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Lubuntu 32 bit linux is End of Life: https://l.me/sunsetting-i386/

Debian continues to be a basic reliable distro for 32 bit CPU's Since Lubuntu is based on Ubuntu/Debian it is possible to 'upgrade' to a vanilla Debian install from inside the lubuntu ? And if so what are the steps to convert a lubuntu install to a vanilla Debian install?

I imagine it would be

  1. Back up existing system
  2. Create a list then removing all lubuntu apps that depend on Xorg or use GUI.
  3. change /etc/apt directory
  4. Install debian base packages and kernel
  5. manually update grub
  6. reboot ? Has anyone tried this? Thanks in advance
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  • how complicated is this process? Do you need to replicate over several instances?
    – mario ruiz
    Oct 28 '20 at 18:22
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    Hello. Why a clean install is not an option if you backup your files and remove apps anyway? Especially if you say that you want a vanilla Debian install. Oct 28 '20 at 18:42
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    I'm actually trying (a simpler version of) this on a VM. So far it looks - surprisingly - promising. apt-get dist-upgrade is only removing 15 packages and they didn't even look that important. I do not recommend doing this, it will probably end horribly. This is also a freshly installed and updated Lubuntu 18.04.
    – Oskar Skog
    Oct 28 '20 at 19:20
  • @OskarSkog can you list the steps you used or are trying? Thanks
    – turtle
    Oct 28 '20 at 19:25
  • @turtle: I scp'd Debian's /etc/apt/sources.list and concatenated it with Lubuntu's. And the files in /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d from Debian were added. Then just a apt-get update; apt-get dist-upgrade. Later I will remove Ubuntu's repositories and compare the system to the host system. I'll write it as an answer when I get the results, but I still won't recommend it.
    – Oskar Skog
    Oct 28 '20 at 19:29
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No, you can't.

There is no "upgrade-path" from ubuntu to debian. update-paths only exist from one debian or ubuntu to another, newer one. debian one version by another, ubuntu also but with the exception that you can skip version between the LTS-Versions (you can upgrade an ubuntu 18.04 to 18.10 or 20.04 but not 18.10 to 20.04 without the steps 19.04 and 19.10). Sometimes distributors provide different upgrade-paths like the upgrade of debian 7 and debian 8 to devuan 1. Some other distributions like all RedHat (and CentOS, Oracle Linux) don't even provide upgrade-paths their own distributions (you cannot upgrade a RedHat 7 to 8).

In your case, the best would be to backup your home-directory, make a fresh installation of Debian and put the contents of your home-directory back. Depending on the age of your lubuntu-installation, this should also work with most of the configurations like browser-profiles. I wouldn't recommend this when your lubuntu is newer than the targeted debian (e.g. keeping the home-directory when you come from lubuntu 18.04 to debian 10 should work, coming from 20.04 probably not)

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I actually tried it. The simple answer is that you can't.

You should really consider Roman's comment

Why a clean install is not an option if you backup your files and remove apps anyway? Especially if you say that you want a vanilla Debian install.

A good reason to not even try to "convert" Lubuntu to Debian is that any package that only Ubuntu has (or uses the distribution's version number instead of it's own) will never be upgraded. This is a potential security risk and you may not even be aware what packages are no longer getting updates because Debian either don't have them (with the exact name, or thinks they are very new).

The long answer is that it appears to kind of work with some manual labor to just add Debian's repositories, update everything, remove Ubuntu's repositories and update everything again. A few things fail: plymouth had to be removed and linux-image-686-pae and linux-headers-686-pae had to be manually installed. Having to manually install the correct kernel suggests that there may be other things missing.

A comment on 32-bit support in Debian

Debian uses the name "i386" for the architecture of packages, the name hasn't been updated but the minimum required CPU has. Keep an eye on ArchitectureSpecificsMemo if you have a really old computer, I wouldn't trust apt to test if your computer will support the newer packages when upgrading.

Not all packages obey this. One example would be pypy which assumes SSE2 is supported and it actually uses /usr/bin/pypy in the post-install and the pre-uninstall script causing it to be a PITA to remove if an installation was ever attempted.

But I think you're more likely to just have too little RAM to do anything graphical.

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