Installing GNOME 3 on Debian 6.0 Squeeze? No, sorry

Ever since I blogged about the status of GNOME 3 in Debian experimental, my web logs show that many people are looking for ways to try out GNOME 3 with Debian Squeeze.

No GNOME 3 for Debian 6.0

Don’t hold your breath, it’s highly unlikely that anyone of the Debian GNOME team will prepare backports of GNOME 3 for Debian 6.0 Squeeze. It’s already difficult enough to do everything right in unstable with a solid upgrade path from the current versions in Squeeze…

But if you are brave enough to want to install GNOME 3 with Debian 6.0 on your machine then I would suggest that you’re the kind of person who should run Debian testing instead (or even Debian unstable, it’s not so horrible). That’s what most people who like to run recent versions of software do.

How to run Debian testing

You’re convinced and want to run Debian testing? It’s really easy, just edit your /etc/apt/sources.list and replace “stable” with “testing”. A complete file could look like this:

# Main repository
deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free
# Security updates
deb http://security.debian.org/debian-security testing main contrib non-free

Now you should be able to run apt-get dist-upgrade and end up with a testing system.

How to install GNOME 3 on Debian testing aka wheezy

If you want to try GNOME 3 before it has landed in testing, you’ll have to add unstable and experimental to your sources.list:

deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free
deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian experimental main contrib non-free

You should not install GNOME 3 from experimental if you’re not ready to deal with some problems and glitches. Beware: once you upgraded to GNOME 3 it will be next to impossible to go back to GNOME 2.32 (you can try it, but it’s not officially supported by Debian).

To avoid upgrading all your packages to unstable, you will tell APT to prefer testing with the APT::Default-Release directive:

# cat >/etc/apt/apt.conf.d/local <<END
APT::Default-Release "testing";
END

To allow APT to upgrade the GNOME packages to unstable/experimental, you will also install the following pinning file as /etc/apt/preferences.d/gnome:

Package: *gnome* libglib2.0* *vte* *pulse* *peas* libgtk* *gjs* *gconf* *gstreamer* alacarte *brasero* cheese ekiga empathy* gdm3 gcalctool baobab *gucharmap* gvfs* hamster-applet *nautilus* seahorse* sound-juicer *totem* remmina vino gksu xdg-user-dirs-gtk dmz-cursor-theme eog epiphany* evince* *evolution* file-roller gedit* metacity *mutter* yelp* rhythmbox* banshee* system-config-printer transmission-* tomboy network-manager* libnm-* update-notifier shotwell liferea *software-properties* libunique-3.0-0 libseed-gtk3-0 libnotify* libpanel-applet-4-0 libgdata11 libcamel* libcanberra* libchamplain* libebackend* libebook* libecal* libedata* libegroupwise* libevent* gir1.2-* libxklavier16 python-gmenu libgdict-1.0-6 libgdu-gtk0
Pin: release experimental
Pin-Priority: 990

Package: *gnome* libglib2.0* *vte* *pulse* *peas* libgtk* *gjs* *gconf* *gstreamer* alacarte *brasero* cheese ekiga empathy* gdm3 gcalctool baobab *gucharmap* gvfs* hamster-applet *nautilus* seahorse* sound-juicer *totem* remmina vino gksu xdg-user-dirs-gtk dmz-cursor-theme eog epiphany* evince* *evolution* file-roller gedit* metacity *mutter* yelp* rhythmbox* banshee* system-config-printer transmission-* tomboy network-manager* libnm-* update-notifier shotwell liferea *software-properties* libunique-3.0-0 libseed-gtk3-0 libnotify* libpanel-applet-4-0 libgdata11 libcamel* libcanberra* libchamplain* libebackend* libebook* libecal* libedata* libegroupwise* libevent* gir1.2-* libxklavier16 python-gmenu libgdict-1.0-6 libgdu-gtk0
Pin: release unstable
Pin-Priority: 990

Package: *
Pin: release experimental
Pin-Priority: 150

Note that I used “Pin-Priority: 990″ this time (while I used 500 in the article explaining how to install GNOME 3 on top of unstable), that’s because you want these packages to have the same priority than those of testing, and they have a priority of 990 instead of 500 due to the APT::Default-Release setting.

You’re done, your next dist-upgrade should install GNOME 3. It will pull a bunch of packages from unstable too but that’s expected since the packages required by GNOME 3 are spread between unstable and experimental.

If you want to read more articles like this one, click here to subscribe to my free newsletter. You can also follow me on Identi.ca, Twitter and Facebook.

Additional Resources

Get the Debian Administrator's Handbook

After a successful liberation campaign, the Debian Administrator's Handbook is now freely available. If you appreciate my articles and what I do for Debian, check out the book and grab a copy.

Comments

  1. It seems libpulse is broken in experimental right now (at least it fails to install in my sid with experimental VM).

  2. Anonymous says:

    Note that unstable does occasionally break entire systems. The recent issues with /run breaking udev (breaking the boot), and the bug in glibc which caused /lib64 to disappear (breaking all dynamically linked programs) required some careful rescuing to recover from. I wouldn’t recommend unstable to anyone who can’t recover from such situations. Testing, on the other hand, has issues that severe filtered out by those of us who run unstable. :)

  3. Guess that there is no way to test GNOME 3 while keeping 2.32 installed and untouched? Back when KDE4 first came out packages were available to install under /opt and thus did not disrupt 3.5..

    Perhaps its not a priority for the packagers

  4. In this time the package gnome-session and gnome-session-fallback has breaking depends:
    gnome-settings-daemon depends libgnults (>=2.11.7-0)

    • This seems to be an amd64 specific problem probably because the uploader built it against experimental. Add libgnutls26 to the pinning file and you’ll be fine (i.e. you should allow apt to pick up the libgnutls26 from experimental which satisfies this dependency).

  5. So does this mean that Gnome3 isn’t really “Made Of Easy”? LOL

  6. awesome guide mate. thank you.

    nothing like living dangerously ;)

  7. I have following error after running “apt-get update” as root
    E: Syntaxfehler /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/local:4: Zusätzlicher Unsinn am Dateiende

    What can I do? This is the content of “/etc/apt/apt.conf.d/local” is:
    APT::Default-Release “testing”;
    END

    • Remove the “END”, it’s not meant to be part of that file.

      • Thank you, that worked. (o:

        Now, I have a different issue. I could’ve something to do with the fact that I am running this in virtual box. GDM3 works fine, after logging in I only see the desktop-background abnd the desktopf-switcher, if I use them.

        Maybe I am missing some packages in the APT pinning. I head to force a the version from testing for gnome-session-deamon, but “apt-get disk-upgrade” wants to install it. Luckily I have a snapshot before updating anything and can try it again to make it right

  8. Sebastian says:

    Hi, thanks for your tips,.

    So, When we will have gnome 3 for debian 6 ?

    thanks a lot

  9. vangelis (gnugr) says:

    Raphael hi,
    I did as you suggest but with “apt-cahe policy gnome3-session” not exists, just “gnome-session”
    i.e. i’m with linux-image-3.2.0-rc7-486

  10. Hi,
    I tried to update my Wheezy to Gnome 3.2, but
    apt-get update
    apt-get dist-upgrade
    apt-get upgrade
    is not installing gnome-shell, only other programs
    sources.list:
    deb http://ftp.at.debian.org/debian/ wheezy main contrib non-free
    deb-src http://ftp.at.debian.org/debian/ wheezy main contrib non-free
    deb http://security.debian.org/ wheezy/updates main
    deb-src http://security.debian.org/ wheezy/updates main
    deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free
    deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian experimental main contrib non-free

    apt.conf.d/local:
    APT::Default-Release “testing”;

    apt.conf.d/local
    APT::Default-Release “testing”;

Trackbacks

  1. [...] as is in case something bad happened.This turned out to be a good idea.I searched around and found this handy post by Raphael Hertzog providing instructions on how to install Gnome 3 on Debian Testing [...]