Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Synchronising package selections between Linux Mint and Linux Mint Debian Edition

18th April 2012

To generate the package list on the GNOME version of Linux Mint, I used the Backup Tool. It simply was a matter of using the Backup Software Selection button and telling it where to put the file that it generates. Alternatively, dpkg can be used from the command line like this:

sudo dpkg --get-selections > /backup/installed-software.txt

After transferring the file to the machine with Linux Mint Debian Edition, I tried using the Backup Tool on there too. However, using the Restore Software Selection button and loading the required only produced an irrecoverable error. Therefore, I set to looking around the web and found a command line approach that did the job for me.

The first step is to load the software selection using dpkg by issuing this command (it didn’t matter that the file wasn’t made using the dpkg command though I suspect that’s what the Linux Mint Backup Tool was doing that behind the scenes):

sudo dpkg --set-selections < /backup/installed-software.txt

Then, I started dselect and chose the installation option from the menu that appeared. First time around, it fell over but trying again was enough to complete the job. Packages available to the vanilla variant of Linux Mint but not found in the LMDE repositories were overlooked as I had hoped and installation of the extra packages had no impact on system stability either.

sudo dselect

Apparently, there is an alternative to using dselect that is based on the much used apt-get command but I didn’t make use of it so cannot say more:

sudo apt-get dselect-upgrade

All that I can say is that the dpkg/dselect combination did what I wanted so I’ll keep them in mind if ever need to synchronise software selections between two Debian-based distributions in the future again. The standard edition of Linux Mint may be based on Ubuntu rather than Debian but Ubuntu is itself based on Debian so the description holds here.

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