Linux Mint Debian Sid Edition (Mint Rolling Release-ish)

In the ol’ So, what’s your Linux week been like? thread I was inspired to try out Debian Sid and I posted about an experiment I thought would be cool where I used the Debian edition of Linux Mint and replaced the repositories with the unstable Debian Sid repos. So far it’s been fun to see what kind of breakage would occur. This is what I love about Linux. Trying something out, no matter how ridiculous, and learning as you go.

If you want to follow along on this journey of pain, follow these steps:

I have no idea how stable this is (on a scale from 0 to -10), so don’t try this on any machine you don’t want broken

Step 1:

Change the default software sources. Navigate to /etc/apt make copies of sources.list and sources.list.d and keep them somewhere safe in the event that you want to revert any changes. Comment out any lines in sources.list by typing a # at the beginning of the lines. Use any text editor you’re comfortable with. Add the following lines

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian sid main contrib non-free
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian sid main contrib non-free
deb http://packages.linuxmint.com debbie main upstream import backport #id:linuxmint_main

This will pull in packages from the unstable branch of Debian and some packages from the Mint team itself. I thought it was best to keep that one in there so any Mint specific software will be updated.
Inside the /etc/apt/sources.list.d folder is a file called official-package-repositories.list I just commented out ALL the lines in this file. Eventually I’ll find out this is bad or something but I’ll keep you posted. So far so good.

Step 2:

Update the system. This took a combination of sudo apt update and sudo apt dist-upgrade and sudo apt install -f basically run the dist-upgrade until it stops and complains then run install -f. Rinse and repeat. I found this to work perfectly fine until a reboot when all the new changes kick in.

You may have to redo some of the previous steps after upgrading completely.

Step 3:

Apt will now complain that the OS “code name” is not a valid Linux Mint version. On Mint, the version information is found in a file located at /etc/lsb-release and Debian keeps this same information in a file /etc/os-release The information conflicts and Apt doesn’t like it. So you can modify the /etc/os-release file by changing the line VERSION_CODENAME=bullseye to VERSION_CODENAME=debbie OR just rename the file altogether, maybe delete it, I don’t know. This is just a test so everything is kind of a guess right now. Anyways, this should get Apt working again.

Step 4:

Software Sources will no longer launch. Either directly from the Mint menu or from the menu in Synaptic Package Manager. Running Synaptic from the terminal showed me that there was a problem with a python file. This problem is due to the newer version of Python that Sid uses. Some Python methods are deprecated and outright removed from this version (3.9). To get this fixed up open the file /usr/lib/linuxmint/mintSources/CountryInformation.py. On line 34 there is a method call for getiterator. This method has been removed in Python 3.9. Mint has Python 3.8.5 currently so this still works in normal cases. Simply replace getiterator with iter and leave everything else alone! Save the file, you’ll now find the software sources application runs as normal.

It turns out that the Mint team actually made this change themselves just 16 days ahead of me HERE. So I know I’m on the right track with that at least. They’re preparing for the jump to Python 3.9 so I’ll be checking github when I run into more problems.

Happy tinkering! More bugs to come!

BUG - System Reports will notify about language packs and prompt to install them. The install will immediately fail with an “unhandleable error” Currently no solution to this but it’s a python thing I think.

4 Likes

I tried Debian Sid a few times as an experiment several years ago. I was finding it broke every few months. I didn’t know enough back then to keep it as my daily driver, and still don’t know enough to. Apparently it’s “fairly stable” as far as Linux distros go - which doesn’t say much in favour of other distros in my opinion as I’m more used to Debian Stable which really is solid and definitely my preference above any other distro I’ve tried :slight_smile:

I definitely think Sid is worth trying for fun, in a VM, for example, or on bare metal if it can be backed-up regularly and rolled-back if it breaks.

You could try Siduction. I don’t know how they do things but if they managed to get security updates into Siduction faster than Sid itself I would probably use it for a while.

repo hopping = next level

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Siduction is great but I find they add too much to the base Debian sid system. They roll their own kernel, pull some minor extra stuff and some fixes if sid is caught by some bugs. It is great to just get started with Debian unstable but personally I just prefer plain Debian. Install the base and then change the sources. You will get a leaner system.

Actually what you have done here with Linux Mint was once a very popular thing even on their forums. I guess now everybody is on Arch. But it is and always was easier to do unstable with vanilla Debian because all other derivatives with their own repos at some point would create issues and breakage.
And there are no security updates in sid, you get upstream packages with their fixes. That is why there is no security repo for unstable. You usually do not get a patch, you get the newer fixed version.

Now what I would add to your modified Mint is apt-listbugs.

Nice one, I’ve added apt-listbugs and it lists NO bugs. That’s gotta be a bug in itself! I managed to cause a regression with my tinkering and I don’t know where to fix that. But it’s barely noticeable.

I’ve been going through the gauntlet of lean OS’s lately. Artix, Venom, Void… They all have really nice installers but they’re a little bit too lean right off the bat, it takes hours to get it properly usable. I do like their lean init systems though. On Hard Drives, like all my systems still have, you really feel the init system.

Right now Debian is in freeze and no real bugs are expected but once the release got out the gates will be open and then apt-listbugs could be your life saver because then Debian sid will be again a real rolling release.

Tell me about the regression. Maybe we can find a fix.