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The official recommendation of Ubuntu is to use sudo do-release-upgrade to do an online upgrade from one version to the next. Historically many of my Debianite friends and myself have simply altered apt's sources.list and run apt-get dist-upgrade.

I follow Ubuntu's recommendations, but I've always wondered what the magic difference between these two processes is. What, exactly, does do-release-upgrade do, on say an upgrade from 9.04 to 9.10? (Examples from other releases welcome.)

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do-release-upgrade is a Python script and it makes use of other Python files in /usr/share/pyshared/DistUpgrade. If you look at those, you'll get an idea what it's doing.

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I checked, and unlike I was expecting, it's fairly self-documenting. There's a bundle of python scripts, and they do things like fix Xorg configs and changes the desktop theme for users. About the only relevant server thing I found was an apt autoinst fixup. –  jldugger Apr 2 '10 at 5:32
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