It’s that time of the decade: I’m reinstalling Debian

March 30th, 2010

My main home workstation (previously named katherina, after a distant ancestor) was originally bought a few years ago — probably 2002 or 2003. Since then, it’s had its motherboard upgraded twice, new hard disks, and then even was moved to a completely new machine back in January. Throughout all of that, it’s still running the original sid that I put on it when it was new, dist-upgraded since then, copied to new disks via tar and netcat, but never reinstalled. So it’s probably been less than my average of 10 years on a given Debian install.

But it’s time. For one thing, despite the fact that I was one of the people that helped start Debian’s amd64 port (then known as the pure64 effort), I’ve been running i386 on my 64-bit workstation. For another, I want to switch from XFS to ext4. And finally, it has not escaped my notice that my laptop running Gnome with xmonad feels a lot faster than the far more powerful desktop running KDE4 with xmonad, plus Gnome integrates better with xmonad. And there are some nice gnome bits installed by default that my KDE system doesn’t have, and 400 packages installed on my system that are no longer in any archive. I could, of course, clean that stuff up — but all this adds up to enough of an excuse to start from scratch.

I continue to be very impressed with the quality of squeeze. This will be a very nice release when it comes out.

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  1. Mark

    I’m still holding out. I’m running the same installation on my desktop that I started in 1998. Many motherboard and hard drive upgrades have come and gone since then.

    Haven’t had any reason to reinstall in those 12 years. Don’t ya love debian?



  2. Kelly Clowers

    I made the jump to x86-64 at the beginning of 2009, otherwise I would still be on my ~2003 era install. I suspect this install will last at least 10 years.


  3. Nick

    I installed 4.0 on (then) 3 new AMD 64 servers back in 2008. Installed, updated and upgraded, flawlessly. Also run 6 VMWare instances on a ‘big box’, awsome performance and stability.


  4. Saahbs

    Hi John,

    I love the stability and flexibility of GNU/Debian. I’ve been running the same install on my primary desktop since Potato (regularly dist-upgraded and usually running mix of stabe+testing). The machine used to be a P3 notebook, then Sempron desktop and then Athlon64 desktop with pxeboot+root-nfs.

    I’m turning off the current box as it is in our bedroom (aka nursery for our 4month old). Since the box was already nfs-root, I’m running tightvncserver in chroot on my file server and connecting via vnc(hextile). On a gigabity network, one almost can’t tell a difference in gui responsiveness :)

    Thanks for being a part of GNU/Debian.



  5. Tomaž

    John, switching from amd64 to i386 is no excuse to reinstall your 7-year old Debian installation ;) I took it as a challenge and in the end it took me a day’s worth of work, which is probably just about the same amount of time I would waste getting a new installation up to speed.

    Plus it was much more fun (watching ‘ls’ segfault and all that).


  6. James

    I’m hoping dpkg multiarch will arrive before too long so I don’t have to reinstall.


  7. Diggory

    Come on Tomaž, a new installation isn’t that hard. Aside from periodically finding I’ve forgotten to install the odd package I need, it’s not so difficult to have a new system up and running including tweaks and copying data within a couple of hours!


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