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We encountered many issues with Ubuntu 12.04 not being stable enough and having bugs unfixed, or ubuntu dependencies not being as good as the Debian one.

All of our clients are using Ubuntu 12.04 32 bits and we decided to find an alternative to replace Ubuntu before the LTS expires.

Which alternative?

We decided to choose Debian for the following reason:

  • More stable than Ubuntu as doesn't have the extra layers of the latest
  • Not loaded with all the extra software
  • Doesn't have any commercial direction
  • Supports LTSP
  • Our team is used to Debian's way
  • Our server run Debian

32 bits vs 64

Our servers run 64 bit version of Debian but we need to see if all software are compatible.

Stable, Testing or Unstable

  • For Services, Community: Testing and Stable (When testing becomes Stable)
  • For BlueLight team: Testing and Unstable (for anticipating the development made for Testing)
We choose Testing as it is in any case more stable than Ubuntu and has it allows us to use the latest 'close to stable' version.
Using Testing will allow us to work on the coming version of Debian and therefore foresee the possible problems. It will allow us to test in advance the stable to come and be prepared at the time the release come.
To move from stable to testing replace in sources.list stable by testing then do:


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


We might need to use backport for the kernel when the hardware is not detected by the default kernel.

Migrating from Ubuntu to Debian


  1. People are now used to have the close, minimize, maximize buttons on the left
  2. People are used to the launcher
  3. People are used to firefox, thunderbird and chrome


  1. Use tweaks to make the system look like unity, get the users used to the left buttons even if not handy
  2. Gnome 3 has a similar launcher
  3. icedwisel, icedove and chromium just have different icons than their homologous


For thunderbird install, use the mint deb if necessary:

Find out the fastest mirrors

Trying to get Testing installed I realized it would take me hours as it depends on the connection to the mirror.

In order to select the best mirror do the following from a Debian machine (A source list will be copied to your home directory):

su -
apt-get install netselect-apt
mv /etc/apt/sources.list{,.bak}
cp ~/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list
apt-get update

Here is the result from 2014/01/04 in BlueLight:

# Debian packages for stable
deb stable main contrib
# Uncomment the deb-src line if you want 'apt-get source'
# to work with most packages.
# deb-src stable main contrib

# Security updates for stable
deb stable/updates main contrib 


IN order to avoid surprises (smile) we will use the distribution name instead of stable

# Debian packages for stable
 deb wheezy main contrib
# Uncomment the deb-src line if you want 'apt-get source'
# to work with most packages.
# deb-src wheezy main contrib

# Security updates for stable
deb wheezy/updates main contrib 


Use deb wheezy main contrib

From Thunderbird to Icedove

for each user

mv ~/.icedove{,-org}
mv ~/.thunderbird ~/.icedove 

Extra packages

apt-get install sudo rsync vlc audacious emacs23-nox ssh icedove chromium gnome-tweak-tool flashplugin-nonfree python-software-properties file-roller gedit telepathy-gabble

Remove packages

apt-get remove imagemagick
apt-get autoremove 


Changing the appearance

Adding the Ubuntu 12.04 icons and cursors

rsync -av root@ /usr/share/icons/
rsync -av root@ /usr/share/icons/


Delete in Nautilus

edit ~/.config/nautilus/accels, search for the line:

; (gtk_accel_path "<Actions>/DirViewActions/Trash" "<Primary>Delete")

uncomment and change to:

(gtk_accel_path "<Actions>/DirViewActions/Trash" "Delete")



Desktop Environment comparaison

We decided to offer choices to users in order for the choose the most convenient desktop.

Install Enlightenment

aptitude install e17 e17-modules


Desktop sharing

Debian Jessie comes with a Desktop sharing embeded.

To activate it go to Settings > Sharing > Screen Sharing

On the client side use vinagre.


Future of GNOME

Here you will find apps developed for Gnome that will make it even more comfortable to use:


Alternatives to Software Center

deepin software-center


Software Manager

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:appgrid/stable sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install appgrid

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