Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

yesterday I "inherited" an ancient debian 3.1 machine to which I am supposed to add a few functionalities (mail, among them)

is there a safe way to upgrade it to a superior version ? if not, is there a repository for its debs ?

share|improve this question
VEry very old question, but using apt-get dist-upgrade you can update your distro one major version at a time all the way to 8.x, assuming your hardware can handle. – Shadur Apr 28 at 17:21
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Sarge is no longer receiving security updates. There are security issues that will not have been patched on sarge. If the machine is available on the Internet, you should strongly consider to upgrading to at least etch, and preferably lenny. If it isn't obvious make a backup first.

You should be able to upgrade, but not directly. You'll need to go from sarge->etch->lenny. Since it is remote you'll want to make sure they hardware will be supported in the newer OS.

You can use this in your /etc/apt/sources.list if you really want to continue to use sarge for right now.

deb sarge main
deb-src sarge main
share|improve this answer
most probably I'll use the repositories you listed above and use the machine as it is, with a strict-to-paranoid firewall; it is good that I don't need to compile from sources the few apps I have to install thanks – petre Sep 23 '09 at 21:45

There are some "archive" servers. You could of course dist-upgrade it to etch, then dist-upgrade etch to lenny, but it's a bit of a stretch. You'd better make a list of installed packages with

dpkg --get-selection > packlist

saving /etc and other data files, then install a new lenny and reinstall additional packages with

dpkg --set-selection && aptitude dselect-upgrade
share|improve this answer
Depending on the number of applications installed, going Sarge -> Etch -> Lenny may be the best option. Some applications had quite a few changes between Sarge and Etch, and again through Etch / Lenny. – Ryaner Sep 23 '09 at 20:26
the machine is remote, quite far away and I would like to do it all via ssh (laziness is a killer, I know) and for the time being reinstalling is out of the question maybe sarge - etch - lenny is the way, maybe I'll simulate it on a vmachine and keep you informed, if nobody has a firm answer meanwhile, I'm trying to find those archive servers – petre Sep 23 '09 at 20:40

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.