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Debian: dist-upgrade Sarge to Etch to Lenny

Note that this should only be done over single releases (ie don't go from Sarge straight to Lenny)

On Debian?  What does cat /etc/debian_version say?

3.0 is Woody
3.1 is Sarge
4.0 is Etch
5.0 is Lenny

If you want to dist-upgrade to Etch use something like this for your /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian etch main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org etch/updates main contrib non-free

Or normally the following will work...

sed --in-place 's/^\([^#].*debian-non-US\)/#\1/g' /etc/apt/sources.list
sed --in-place 's/sarge/etch/g'  /etc/apt/sources.list

Then run...

# to minimize all those tedious 'are you sure'? messages.
export DEBIAN_PRIORITY=critical
export DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive

# run the dist upgrade
apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade

We have run this a few times on VPS'.  And the process seems pretty safe/hassle free.

If you get errors like these...

WARNING: The following packages cannot be authenticated!
  libruby1.8 ruby1.8 ruby
Install these packages without verification [y/N]? 

... run ...

gpg --keyserver pgpkeys.mit.edu --recv-key 2D230C5F
gpg -a --export 2D230C5F | apt-key add -
apt-get update

Rinse and repeat for each version you need to upgrade to. You can always find the details on the latest stable release at http://www.debian.org/releases/stable/

As always, if you are not sure, feel free to get one of our staff to assist you by popping in a support ticket.