Beagleboard: Upgrading from Debian 5 to Debian 6

I recently wanted/needed to upgrade Debian on my Beagleboard. The original Debian install was done following the instructions over at when I update distributions I usually prefer doing a clean install but since 90+% of my time on the Beagleboard is done while working remotely I thought I would give the upgrade route a try.

Before beginning I backed up my system. I took a copy of /etc, /var, /root, /home. I also made backups of my webmin config. Lastly I also took copies of all the binaries I have compiled (some needed major tuning). Once I was satisfied I could rebuild should I encounter a catastrophic meltdown during the upgrade I decided to proceed.

My first stop was a Google search on the subject. This yielded an excellent x86 centric guide over at HowtoForge. The first section of the guide detailing package cleanup was helpful as aptitude identified 27 packages that could be removed. My second avenue for information, given the unsatisfactory results from my Google searches, was the Beagleboard mailing list. I posted a message requesting steps for a Debian upgrade and got some immediate feedback. The Beagleboard group is great!

So, to recap, here is what I assembled from the HowtoForge and Beagleboard group posts as my upgrade procedure.

Clean up Apt source list file /etc/apt/sources.list, mine looked like this post clean-up:

Next I cleaned up all the packages beginning with making sure the current distribution is up to date:

Now I regularly update my system so no actions were required for the above commands. (I’ve written about apt-* before as I was learning about it)

Next was package cleanup, I followed the instructions by Deninix here exactly as he wrote them.

Ensure that no packages on hold with:

dpkg –audit
dpkg –get-selections | grep hold

For the final go ahead test use:


Press g and the list shows which packages need your attention. In my case they were 27 packages listed as needing to be removed. So I removed them and then I was clean.

Next I followed the advice from the Beagleboard group.

I upgraded to the latest 2.6.35.x kernel for lenny using:

*I had to remove the “sudo” commands from the script

and rebooted.

Then I updated my sources list for squeeze, here’s what it looks like now

Then I started the upgrade process with:

The next recommned step was:

I did run into some fairly significant issues with “aptitude safe-upgrade”. On the first pass just about all running processes on the beagleboard became defunct and nothing was working correctly. So I rebooted with an absolute minimal system running little more than kernel and sshd and ran “aptitude safe-upgrade” again. This time I let it run for 18+ hours and during that time the CPU was pegged at 100% and I was getting into some pretty serious swapping so I decided it wasn’t likely working as intended. I decided to move on with

Here, dist-upgrade wanted to remove the “sysvconfig” package. I didn’t have any issues with this so I said “Yes”. The dist-upgrade command completely successfully and took about an hour.

I rebooted to make sure everything was sane. Next I decided to upgrade to the latest stable squeeze kernel with:

*I had to remove the “sudo” commands from the script

I rebooted to make sure everything was sane. Next I tested a few of my applications:

Apache : ok
Webmin : Requested I re-detect the OS, after that it was OK
Anyterm : ok
munin : ok
Various scripts : ok

All and all it was a fairly painless process and was able to complete it without needing the console.

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