply switch the distros and packages over from Ubuntu to Debian? Can I simply change my sources list, run an update/upgrade, and migrate away from Ubuntu?


No-one else will tell you this here, but it's rather worrying that you have to ask this. It does make me wonder if you should attempt to install Debian at all since there is a large learning curve ahead of you. Still, have a go with the live DVD, though you will find Debian entails a lot more DIY setup and granular understanding of the OS than Ubuntu.
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby Wheelerof4te » 2017-12-24 12:31

Ubuntu is nice for newbies since it preconfigures everything, from Wi-Fi and drivers, to codecs for them at install time. Debian OTOH requires that user know what hardware he has, and for him/her to install firmware for it later. Same goes for codecs and GUI themes. Besides that, much is the same as on Ubuntu. Word of advice: some .deb files are meant just for Ubuntu. Also, never run Ubuntu kernel on top of Debian.

And never, ever mix Debian and Ubuntu repos.
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby None1975 » 2017-12-24 13:23

Wheelerof4te wrote:Same goes for codecs and GUI themes.

No, not the same. For example, when i install Audacious, or Cmus, or Smplayer, all necessary codecs is installed. Don't need to hunt that.
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby Wheelerof4te » 2017-12-24 14:02

^Yes, most codecs are installed, but few non-free ones remain. But I agree, you only need gstreamer1.0-libav for nearly everything now.
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby kedaha » 2017-12-24 14:51

Lysander wrote:No-one else will tell you this here, but it's rather worrying that you have to ask this. It does make me wonder if you should attempt to install Debian at all since there is a large learning curve ahead of you. Still, have a go with the live DVD, though you will find Debian entails a lot more DIY setup and granular understanding of the OS than Ubuntu.

Nothing much I can add to the replies except I'd like to comment that I think that whilst configuring Debian for use, for example, as a mail server, is complicated, I don't go along with the view that setting up and configuring a common or garden Debian stable desktop system involves "a large learning curve" and " a lot more DIY setup and granular understanding of the OS" beyond perhaps the configuration of some hardware which might require certain drivers.
For instance, my old dad, who's in his late eighties uses a Debian desktop system and never needs to stray outside userland; in fact, I just update the system remotely from time to time.
Others take a different view satirized at uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Debian:
Debian users pride themselves on being able to deal with pain and, to make their lives more painful and therefore better, they ensure that anything that appears to be remotely close to documentation, instructions or examples are immediately removed. Sysadmins who have managed to get debian installed on to production machines take great delight in providing no help whatsoever when users ask questions, such as "how the f**k do I get application xyz installed when you won't give me access to the package repositories?". Debian is truly the ideal OS of the sysadmin.

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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby Lysander » 2017-12-24 15:26

kedaha wrote:I don't go along with the view that setting up and configuring a common or garden Debian stable desktop system involves "a large learning curve"


You'll find the full quote was " there is a large learning curve ahead of you", i.e. it was specific to that poster, which is exactly my point. Your dad may find it easy to use [though by the sounds of it you maintain it for him] though there are plenty of other elderly Linux users out there who would not find it as easy. It's totally relative - if you pardon the pun.

kedaha wrote:beyond perhaps the configuration of some hardware which might require certain drivers


Again, this is totally relative to the user and what the user needs. My personal checklist for an Ubuntu/Mint install is about half a page - for Debian it's about four pages, and I am still learning. There is a lot more DIY setup in Debian in comparison to Ubuntu, and some users will definitely find it tricky.
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby Wheelerof4te » 2017-12-24 15:39

For the usability part, it all comes down to a DE choice. Your dad will be lost in Unity and GNOME if he has used Windows all his life. But give him KDE or Cinnamon, and he'll adapt in no time.
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby kedaha » 2017-12-24 18:23

I also use Debian desktop, Mate DE on the computers at work and they're also used —but never administered—without any problem by folks who've only ever used Windows, The point is that being able to install and configure a Debian desktop system has nothing to do with actually using the DE itself. But, back on topic, it might be fun to try and convert a Ubunto system to Debian but I doubt it's possible except by some convoluted process. From a recent topic I see there's a way to convert "Handy Linux" to Debian but no doubt that's pretty close to Debian.
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby GarryRicketson » 2017-12-24 19:03

by Superdude_123 »As an added twist, I have to do this all remotely and I can SSH to the Ubuntu box.


Why do you have to do it remotely ?
You say this is your main system, I find it difficult to understand how it is you main system, but you do not have physical access.

Can I simply change my sources list, run an update/upgrade, and migrate away from Ubuntu?

All ready answered, but no.

How do you know Debian is what you want ? I mean a year ago you thought
Ubuntu is what you want, now you seem to have changed you mind,... seems to me like you need to do some serious research and make up your mind what OS you are going to use, install that OS, and stick with it.

https://wiki.debian.org/DebianInstaller/Remote
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby Lysander » 2017-12-25 10:19

kedaha wrote:being able to install and configure a Debian desktop system has nothing to do with actually using the DE itself.


I'm pretty sure the same could be said for nearly any OS. But if the OP is the sole user of his computer, he is also the sole administrator, which is why Debian may not be the best choice for him. At least not at this point.
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Re: Switching from Ubuntu 16 LTS to Debian. Can it be done?

Postby pcalvert » 2017-12-25 11:18

Before installing Debian, it may be helpful to save a backup of /etc from the Ubuntu system.

Also, save a list of installed packages:
Code: Select all
dpkg --get-selections | awk '$2 ~ /^install$/ {print $1}' > ubuntu-installed-packages.txt


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