Debian 8.0 Jessie Released – Fresh Installation Guide and Upgrade Debian Wheezy to Jessie

Upgrading from Debian 7 (Wheezy) to Debian 8 (Jessie)

For those wishing to upgrade from Wheezy, the process is very simple but does take a while depending on the connection speed to the Internet. An upgrade the other day took about an hour due to slow download speeds from the Debian US repository, likely because a lot of people are upgrading at the moment.

The first step before the upgrade is to back up any important data! While this is often unnecessary, the one time that a backup isn’t made, something will fail and brick the system. If a backup/tar file can be made, it is strongly recommended before continuing.

Disclaimers out of the way, let’s begin the upgrade process. Personally, recommend that the current system be completely updated before attempting a distribution upgrade but this is likely unnecessary.

To completely update the system issue the following command as root or with the ‘sudo‘ utility:

# apt-get update; apt-get upgrade 

Once this finishes, it is time to do is prepare the system to look at the new repositories for ‘Jessie‘. Assuming a standard /etc/apt/sources.list file, the following sed command can be used to replace all entries for ‘Wheezy‘ with ‘Jessie‘:

# sed -i.bak 's/wheezy/jessie/g' /etc/apt/sources.list

The result of the above command will change all ‘Wheezy‘ entries in the /etc/apt/sources.list file to ‘Jessie‘ as seen in the below screen shots.

Original /etc/apt/sources.list

Debian Wheezy Sources List

Debian Wheezy Sources List

Sed command to modify all instances of ‘wheezy‘ to ‘jessie

# sed -i.bak 's/wheezy/jessie/g' /etc/apt/sources.list
Sed: Wheezy to Jessie Change

Sed: Wheezy to Jessie Change

Newly modified /etc/apt/sources.list file.

Debian Jessie Sources List

Debian Jessie Sources List

The next step now is to refresh the list of packages available for installation. This is easily accomplished with one of two commands:

# apt-get update
# aptitude update

Either command will work here, however many people suggest sticking to aptitude for a full distribution upgrade like this tutorial covers. Regardless, once the utilities have updated the list of packages, it is time to start the upgrade process. This is accomplished with one of two commands:

# apt-get dist-upgrade
# aptitude full-upgrade

Again most people will suggest aptitude for this process due to its supposed ability to better resolve dependencies. I’ve run both methods so far and the only difference noted was that aptitude was able to fully upgrade everything where apt-get only upgraded enough to reboot into Debian 8 and then upgrade the rest of the system. Not sure if this is normal behavior for apt-get or not but both methods ultimately did work as intended.

No matter which method chosen, the process will take some time. Internet connection speed will play a large role in the upgrade as the upgrade will require about a Gigabyte or more of new packages to be downloaded.

Depending on the system’s configuration and installed packages there may be some prompts that require user intervention. Libc, libpam, and libssl are all ones that were hit for the Wheezy upgrade for this article. The installer will allow the services to be restarted as needed if the user chooses.

Configuring libc in Debian Jessie

Configuring libc in Debian Jessie

As with the fresh install, it is suggested that the user let the system run the upgrade and periodically check in on it as this process will take some time. When it finishes, simply reboot the machine and enjoy Debian 8 in all of its wonder!.

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Rob Turner

Rob Turner is an avid Debian user as well as many of the derivatives of Debian such as Devuan, Mint, Ubuntu, and Kali. Rob holds a Masters in Information and Communication Sciences as well as several industry certifications from Cisco, EC-Council, ISC2, Linux Foundation, and LPI.

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4 Responses

  1. Ram says:

    Install the GRUB boot loader on a hard disk failed

  2. kundan kumar says:

    what will happen if i choose not to use network mirror? if i have no internet connection? why would i get stucked on ” failed to start braille device support ” ?

    • Rob Turner says:


      Without a network mirror, you will have to provide all the extra packages for Debian manually. I would strongly recommend you use a network mirror. As for why the braille device would fail to start, I am not sure without seeing log information. If you’re not using a network mirror, there is a possibility that a necessary package is missing from your installation as well.

  3. David says:

    Installing Debian 8 Jessie in VMware Workstation Video

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