It was suggested to update my Debian Squeeze kernel to something more recent. We chose 2.6.38 and used Debian Backports to install linux-image-2.6.38-bpo.2-amd64 following these instructions summarized below.

nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the line below to the bottom of the file.

deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports squeeze-backports main

Update repositories

apt-get update

Install the backport and the kernel.

apt-get install -t squeeze-backports linux-image-2.6.38-bpo.2-amd64

Rebooted and voila! - system showing that is is running 2.6.38.

Now, a few days later, I do a

aptitude update
aptitude safe-upgrade

And get the following:

  The following packages will be upgraded: 
  aptitude base-files ca-certificates grub-common libgssapi-krb5-2 libgssrpc4 libk5crypto3 libkadm5clnt-mit7 
  libkadm5srv-mit7 libkdb5-4 libkrb5-3 libkrb5support0 libpcap0.8 libssl0.9.8 linux-image-2.6.32-5-amd64 
  openssh-client openssh-server openssl tzdata usbutils 
The following packages are RECOMMENDED but will NOT be installed:
  apt-xapian-index aptitude-doc-cs aptitude-doc-en aptitude-doc-es aptitude-doc-fi aptitude-doc-fr 
  aptitude-doc-ja firmware-linux-free libparse-debianchangelog-perl 
20 packages upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 39.8 MB of archives. After unpacking 3,830 kB will be freed.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n/?]

Is aptitude is trying to go back to the old linux-image?

current sources.list is pretty standard:

deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ squeeze main
deb-src http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ squeeze main

deb http://security.debian.org/ squeeze/updates main
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ squeeze/updates main

deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ squeeze-updates main
deb-src http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ squeeze-updates main
deb http://packages.dotdeb.org stable all

deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports squeeze-backports main

Not really, as far as I can tell. Aptitude seems to be telling you it'll install a new revision of the 2.6.32 kernel you still have installed, but that doesn't mean it'll make it the active version (the one you get by default when booting). You can confirm this by installing the suggested package and then looking at your /boot/grub/menu.lst file.

If you're sure you won't ever go back to 2.6.32 you can remove those packages by the regular means. Something like this:

apt-get remove linux-image-2.6.32.*

Be careful of any unexpected warnings, of course.

Note that you can use apt pinning to handle the backports more comfortably/safely without having to use the -t parameter to apt-get/aptitude.

In your case I'd try something like this (untested):

Package: linux-image
Pin: release a=squeeze-backports
Pin-Priority: 800

Package: *
Pin: release a=stable
Pin-Priority: 700

Package: *
Pin: release a=testing
Pin-Priority: 650

Package: *
Pin: release a=unstable
Pin-Priority: 600
  • What would the preferences look like? Package: linux-image* Pin: release a=squeeze-backports Pin-Priority: 700 Package: * Pin: release a=stable Pin-Priority: 650 – jimg Oct 12 '11 at 15:46
  • See the update, I'd try something like that. – Eduardo Ivanec Oct 12 '11 at 15:49
  • See actual sources.list - wouldn't the above ignore the squeeze-updates (dot-deb), squeeze (debian) & squeeze/updates (debian) ? – jimg Oct 12 '11 at 16:46
  • Did some light searching and apparently all the non-listed sources default to priority 500. Do note that stable currently means squeeze, so that's contemplated in the pinning. Perhaps squeeze-updates also get associated with stable, but I'm not sure. – Eduardo Ivanec Oct 13 '11 at 14:43
  • You can use apt-cache policy packagename at any time to see the available versions of a package and which APT would choose by default using your pinning preferences. – Eduardo Ivanec Oct 13 '11 at 14:44

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