Officially, upgrading the KDE version of Linux Mint 17.3 to 18 is not supported, because "Linux Mint 18 KDE will use a new and different desktop called Plasma". I presume this means that the KDE4 to KDE5 upgrade process is not trivial. The official way to upgrade is to do a clean reinstall.

I use Linux Mint on my main (scientific computing) workstation, and would much rather not do a clean reinstall: following advice, my /home/ is not on a separate partition, I have several different (non-physical!) users installed, and the official installers just want to wipe everything and start again. I'd really much rather not.

What I'd like to do is update all of the apt sources to point at the right place, do an apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade and go home for the evening. As it stands at the moment, quite a few things randomly break every time I do an apt-get update (at the last one, nvidia drivers, cuda, and xfce due to a change in dbus!). I like the look of Plasma, and the live usb of 18.2 runs great on my computer. I want to upgrade without wiping everything. This is far from an unreasonable request.

I have't heard of anyone else doing this successfully for KDE Mint 17.3, and I'd like to know if it's possible. mintupgrade certainly thinks not. I'd like to try.

What happens if you just do something stupid, like sed -i 's/trusty/rosa/' /etc/apt/sources.list?

  • Do you really need to do a dist upgrade? It is probably not worth it. If you have a real need to upgrade constantly, consider using a rolling release distro (Arch ftw)
    – Bruno9779
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 14:44
  • I'd really quite like to, because the relatively old kernel version is causing problems. I realise that I could probably update each package individually -- but what's that if not a distribution?
    – Landak
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:25
  • Also, I feel like saying that I didn't realise two years ago that I'd be in this position now, and that I perhaps would have gone for Arch or similar in hindsight!
    – Landak
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:30
  • A distribution has a list of supported software versions, that in some cases cannot be altered (eg system python). I don't want to seem pushy, but you are really better off with a rolling release distro, where the upgrades are seemless. Anyway the distribution-upgrade never worked fully for me when I used ubuntu based distros
    – Bruno9779
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


The Mint forums say it isn't possible, I'm saying it might work. In my experience (I upgraded 3 systems from 17.x to 17.3 then to 18.0) it works 2 out of 3 times :)

First make sure you are totally up to date on whatever 17.x release you are on. I'll admit to NOT using the Mint update manager, but instead I use the apt-* utilities since I'm so used to working on Debian servers. First become root with sudo -i, then update the list apt-get update then upgrade all the way for your current version apt-get dist-upgrade. Once that is done and you've rebooted, etc. change your /etc/apt/sources.list.d/official-package-repositories.list to reference the next version up. Note when you go from 17.3 to 18.0 the mint-extras repository goes away, so remove the reference to it when you change your sources file.

Do not skip from 17.2 or .1 to 18.0, and do not skip from 17.3 to 18.1 or .2 ... bad juju is much more likely to happen.

  • Can you perhaps detail this a bit more? Have you tried this in a VM? [I might!] Is changing /etc/apt/sources.list.d/official-package-repositories.list as simple as sed -i 's/rosa/sarah'? What about /etc/lsb-release and /etc/os-release? What happens if I just install MATE and/or cinnamon, and then edit out the 'KDE' part of my original install, before running mintupgrade?
    – Landak
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 8:05
  • @Landak yup, simple sed on the official-package-repositories.list will do it, just be sure to remove/comment out the reference to the mint-extras repo. When you change the Mint channel to sarah you'll need to update the Ubuntu repo references to change trusty to xenial as well. The lsb-release and os-release files will be updated during the update/upgrade process. My 3 upgrades were done on live desktop systems - my home desktop (success), my home/work laptop (success) and my work desktop (fail). All 3 are/were set up with same software, kept in sync on updates, etc.
    – ivanivan
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 16:18
  • This does not seem to work, at least initially: after trying it in a VM, I'm left with a login screen (mintdm) which works fine, but I can't login to plasma -- an error appears saying that it could not find a QT4 dependency. Do I need to point mintdm to start the right (i.e. not kde4) version of kde? How does one do that if so?
    – Landak
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 18:00
  • Dunno, I did say that 2/3 succeeded.... The system that failed failed spectacularly and since my /home is a raid volume I just reinstalled since it was the quickest option. You may need to autoremove and then perhaps reinstall kde...
    – ivanivan
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 19:21
  • definitely possible as long as you have enough time and knowledge. People have done upgrades in far more difficult situations
    – phuclv
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 6:02

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