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Old 03-26-2008, 10:23 PM   #1
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Downgrading from Sid to Lenny

I've had my system on sid (unstable) for a couple years and for reasons I won't go into, I need to change to lenny (testing). Please, no preaching about how this is a bad idea, etc. I know this will not be easy and to some may appear stupid.

What I am seeking is advice on how to go about it in the least painful way. I believe that I would most likely be asking for trouble by just changing my sources.list file. The method that I have in mind right now is to make an installed package list, do a complete backup of /home and other non-package files I may have stored elsewhere (e.g. mp3, jpg) onto CDs or DVDs, and then just do a new install of lenny plus using the previous installed package list.

Surely someone has gone through this before and might share their experiences. Or, maybe some gurus can think this though better than I can and give me some advice (other than "forget it").

Old 03-27-2008, 09:51 AM   #2
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Looks like a reasonable approach to me.. Re-installing as opposed to trying to roll back is a better and safer bet.

On old install
dpkg --get-selections > /tmp/dpkglist.txt - Creates a list of current packages installed, and default packages that should be removed.

Copy dpkglist.txt to new install, restore the package selection and then install the packages..
dpkg --set-selections < /tmp/dpkglist.txt
apt-get -y update
apt-get dselect-upgrade
Old 03-27-2008, 11:38 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by hobo1 View Post
I've had my system on sid (unstable) for a couple years and for reasons I won't go into, I need to change to lenny (testing).
My own way is to configure apt in such a way it won't keep on sticking to sid upgrades, but to testing ones. The system keeps on running as usual, but waiting for packages to be lenny-validated before upgrading them again.
Old 03-27-2008, 12:43 PM   #4
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Most packages in Sid end up in Testing within a matter of days, I would just change my sources.list to Testing wait a week or two then try upgrading.
Old 03-27-2008, 03:23 PM   #5
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How about the best of both worlds?

Do the 1st step of the re-install method:
dpkg --get-selections  > dpkglist.txt
& put the file some place safe. With luck you won't need it, but it will be available if you do. For additional protection, you should also do:
dpkg -l  > dpkg-l.0.txt
stash this file in a safe place too.

You also should consider a back up of the system. Ideally, a gparted clone into some unused disk space.

Then, allow the "let it happen by itself" approach to take its course. After you do the upgrade from the Testing sources, you can do
dpkg -l  > dpkg-l.1.txt
& diff the 2 dpkg-l text files to see what is different that might need intervention.

If this easier way works, then great; otherwise, pull the saved dpkglist.txt & continue w/ the re-install.

I think the dpkg --get-selections to a list method is best for anything but letting Testing catch up to Unstable.

Please tell us what you decide to do & how well it works.
Old 04-02-2008, 10:45 PM   #6
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I survived the downgrading!

Thanks for the reinforcement and suggestions from all. About 4 days ago, I got up enough courage to follow through with my planned downgrading from Sid to Lenny. Over several years of using Sid, there have been multiple instances of things getting fouled up on my system -- many times links were messed up or old applications stopped working. I don't believe I caused this situation, but in some cases I might have. Recently several well used applications stopped working. I found myself spending just too much time trying to revive things.

Therefore, I opted to do a clean install of Lenny with the hope that my mysterious problems would be over. So far, so good. The several well used applications are now working again. I've reinstalled the many packages (>2000), but as you might suspect, I'm still in the ongoing process of trying many applications out and in some cases copying configuration and other data from my back up of the Sid installation.

And yes, I did make an almost complete mirror of my old Sid installation on a spare, unused large partition where it will remain for a long time.

I don't believe I've lost anything and have found no real problems other than the fact I did change linux kernels (to a later release) and have still to work on compiling new Nvidia drivers (the stock "nv" one is working, but I prefer the ones provided by Nvidia).

Thanks again -- I guess the worry about really messing things up was like anticipating going to the dentist and then finding the pre-visit worry was worse than the visit itself!



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