Upgrade Debian 6 “Squeeze” to Debian 7 “Wheezy”

I’m no linux guru, so when it came time to upgrade my 2 linux boxes, I was a little nervous at first. In the past, I had never stuck with the same distribution for very long, so “upgrading” really just constituted installing and trying out another distro (Salix, Mint, etc.) where a previous distro used to be. Turns out, Debian is particularly easy to upgrade with the following steps, many of which were borrowed from here.

(Forgive my laziness about formatting this post; I might come back and spruce it up later, but for now I’m just capturing my notes.)

  1. In a terminal screen, login as the “root” user by issuing the “su” (Super User) command.  This is important, and it was absent from where I was getting my instructions.  My first time through, I attempted the first few steps with “sudo apt-get…”, and that just didn’t seem to be working.  The rest of these steps should be executed as ROOT.
  2. #bring your Squeeze package listings up to date
    apt-get update
  3. apt-get upgrade [upgrades your packages]
  4. apt-get dist-upgrade [upgrades all distribution-specific files, presumably]
  5. If you want to be really careful, run a few other checks, as described at the link above, such as the “dpkg –audit” command to make sure everything’s in good order.  Assuming all is well, move on.
  6. Using vi or another text editor, modify /etc/apt/sources.list, and replace each occurrence of “squeeze” with “wheezy”.  Save file.  Now that Aptitude/Synaptic will be looking at the Wheezy-specific distro files, next steps actually install them.
  7. apt-get update [brings your package listings up to date for Wheezy]
  8. apt-get upgrade [upgrades your packages to their Wheezy best]
  9. apt-get dist-upgrade [upgrades your OS and kernel files to Wheezy (I think)]
  10. reboot
  11. Verify the version updates were recorded by running “cat /etc/issue” and “cat /etc/debian_version”

Notes along the way:

  • (upgrade/dist-upgrade) You’ll be prompted to approve some disk space usage.  [Y]es, you should approve it.
  • (upgrade/dist-upgrade) You’ll be prompted with some update notices for certain software.  Advance through the notices by pressing the spacebar until you get to the end of the notices, then press “q” to quit from the notification.  Upgrade will resume on its own
  • (upgrade) You’ll be prompted to overwrite “/etc/dhcp/dhclient.conf”.  I said [Y]es to overwriting with the maintainer’s version, because I didn’t see anything special/custom in my own version.  This was not the default option; I’m not sure this one mattered to me.
  • (upgrade) You’ll be prompted to overwrite “/etc/sudoers”.  I took the default option, [N]o, because I had added some users and didn’t to overwrite with a generic version from the maintainer.
  • (dist-upgrade) You’ll be prompted to restart a bunch of services after they’ve been upgraded.  Do it, of course.
  • (dist-upgrade) I got some firmware warning suggesting that the new kernel might need libraries/files that weren’t available in the “free” version, and tell me I might want to add “contrib non-free” to the sources.list lines.  I had already added those “contrib non-free” modifiers though, so I’m not sure what the issue was.
  • (after reboot) I was offered to reuse my old XFCE desktop panel config, and I chose to do so.  I did, however, have to change the resolution for my monitor to get it back to how it was.

Follow up notes:


  • When booting, Grub still offered the old kernel (2.6.x I think), but defaulted to the new kerkel (3.2.x I think). I found that when booting into the new kernel, the system would freeze 10-15 minutes into the session. I didn’t see this if I booted into the old kernel. To fix this, booted into the new kernel and disabled the screensaver. That appears to solve the issue, so there must be something screwed up about the XFCE screensaver in my update.

  • Perhaps related to the screensaver issue, my system seems to have started detecting 2 monitors, because when I right-click on the desktop and enter the “Desktop Settings” dialog, 2 monitor tabs are listed. I think this might be why I was seeing the weirdness described above whereby the resolution was screwed up. I don’t really know what’s going on, but perhaps you’ll see something similar. Good luck.

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