I want to upgrade my packages to newer versions but my server is still on lenny. I've read a bit that lenny-backports may come in help here. Could you please tell me what to do to upgrade to lenny-backports and if it can harm in any way the current packages and server overall? I just got really scared from reading upgrade notes for squeeze that I thought I would rather first try backports for safety.. hehe.


To "upgrade" (it's not really an upgrade, merely an augmentation) to use lenny-backports, follow the instructions at http://backports-master.debian.org/Instructions/ (it's targetted at squeeze, but replace 'squeeze' with 'lenny' and it'll all work nicely).

You really should at least start planning an upgrade to squeeze; lenny's security support won't last forever, and you'll likely find that plenty of things you want to upgrade haven't been backported.

  • I'm about to add deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports lenny-backports main to the sources.list but I noticed that other repositories there have like two lines for same thing just deb and deb-src like this: deb http://security.debian.org/ lenny/updates main contrib non-free deb-src http://security.debian.org/ lenny/updates main contrib non-free Do I need to do a similar thing for the lenny backports? I mean to add contrib non-free in the end and another line starting with deb-src?
    – Rihards
    Jul 5 '11 at 14:26
  • It depends on whether you want to get contrib and non-free backports.
    – womble
    Jul 5 '11 at 14:30
  • Should I? I also got this when running apt-get update: W: GPG error: backports.debian.org lenny-backports Release: The following signatures couldn't be verified because the public key is not available: NO_PUBKEY should i post it here? W: You may want to run apt-get update to correct these problems
    – Rihards
    Jul 5 '11 at 14:32
  • That's strange, the GPG signature of the backports archive should be the one used for the main archive. Is your debian-archive-keyring package up-to-date? (Version 2010.08.28)
    – womble
    Jul 5 '11 at 14:39
  • Follow here: serverfault.com/questions/287135/…
    – Rihards
    Jul 5 '11 at 14:44

Firstly, don't get scared by the upgrade notes. As usual, the Debian guys are very thorough and cover every conceivable angle. If you read the stuff carefully, you'll realize that most if it won't apply to you. But it IS a good idea to follow the general process. I have upgraded quite a few of our machines to squeeze (servers and desktops) and never had a problem with the basics.

However, if you want to try lenny-backports, that's not a problem either. Simply add the repositories to /etc/apt/sources.list and run apt-get update to retrieve the package information. Then decide which packages you want to have on the latest version and run apt-get install <package> to install the latest version.

Details can be found here.


You shouldn't have any trouble with Lenny backports. It's an officially supported mechanism, now.

All of the packages have been built against the original distribution, so you won't hit any dependency snags (You may find it makes you move to the latest Lenny package for some supporting libraries, but that's about it)

The instructions cover adding the right lines to your sources.list (I won't repeat them here.)

The only downsides are that only a small(ish) subset of common packages from the original distro will have a backport variant; and that the version you'll find there still might not be recent enough for you.

That said, the way you phrased your question suggests that you're just looking to do a general upgrade. The best advice I can give is to just stick with Lenny unless you specifically need a package variant that has some new feature you require. Lenny is still being supported, so you'll get all the security patches you need and you can take your time planning a move to squeeze.

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