I wanted to install Ubuntu 9.04 (jaunty) instead of Debian (Etch) because Debian (Etch) became «old stable», cannot be updated via regular Gnome Update Manager and most of my friends used Ubuntu.
However all of a sudden I actually managed to update my previous Debian installation preserving all my data, application setting and keyboard binding. I even get back the Debian logo to my desktop, though off course the command
reports that I have got Ubuntu 9.04 (jaunty)
Because it was so easy and almost all via GUI interface I would like to log what I did in hope that it could help for those who updates Debian, Ubuntu or installs Ubuntu instead of Debian.
I began with the backuping of my home directory.
tar -zcvf your.tar.gz /home/your_home
My advise is to do it as a root (or with sudo). I don’t now how it happened but some files required the root access.
Then I began wonder how preserving my installed application. I decided that it should be a way to save their list in Synaptic Package Manager (in Gnome this graphical utility is in the menu System>Administration> Synaptic Package Manager). Indeed in Synaptic menu File I found Save Markings As and saved the list of the installed packages to my flash drive.
Saving the markings turned out to be very important since Synaptic also has the menu File > Read Markings that allows marking all the previously installed packages for the new installation.
Then I again went to the Gnome menu System and select Disk Management (or something like it because in Ubuntu it is now Partition Editor). The goal was to record the sizes and the names of the partitions because it seems the only simple way to determine where to format and where not while installing.
I was lucky because when I installed Debian I read the docs and following to their advice installed /home to a separate partition. So I needed to format only the partition with / , where the system was installed.
Now I got the Ubuntu installation CD and began to install. I selected the manual partition. Then I selected to format my “system partition” and map to / . I found the system partitions by its the size and the system name that I recorded previously (in my particular case it was dev/sda3). Then I selected my “home” partition (again finding by its size and the system name). I selected not to format the “home” partition and mapped it to /home. Then I installed.
After the installation and rebooting I got the Ubuntu. All my data in /home were preserved. Moreover, all my custom keyboard shortcuts worked and all the symbolic links that I checked also worked. It remained to restore my applications (previously installed packages).
So I went to Gnome menu System>Administration> Synaptic Package Manager and import the saved markings settings from my flash drive. It was a few “conflicts” marked by red. I usually resolved them clicking with the right mouse button and selecting to reinstall or update or in few cases delete (if I did not needed the package).
Finally I installed all the marked packages and tried to compile one my software with Kdevelop. All worked.
As a free bonus I even got the Debian logo on my desktop and desktop in general got the feel and look like in Debian.
Nothing left to say. It works. Happy installation and upgrading!