How to convert Debian or Ubuntu to Devuan (Vim3 and perhaps others)

Some people prefer Devuan over Debian, Ubuntu or other .deb based distribubtions.

The following procedure is what i use to convert Debian or Ubuntu to Devuan. The procedure is slightly modified from the standard Devuan conversion.

WARNING: This might make your existing installation unbootable! Backup your OS installation first if there is anything in it that you need to preserve.

I performed this on several computers including the VIM3 EMMC running the VIMx.Debian.9.stretch.server.kernel-5.5.X.mainline.emmc.kresq image.

Boot to your Debian/Ubuntu image.

If you are using GNOME, you should install a fallback window manager for the migration. For example:

  • root@debian:~# apt-get install xfce4 slim

Set the session manager to startxfce4 so that the new desktop can be used later.

  • root@debian:~# update-alternatives --config x-session-manager

You should use Ethernet for a reliable migration. You can apt-get install wicd later to manage wifi connections without network-manager.

  • root@debian:~# update-rc.d -f network-manager remove
  • root@debian:~# /etc/init.d/network-manager stop

Enable your ethernet if not done already. If your network has no DHCP you can ifconfig eth0 and route add default gw [your gateway address].

  • root@debian:~# ifup eth0

Devuan uses sysvinit by default so we will install this now.

  • root@debian:~# apt-get install sysvinit-core

A reboot is required to switch sysvinit to pid1 so we can remove systemd.

  • root@debian:~# reboot

We can now remove systemd without any complaints.

  • root@debian:~# apt-get purge systemd

Edit the sources.list file so that we can switch to the Devuan repositories. [vim/joe/nano editor]

  • root@debian:~# vim /etc/apt/sources.list

I use the Devuan mirrors with the ceres branch name. Comment out any other lines.
deb ceres main contrib non-free
#deb-src main contrib non-free

Alternatively you can use ASCII relase, which matches Debian release Stretch
deb ascii main
deb ascii-updates main
deb ascii-security main
deb ascii-backports main

Update the package indexes so we can install the Devuan archive keyring.

  • root@debian:~# apt-get update

Install the Devuan keyring so packages can be authenticated from this point onwards. [I think there are more secure ways to do this to ensure a verified keyring]

  • root@debian:~# apt-get install devuan-keyring --allow-unauthenticated

Update the package indexes again so that they are authenticated with the keyring.

  • root@debian:~# apt-get update

Upgrade packages to Devuan.

  • root@debian:~# apt-get dist-upgrade

Systemd components should now be removed from the system.

  • root@devuan:~# apt-get purge systemd-shim

If you want to run a more minimal system you can optionally remove some more

  • apt purge libsystemd0.
  • apt purge dbus-x11
  • apt purge pulseaudio

Also consider purging Xfce and installing OpenBox instead.
I have found performance and stability regressions with recent Xfce.

After I have a basic running image, i use the wonderful Khadas rescue tool to backup my installation before adding much extra software.


@clort76 great tutorial, looks really simple, will try it out :slightly_smiling_face: