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Author Topic: Migrating from LMDE 2 MATE to Sparky "rolling" 5.5 MATE -- any suggestions?  (Read 725 times)

Offline Bill Statler

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Hello, all!  Sparky newbie here -- I'm downloading right now.

I'm currently running LMDE 2 (Linux Mint Debian Edition), which is based on Debian Jessie, and MATE 1.18.0.  This will be end-of-life in a few months, and there is no convenient upgrade path to LMDE 3 + MATE, so it's a good time for me to consider switching to Sparky.

Do you have any suggestions to make this switch relatively painless?

For example, is there any chance I will be able to preserve software settings (LibreOffice, Evolution, browsers, etc)?  What about file ownership and permissions?  User names?

I currently have separate partitions for:
  • /
  • /boot/efi
  • /home
  • swap
and plenty of free disk space.

I've read a bunch of material on the wiki and the forum, so I understand the basics of how to install Sparky.  I'm just wondering if there are specific things I should do (or NOT do!) to make the migration easier.

Thanks!

Offline paxmark1

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It is your machine.  All choices are yours.

  Wow-  LMDE2 is based on Jessie, that is ancient. 

One possible path to investigate would be to go from LMDE to Debian - possibly by changing apt/sources.  ONLY do this if others have been successful.  Check the Debian forums.  Then you could change your source list from jessie to stretch to buster   Then you could add sparky repositories.  BUT probably not.   Stretch is about to enter freeze for the transition to Buster, which is what Sparky5 is based on.There are numerous ways this could go bad.  Edit  "LMDE 2 has yet to migrate to Systemd."  No, do not do it this way.

Of course you would have made backups. 

Or another way would be to install Sparky making sure to not format /home.  Since you are not changing your DE the previous ".dot" files hopefully will not cause conflicts. 

Or to do more work but eliminate possible problems - You can back your dot files, remove them from /home.  Install not formatting home and then add back the customizations piece by piece.  I did that in 2008 going from Ubuntu to Debian KDE. 

In a vm (virtualbox) I just started up a debian testing mate, much nicer than the one at work. 

Another option would be to get the non-free netinstall Buster Alpha3 (keeps your wireless up) install debian testing and then add the sparky repositories.  In tasksel untick the DebianDesktop and tick the Mate button and tick the ssh server options. Then add the Sparky repositories under /etc/apt/sourcelists.d/

Big changes.  Down the road you will be happy not being in Jessie. 


edit  you can always post in the Debian forum and say that you want to go from LMDE2 to Debian Buster and see what others might say.  Some flaming because "the forum is only for stable - not testing" but HOAS and othes might give some good advice with more knowledge than me. 
peace out
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 11:23:29 pm by paxmark1 »
Don't make a FrankenDebian

Offline hedon

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I mostly agree with Paxmark, but if you want "quick & painless", my OPINION is to forget about bringing LMDE current through repo changes.  It's almost guaranteed to induce breakage.  Your partition scheme is setup nicely, so I'd say take a backup of your /home directory and just install Sparky over LMDE, but keeping your same mount points.  And I agree with Pax about the hidden "dot" config files.  I think I'd mount the home directory to "/home" but go ahead and format, effecitvely wiping all old data.

With a fresh Sparky installation, copy your data over...Docs, Music, Vids, etc...  Then see what your config/preferences look like.  If you have customized configs, start pulling them over from the backups, one by one, until you're satisfied.

It SOUNDS like a lot of work, but I honestly and truly believe this is the path of least resistance for you.

Offline Bill Statler

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Thanks -- lots of good options to consider.  I'll do some research.

With a fresh Sparky installation, copy your data over...

It SOUNDS like a lot of work, but I honestly and truly believe this is the path of least resistance for you.

I'll probably end up doing it that way... but I'll probably waste a lot of time trying it other ways first. 8)

I don't mind the extra work on my own computer.  But I'll be doing the same upgrade on my wife's computer, so with luck I'll find a method that doesn't cause her too much inconvenience.

Of course you would have made backups.

I made backups onto three separate devices today, before I even risked booting from the Sparky DVD. ;D

Offline hedon

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Thanks -- lots of good options to consider.  I'll do some research.

I'll probably end up doing it that way... but I'll probably waste a lot of time trying it other ways first. 8)

I don't mind the extra work on my own computer.  But I'll be doing the same upgrade on my wife's computer, so with luck I'll find a method that doesn't cause her too much inconvenience.

I made backups onto three separate devices today, before I even risked booting from the Sparky DVD. ;D

You're my kind of adventurer!  With the safety net (backups) in place, working on new tricks/skills becomes fairly risk-free, with everything but your time.  And is time ever TRULY wasted if you learned something in the process?  "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you came for".

Sounds like you have your bases covered and I'm betting you'll be just fine!  Good luck!   8)

Offline Bill Statler

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My plan of attack:
  • Add another partition and install Sparky on it for testing.
  • But don't mount my old LMDE2 /home partition at first.  Just get Sparky running smoothly with MATE, and install software I want.
  • Make sure the UID and GID of every user (me and my wife) are the same in Sparky as in LMDE.
  • Then edit /etc/fstab and restart with the old /home partition mounted.  See which programs start up with their correct settings.
  • Use fire extinguisher if necessary.

It is your machine.  All choices are yours.

And is time ever TRULY wasted if you learned something in the process?  "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you came for".

This forum may need a Philosophy section. 8)

Offline hedon

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This forum may need a Philosophy section. 8)

To have, or not to have...that IS the question?!   ::)

Offline Bill Statler

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Progress: I have a dual-boot system (Sparky + MATE and LMDE 2 + MATE), but for the moment, each has its own /home.  And I've got all the important applications that I used on LMDE 2 installed in Sparky.  Still to do: let Sparky use my old LMDE 2 /home, and see what breaks.

I'm not going to post a detailed HOWTO, just a random collection of tips:

Using "hidden" commands after booting Sparky Live from a DVD:
gdisk /dev/sda
Command not found -- who do you think you are, trying to do things like that?
sudo gdisk /dev/sda
Yes master! I hear and obey!


Backing up drive partitions to external drive:
Boot from Clonezilla Live.  This software has a really nerdy user interface, but it works.
https://clonezilla.org/

Changing drive partition table from MBR to GPT:
I needed to add a 5th partition to my drive, which was using the old MBR (Master Boot Record) paritioning instead of GPT.  So this was a convenient time to upgrade, and it was pretty easy.  The needed tools are on the Sparky Live disk.  Your hardware/BIOS needs to support GPT in order for this to work.  Also, your drive will probably be unbootable after this, until grub is reinstalled.  So it's best to proceed immediately to setting up your partitions, and installing Sparky (which will replace grub).

(The following examples assume you're working with /dev/sda.)

List the current partitions, mount points (if mounted), and UUIDs:
lsblk -f
Keep a record of those UUIDs.

Backup the Master Boot Record :
sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/media/live/MyUSBDrive/mbrbackup bs=512 count=1

Backup the partition table:
sudo sfdisk -d /dev/sda > /media/live/MyUSBDrive/mbrpartitiontable.txt

Convert MBR to GPT:
sudo gdisk /dev/sda
Verify -- checks drive for problems
Backup the GPT info to a file on an external drive
Write GPT info to the drive (or q to quit without saving changes)

Do lsblk -f again, and make sure the UUIDs haven't changed.  (If they did change, your old Linux may need to have its /etc/fstab edited before it will boot again.)

At this point you can use Gparted to make at least one new partition (which will be mapped to / in Sparky), and proceed with the installation.

Listing all installed packages:
dpkg-query -W -f '${Package}\n' > packagelist.txt
I needed this to remind me what I've got installed in my old LMDE 2.  It's a big list.  I made one for my old LMDE 2, and one for Sparky, and used diff to find what was missing from Sparky:
diff packagelist-lmde2.txt packagelist-sparky.txt | grep '<' > packagelist-missing-from-sparky.txt

Offline hedon

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Wow...cool info Bill!  Your badge may say "newbie", but those aren't newbie skillz!  Looking forward to more of your posts...I think I can learn a LOT from you!

Offline Bill Statler

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Thanks, but I didn't know how to do most of that stuff a week ago, and I'll forget it all in a few more weeks. 8)  If my notes save someone else from reaching my confusion level, I'm happy!

Sometime this week I'll make the big switch (letting Sparky use my old LMDE 2 /home).

Offline Bill Statler

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Sometime this week I'll make the big switch (letting Sparky use my old LMDE 2 /home).

Success!  (Mostly.)

I'll add a few more details later, but in brief, I installed Sparky with its own brand-new /home directory, and then I installed every piece of software that I'd had running under LMDE 2, but didn't do any setup.  I also made sure that users and groups under Sparky were identical to what I had on LMDE 2.

After making yet more backups, I edited /etc/fstab so that Sparky would use my old /home directory from LMDE 2.

There was one MAJOR bug.  In LMDE 2, the window manager was "mint-window-manager", rather than MATE's default "marco".  So I had no window manager, which meant all my windows had no title bars, no borders, no minimize/maximize/close buttons, no ability to resize them, in some cases no ability to move them, and they were only active if the mouse pointer was inside them.  Yuck!  Took me 4 hours to figure that one out.

The cure:
gsettings set org.mate.session.required-components windowmanager 'marco'

Anyway, I've still got a few things to research and fix, but I have a usable system.  Firefox, Chromium, and Evolution e-mail are all working, with all (or most) of my old settings, bookmarks, e-mails, etc.  Basic MATE tools (Caja file manager, Pluma, Terminal) are working.  So far, so good.

Offline hedon

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Nice work Bill!  Congrats!  This will make a nice "how to" for the next poor soul who'd like to move on from the slow-moving and antiquated LMDE but isn't sure what distro to jump to, or how to!  Thanks for posting your progress!

Offline Bill Statler

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I haven't been completely successful with fonts.  I did the old-fashioned thing of copying all my old fonts into /usr/share/fonts (avoiding overwriting any newer files that were already installed with Sparky), and then running 'fc-cache -f -v'.  That seemed to work, although I got a lot of warning messages about fonts skipped because of a "looping directory" (if I remember right).  Anyway, many fonts are working, but many others are PCF bitmap fonts when they shouldn't be.

Oh well.  I'll probably need to redo font setup, and learn how to write a fonts.conf file...

Offline Bill Statler

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Ah, fonts fixed.
sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig-config
  "Enable bitmapped fonts by default?"  NO!
sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig
  and
sudo fc-cache -f -v

No more bitmapped fonts. :)

Also, it looks like the "looped directory" error messages from fc-cache are a harmless side-effect of rebuilding the cache.

I'm running out of things to fix.  I might have to start using my computer for actual work soon!

Offline Bill Statler

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Qt applications (like Sparky's default PDF viewer, qpdfview) don't automatically inherit theme settings from MATE.  This will improve the look:

  • Install package qt5ct.
  • Create /etc/profile.d/qt5ct.sh containing:
    export QT_QPA_PLATFORMTHEME="qt5ct"
    export QT_AUTO_SCREEN_SCALE_FACTOR=0
  • Reboot.
  • Start qt5ct (it will be in the menu as "Qt5 Settings"), and in the Appearance tab, make sure Standard Dialogs is set to "default".  (If it isn't, make the change, and reboot again.)

Qt windows now ought to look a bit more like MATE windows (although they won't be identical).



Next puzzle to solve: Why is MATE Terminal ignoring my ~/.profile file?