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Copying Debian package selections to a new machine

Oct 05, 2010, 06:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ryan Cartwright)

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"Most of us will install our GNU/Linux system once or twice and then use the excellent package management systems to upgrade when new releases of our chosen distribution come out. Users of Debian and Debian-based systems (such as Ubuntu) will be quite used to the idea that you only need to install it once. But what happens when you want to replicate one Debian system on another machine? Do you use cloning tools? Yes you can but only if the hardware is similar on the two machines. What if one has an Intel Pentium-based processor and the other has an AMD64? In that case what you need is some way to replicate the package selection but use the appropriate ones for the new architecture. Enter dpkg.

"dpkg? dpkg is one of the core applications of Debian and essential to its package management. Whatever you use to manage packages will in fact use dpkg in the background to install, remove, upgrade and handle post-installation processes. So whether you use apt, aptitude, synaptic or one of the others, chances are dpkg is involved somewhere. It has some nice features but, to be honest, is cumbersome for day to day use which is why there are clients on top of it. In particular dpkg does nothing about dependencies - leaving that to apt or whatever you use. It's a shell-based tool so if you consider yourself to be part of what some people refer to as "the rest of us", you might have to get you hands onto the keyboard more than you are used to. I'm afraid there isn't really a point and click version of this but the process I'm describing is not complex. It just involves typing."

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