Debian: Move from buster (old testing) to bullseye (new testing)

Debian 10 “buster” was released and now it is “stable release”. Future “bullseye” release is now being developed and marked as “testing”. But we still stay on “buster” marked as “testing which is wrong.

See also: Debian: From stretch (old stable) to buster (new stable)

But in /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/99defaultrelease we have “testing” as our default release (If you have that file). This is why when apt update performed we can see the following error messages:

N: Repository ' buster InRelease' changed its 'Version' value from '' to '10.0'                                                                        
E: Repository ' buster InRelease' changed its 'Suite' value from 'testing' to 'stable'
N: This must be accepted explicitly before updates for this repository can be applied. See apt-secure(8) manpage for details.
Do you want to accept these changes and continue updating from this repository? [y/N]

It’s time to switch to new “bullseye” development branch. Open /etc/sources.list:

sudo apt edit-sources
# OR open sources.list directly:
nano /etc/apt/sources.list

We should see something like that:

deb buster main contrib non-free
deb-src buster main contrib non-free

deb buster/updates main
deb-src buster/updates main

Replace “buster” with “bullseye” and “bullseye-security” for security updates. Now it should look like the following way:

deb bullseye main contrib non-free
deb-src bullseye main contrib non-free

deb bullseye-security/updates main
deb-src bullseye-security/updates main

Update the system package database. New package versions will be available:

sudo apt update

Now it is possible to install new packages.

If we want to make full upgrade of the system perform distribution upgrade. Stop all the programs that can write important (for you) information to the disk, some system applications will stop by apt:

sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt dist-upgrade

Reboot the system. The system will start with new versions of the kernel and services.

If we don’t want to upgrade the whole system, we can update one package (it contains codename and version of the system):

sudo apt update
sudo apt install base-files

Then lsb_release -a will output fresh information:

lsb_release -a
Distributor ID:	Debian
Description:	Debian GNU/Linux bullseye/sid
Release:	testing
Codename:	bullseye


Add a Comment
  1. what about this part?

    # buster-updates, previously known as ‘volatile’
    deb buster-updates main contrib non-free
    deb-src buster-updates main contrib non-free


    1. I’m glad your comment glenn! I didn’t ask this question to myself and conducted my own investigation.
      You can replace “buster-updates” with “bullseye” or “bullseye-updates”. The difference between them is that “bullseye” contains the freshest packages in “testing” repository and “bullseye-updates” contains the packages that will be added in the future “bullseye” release (It will be Debian 11, the current stable release is 10). If you want to use the latest updates replace buster-updates with bullseye. After that use sudo apt update. If you want to upgrade the whole system (sudo upt upgrade) check for warning messages (if you have any). Be sure that there are no unsolvable dependencies and backup important information.

      Well, I’m just tried to switch between “bullseye” and “bullseye-updates” and there was no difference. Both there and there I have 248 packages available for updating. Maybe that I wrote above is correct only for “stable” and “oldstable” releases.
      Also when I tried to use “bullseye-updates” there was an error. In the past I have created /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/99defaultrelease with ‘ APT::Default-Release “testing”; ‘ inside.
      It allows me to not mix “testing” and “unstable” and by that I can update separate packages from “unstable” repository.
      You can read about that here
      If you temporarily move this file, the error disappears (but it is still OK with “bullseye main contrib non-free”)

      1. Ok, thanks. Problem i have is the themes program would not run anymore. Also settings.

        1. Try apt-get check. It is a diagnostic tool. This will show all broken dependencies if you have any. In that case try to fix them by using apt-get install -f

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