As Devuan users have not been getting any feedback for why have things become so stale for two months, there are no updates seen in Jessie or Ascii, while the Debian train is running away with a daily influx of updated packages, there is not much convinvcing anyone can do for people to be patient. Having bugs to deal with is one thing, not having bugs and expecting things to just evolve is a different issue. So I thought what if?
What if questions sometimes break the best of systems. So I cleaned my ascii installation and backed it up (using the classic dd on the installation’s partition). If it broke I would not try to fix it too much, I’d rather just restore it and report back how and when it broke so others wouldn’t try the same thing.
What if one was to add debian repositories to ascii and see what can be updated. But which repositories out of the three would you use? Ascii is parallel to stretch. Buster would be parallel to beowulf in the future, but beowulf does not exist yet. Ceres is parallel to sid. So the logical thing would be to add Stretch, right? Not good enough for my reckless temperament. I went straight to buster, or Debian testing.
The first thing would be to pick the repositories straight from the current debian site. There is security, buster, and updates. Something along the deb.debian.org lines or whatever is closest to you. On the first try you will notice that the release files are rejected because you don’t have the right gpg-keys to validate them. So you need to run these instructions for getting the keys.
$gpg –keyserver pgpkeys.mit.edu –recv-key 8B48AD6246925553
$gpg -a –export 8B48AD6246925553 | sudo apt-key add –
$gpg –keyserver pgpkeys.mit.edu –recv-key 7638D0442B90D010
$gpg -a –export 7638D0442B90D010 | sudo apt-key add –
I believe the one is for security the other for the rest of the repositories.
After you run $apt update, even though your Devuan is current, a whole bunch of packages would list as upgradeable. If you just hit $apt upgrade it will probably warn you of broken packages. The first one to notice, if you have used it from devuan-experimental, is eudev. It is a replacement for udev (devuan’s edition) which I believe it was ported from Gentoo by the Refracta team. If you are not careful and you have udev it may get upgraded and that will probably break your system as it brings all kinds of systemd dependencies. In this case it is a rare moment where synaptic shines. You can mark all that can be upgraded and go to special filters –> broken. Unmark all the packages that can be upgraded and create a break. In my case they were three.
On the next step run a search for packages having the name Debian on the description. Unmark them, except for the ones you are sure they wouldn’t affect anything. Then run a search for Devuan, and most of the packages that were specifically reconfigured by Devuan to run should not be replaced by Debian packages. You can tell easily by the version code/number which has a -devuan- tag in it. This still left 100s of packages to be upgraded. I have a simple installation with LXDE and Openbox desktop.
I did this being 90% sure that it will break the system. The surprise was that it didn’t. Even though I was sloppy and didn’t carefully select out all I suspected that would break the system. I rebooted and pretty much everything I have in the installation still worked.
WARNING: This does not mean it will work on your specific installation, it may and probably will not work if I do it again in a few days, and it is almost certain that eventually such practice will result in brick-ing the system. And just because programs start and run doesn’t mean they will not crash at a certain condition. So, this experiment is asking for problems when it is not at all necessary.
BUT! If you are really desperate in getting the updated version of a specific package you really need, especially if it is not a core system necessity, THIS is the way to do it. Then comment out the debian repositories on your /etc/apt/sources.list and reupdate devuan to dump all the Debian package lists from your cache.
So now I have a freaky monstrous hybrid of Debuan-Devian installation with a look at the near future. No big deal, in most cases most of us can not even tell whatever changed in each update unless we really are involved in its current status, bugs, and wishlists.
After all, Devuan is Debian without systemd. What was really interesting was that sysvinit in buster is a newer edition than it is on Devuan. If you have recently tried to install it in Debian you realize how hard, and I believe impossible, is to make it work and de-throning systemd.
Anyway, don’t try such things at home needlessly! It takes about 40′ to backup a partition with my slow machine and about as much to restore it. So if you have a good three hours to mess with things you may want to do such experiments. But what is the value of all this experimentation? An unsubstantiated need to see constant updates on your system.
Edit: Saturday the 14th of October
Someone asked in the Dev1 forum how would it be possible to add Firefox 56 into Devuan and I suggested the Debian-Sid repository.
To prove that this is possible I went and installed it, although I wasn’t using FF in Devuan (Miyo-Linux to be specific). So here is my screenshot with the firefox-about window, my terminal showing system and kernel, and my openbox in the background 🙂