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Debian Upgrade Problems

I decided after a few problems that I would not upgrade my Debian machines from wheezy to jessie. jessie appears to be more oriented towards workstations, and the decision to set systemd as the only realistic boot loader in jessie caused concerns.

One of our technicians upgraded a Debian Wheezy Xen DOM0 in early fall of 2017, and while it rebooted, it could no longer run hardware virtualized machines (hvm's). I was called in to solve the issue and failed.

Finally, after deciding the only solution was a complete reinstall, I decided to test out the devuan distribution (, which was created to develop a systemd free alternative to Debian. Within an hour, the system was up and running.

Following are my notes on how this was accomplished. Most were taken from

  1. update the server as best you can (I often bypass this)
  2. Modify /etc/apt/sources.list to reflect devuan's repositories
    1. Set up the devuan keyring
  3. perform an update, then a dist-upgrade
  4. install qemu-system-x86
  5. edit all hvm domu configuration files to clean them up

Note that the step, install qemu-system-x86 is possibly the only fix that was necessary. I could still be running Debian Wheezy, probably. However, by upgrading to devuan, I get new kernel's and packages, and it was only after the upgrade I got useful error messages leading me to install this.

Upgrade server

Basically, do as you normally do. The system will be broken after this

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

Modify configuration to use Devuan

Edit /etc/apt/sources.list and remove all entries pointing to debian, then add the following lines (I remove them by commenting them out)

deb jessie main
deb jessie-updates main
deb jessie-security main

In most cases, these should be the only lines in sources.list

Now, import the devuan keyring

apt-get update && apt-get install devuan-keyring -y --allow-unauthenticated

Perform the dist upgrade

apt-get update -y
apt-get dist-upgrade

The -y is needed or it will complain about the keyring the first time.

reboot the system


get qemu-system-x86

Appearently, someone has broken the qemu system into pieces in this upgrade. Good idea; if you are only going to use paravirtualized domu's, there is no need for it. But, if you are using hardware virtualized, this is what makes it work.

apt-get install qemu-system-x86

fix all hvm config files

The configuration options for hvm's has changed, with many not being used. In /etc/xen, there is a sample for hvm's which will help a lot, however the following is a quick and dirty list.

  • replace device_model line with device_model_version='qemu-xen'
  • comment out the line beginning with kernel if you have it
  • set builder=“hvm”

Again, read the sample conf, but basically, remove anything not needed.

Upgrade Jessie to ASCII

Just a note on how to upgrade jessie to ascii (devuan)

deb ascii main
deb ascii-updates main
deb ascii-security main
deb ascii-backports main
apt-get upgrade devuan-keyring
apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade
unix/linux/debian/upgradeproblems.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/28 01:09 by rodolico