Upgrade from LMDE 1 to LMDE 2

  9 years ago


This tutorial explains how to upgrade LMDE 1 "Debian" to LMDE 2 "Betsy".

It is assumed that:

  • You have a decent experience/knowledge with/of APT
  • You are running a supported edition (i.e. either Cinnamon or MATE)
  • Your LMDE 1 system is at Update Pack 8 with upgrades
  • You didn't upgrade or pin from Debian Testing or Debian Unstable.
  • You are not using Romeo (if you are, please disable it prior to upgrading).
  • Your init system is sysvinit (i.e. that you did not switch to systemd).

As usual, please make sure to:

  • Make a backup (an HDD image/snapshot of your system for instance) so you can restore everything the way it was if something goes wrong.
  • Try the live version of LMDE 2 Betsy, to make sure it works well with your hardware (there's a newer kernel, newer libs, newer drivers in there..), at least the way LMDE 1 does for you.

Step 1 - Modify your APT Source

First, we need to point the computer at the LMDE 2 "Betsy" repositories.

As root, edit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/official-package-repositories.list to make it look like this:

deb http://packages.linuxmint.com betsy main upstream import
deb http://http.debian.net/debian jessie main contrib non-free
deb http://http.debian.net/debian jessie-updates main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org jessie/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://www.deb-multimedia.org jessie main non-free
deb http://extra.linuxmint.com betsy main

Step 2 - Update your APT cache

Now, we update the cache (and upgrade repository keyrings) so the computer is aware of what's available in Betsy. In a terminal, type:

apt update

apt install debian-archive-keyring deb-multimedia-keyring

apt update

Step 3 - Install necessary packages before the upgrade

To avoid conflicts during the upgrade, we install a few packages prior to upgrading. In a terminal, type:

apt install sysvinit-core adwaita-icon-theme blueberry

Step 4 (optional) - Turn off your screensaver

In the MATE/Cinnamon settings, it is recommended to turn off anything that might trigger the screensaver. By the time the upgrade is downloaded, the screen might be locked when it's time to upgrade the screensaver itself.. this is usually ok, but you never know, it's better to be safe than sorry :)

Step 5 - Perform the upgrade

Now that we're all ready, we can perform the upgrade. In a terminal, type:

apt dist-upgrade

Review the information in details. In particular pay special attention to the list of packages being removed. If that looks ok, confirm the command and go for it.

Step 6 - Checks

First, check that the upgrade finished completely. Type:

apt dist-upgrade

It should tell you that everything is now up to date. If it doesn't, it means the system isn't fully updated yet.

The command below also is useful, if you're stuck with conflicts and want to resolve the APT cache:

apt install -f

Finally, make sure you've a core set of packages installed, depending on your edition you can perform either of these commands:

apt install mint-meta-debian-cinnamon


apt install mint-meta-debian-mate

Step 6 - Reboot

Don't forget to reboot the computer after everything is finished.

Additional info

  • When you upgrade package(s) from the current deb-multimedia, the keyring is still old and apt-get says "the following packages cannot be authenticated: .... install? [y/N]. That's ok, just press "y" when asked.
  • When asked to keep or overwrite some files in /etc directory, you can answer whatever you want about these files:
    They will be overwritten with Mint-specific data by mintsystem/debian-system-adjustments tandem on the next boot. You can see what's been overwritten in /var/log/mintsystem.log file.
  • The same applies to /etc/grub.d/10_linux file. However, updating it from upstream will make LMDE entries in GRUB menu look like "LinuxMint GNU/Linux" instead of the intended "LMDE 2 Cinnamon 64-bit (/dev/sdXY)". You can run "sudo update-grub" to fix that if you wish. You need to run it after the upgrade is done and the system is rebooted.
  • Cinnamon's shutdown/reboot dialog is missing these buttons right after the upgrade (it has only Cancel button). You can logout and then reboot or shutdown via MDM's menu, or just use the command-line tools (sudo reboot/sudo poweroff). It's a one-time issue - it will be gone on the next system boot.
  • All Cinnamon fonts are changed to Noto after the upgrade, except for "Default font", which was left Sans for some reason. This is easily corrected via the font preferences.
  • LMDE's mintUpdate (mintupdate-debian package) is automatically replaced by the original mintUpdate (mintupdate package) which is used in the main Mint edition. It is now compatible with LMDE 2. Unlike LMDE's mintUpdate, it won't check for updates automatically on start, but rather will wait for the specified amount of time (30 minutes by default) before doing the first check. It essentially avoids some issues like this one. You can always click on its icon and tell it to check for updates right away.
  • Both gnome-terminal and gedit are 3.14 (from Jessie repos), not the older versions from Betsy repo. This is due to them being too new in LMDE UP8 repos. If you want, you can try downgrading them to get your system closer to the "official" LMDE 2 installation.
  • The issue with "/init: 401: /init: touch; not found" message on boot (mentioned here) is present after the upgrade. I'm not sure how serious it is - the system boots fine. There's a discussion about it in Debian mailing list.
  • In one of our tests we experienced fonts problems. They failed to render and only squares could be seen instead of text. This was due to fonts-noto not installing properly. If you're facing this issue, open a terminal and type "apt reinstall fonts-noto".

Finding help

  • A lot of people performed the upgrade before the upgrade path was officially open. They gathered on the forums, talked about issues (some of which are fixed now) and their solutions. If you're experiencing issues with the upgrade, this should help: http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=242&t=192201
  • Also as usual, don't hesitate to connect to the IRC and seek help on the #linuxmint-help channel (irc.spotchat.org).
UncleOP 7 years ago

I followed the steps above. Indeed took a long time, and I ended up with a system that booted - ssh and VNC into it were OK - but the display/X/video side on the console was trashed. Since my / and /home are on separate partitions it ended up being simpler - and quicker - to install LMDE 2 afresh. So far I have only had to re-install a few things, and the net result is that my system has experienced some long overdue "spring cleaning".

It is tempting to go back to pure Debian, but it is also really nice to have my video and audio Just Work in Mint, with out the typical Debian non-free twiddling. Probably a question for the forums, but what components in Mint/LMDE prevent the truly rolling/continuous updates that are part of core Debian?

xserty2 7 years ago

Perfect tutorial, thank you!
After a few envisaged glitches with the nVidia driver, and manually installing mint-info-debian-mate ('lsb_release -a' did not reflect the new version) I have a perfectly working system!
I find it much more responsive than LMDE 1!
It's a pleasure working on this laptop again!


LMDE 2, 32bit, Mate

cazazo 7 years ago

I have done this upgrade yesterday (26/07/16) Although it went well at the end of the day, it was really a painful process and took me hours to complete. I had to fix broken packages, uninstall things, reinstall others, play with the NVIDIA drivers, etc. but I did survive! Everything seems to be working just fine! Happens to be the very first time that I have done an actually working upgrade! Thanks Clem!

jimbelton 7 years ago

Caveat emptor...

In my experience, upgrading is usually a bad idea. I tried this upgrade yesterday (July 9, 2016). After a reboot, there were errors in the startup log and the login page never appeared. My next step was to clean install LMDE 2 and restore my files (well, some of the data files at least) from backup.

The good news? With LMDE 2 installed, the unsolvable problem I had with the GIMP on LMDE 1 seems to have been fixed.

zhorik 8 years ago

The upgrade procedure works like charm. Although the first attempt failed due to the lack of space, I could boot the old kernel, free some space and restart the upgrade. Which then was successfully completed.

zhorik 8 years ago

Dear Clem,
thank you very much for your howto. Everything was going nice -- apt reported it wants to use 1.4G of my ~4G at the moment available space, and in no time the HD was used up completely -- upgrade terminated with errors. But the worst thing is that I followed a suggestion from your blog
and used Redo for backing up my system... I backed up my system partition only, because I was not going to mess up neither with /home nor with /windows. It turned however out that Redo can only backup one single partition but it can not restore this partition to the destination partition of user's choice. So an easy restore will not work now. :-) Please, modify you blog post and remove any mentioning of this Redo software because it is not practical with today's TB sized hard drives.
Best wishes


andrew5859 8 years ago

Hello Clem,

Does this or would this also pertain to the KDE versions as well? Can this be done to say;
Qiana to Rafaella....great work btw.....been a long while....cheers mate! :D

akromic 8 years ago

It seems Software Selection app is broken; if I select any other mirror server (or click Restore default...), it rewrites official-package-repositories.list file so its sources again points to "debian" instead of "betsy" and "testing" instead of "jessie" repos.

As it now obviously pointed to the wrong repos, apt complained about InRelease being over 500 days old and refused to use the sources. The only cure was of course to replace again all that sources to those posted in this article.

whitetiger2 8 years ago

Finally a tutorial that tells me that my sources should be updated first.

mamafanfan 9 years ago

I followed the tutorial to upgrade from LMDE1 to LMDE2. I couldn't get Grub to use the new 3.16.0-4 linux image (probably because I've used wheezy-backports previously to do an upgrade). I restored the system back to LMDE1 and repeated all the steps except 'dist-upgrade'. What are the main implications if I just do a general package upgrade (after changing the repo to betsy and jessie) without a corresponding dist-upgrade?

jomaed 9 years ago

@Monsta: Thanks, I'm gonna check that. I DO want to upgrade my PC

Monsta 9 years ago

@lmsluz: mintupdate-debian is auto-replaced with mintupdate on upgrade

@jomaed: various parts of systemd (parts that are not related to the init system) are always installed in modern Mint systems.
What you need to check is whether you have systemd-sysv package installed - that makes systemd the init system.

jomaed 9 years ago

It looks great but I have an isue... I don't know why/how but I have systemd installed in my LMDE 1, and I have not done anything to change my init. So, I guess I'll have to wait a way to upgrade with systemd or do a fresh install.

zoli62 9 years ago

Instead of apt there is enough apt-get?

xfrank 9 years ago

Very good, all went fine. Thanks Clem and all the LM team.

zantaz 9 years ago

You are a wise devoloper ... You start mint project ... and what You write is always right ... good work ...

jahid_0903014 9 years ago

@lib2know, there was no downvote on this tutorial, only neutral (don't care votes)...

wilo108 9 years ago

Is there all that much value in an upgrade? With a separate home partition, and a list of installed packages (`dpkg --get-selections > installed_packages.txt`) I can have a clean install up-to-speed in a hour or so; I can't help feeling that this would take longer and be more likely to throw up issues I'd have to dig into. Just throwing it out there as an option some folk might consider, if they've not already.

gabril 9 years ago

good job Clem :D

clem 9 years ago

Here we go, the path is now open. Sorry it took long. Good luck everybody.

lib2know 9 years ago

Some troll even demotes Clem's article :-D