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

Retaining SysV as the init System

Subject to much to debate is Debian’s decision to push systemd out as the default init system now. Personally, I like Sysv and had several customizations that I wanted to keep. There are several ways to keep Sysv as the init system and they will be detailed out here for those interested.

The first method is for those who wish to install Debian 8 as a fresh install but rather with Sysv as the init system. The first and easiest option is to simply follow the fresh installation process here and then when the system reboots into Debian, run a few commands from the command line.

A word of caution though, depending upon what other packages were installed, these commands may remove other things as well! Systemd has several things that depend on it and if Systemd is remove, then these other packages will be removed as well.

Please do some research before running these commands! The one that sticks out is Gnome desktop environment. It does require several things from Systemd and removing Systemd will break the new version. However, cinnamon has been tested with this and successfully worked.

# apt-get purge systemd
# apt-get install sysvinit-core 

This will remove Systemd and install Sysv as the init system. Rebooting will show that Sysv now handles the booting process.

Jessie Booting Sysv

Jessie Booting Sysv

The other option for a fresh install with Sysv (assuming the desktop environment chosen doesn’t need Systemd) is to preseed an apt command at boot time to install Sysv. This is done by hitting tab when the Debian splash screen appears. Then at the end of the kernel boot line add the following:

preseed/late_command="in-target apt-get install -y sysvinit-core"

If all goes well, the system should install as normal and then run the apt-get command to install Sysv over Systemd. If it doesn’t work, the user can always resort back to the apt commands above as well when the system reboots.

For those upgrading from Wheezy and wishing to not have Systemd installed, the following worked for my upgrade using the older gnome desktop. First a file was created in ‘/etc/apt/preferences.d‘ called use-sysvinit. Modify this file ( nano /etc/apt/preferences.d/use-sysvinit ).

# nano /etc/apt/preferences.d/use-sysvinit

and add the following:

Package: systemd-sysv 
Pin: release o=Debian 
Pin-Priority: -1

At this point the rest of the upgrade was the same as a normal upgrade from Wheezy in the above section. This method was also tested and worked. There were a few pieces of Systemd left simply due to other dependencies with Gnome but the main init system was indeed Sysv on reboot.

Thank you for sticking through this lengthy installation guide and happy adventures in the new Debian 8 release!.

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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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