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How to Upgrade Debian 10 to Debian 11 | phoenixNAP KB

How to Upgrade Debian 10 to Debian 11 | phoenixNAP KB



is a free and open source Linux distribution developed by the community-supported Debian Project. Created in 1993, it is one of the oldest operating systems based on the Linux kernel.

The latest stable release is Debian 11, codenamed Bullseye, released in August 2021 and with five years of support. At the time of writing, the latest update for Debian 11 is version 11.6.

This tutorial shows how to upgrade from Debian 10 to Debian 11.

How to upgrade Debian 10 to Debian 11 - tutorial.


Debian 10

  • installed
  • . A

  • working network connection
  • .

  • A user account with root privileges.

Upgrading from Debian 10 to Debian 11 Upgrading the system from Debian 10 to Debian 11

should not interrupt users’ use of the system, although it is necessary to restart the kernel after the upgrade is complete


Before upgrading, it is strongly recommended to create a backup to avoid data loss in case of a problem during the upgrade


Follow the steps below to upgrade a Debian 10 system to Debian 11.

Step 1: Back up data (optional)

It is strongly recommended to perform a full system backup before upgrading. One of the right tools to create a backup is rsync.

If you don’t want to back everything up, the main system content you need to back up is:


  • apt/extended_states
  • dpkg -get-selections “*”
  • /

  • var
  • /

  • lib/aptitude/pkgstates output if you are using Aptitude to manage packages.
  • /home directory and hidden files to prevent some applications from overwriting existing user settings with new defaults.

Step 2: Update existing packages and repositories

Be sure to update all packages before starting the system upgrade. A standby package can create a problem during the upgrade procedure.

List all waiting packages running:

sudo apt-mark showhold | more

If there are no packages in the output, continue to the next step. If any packages appear

in the list, remove the retention status of each package by using the following syntax: sudo apt-mark unhold [package_name]

For [package_name], specify the exact name of the package as it appears in the list.

After removing the retention status of the listed packages, update the system repository and update all packages to the latest version by running:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Wait for the process to complete.

Step 3: Install the gcc-8-base package The

gcc-8-base package

contains files common to all languages and libraries contained in the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC). Most systems come with the package pre-installed, but some users have reported that the installation fails if the package is not installed.

Make sure the gcc-8-base package is installed by running: sudo apt install


If the package is already on the system, the command does not make any changes

. Step 4: Update the font file with Bullseye repositories

The etc/apt/sources.list file is the main apt font configuration file. Edit the file as root to add the Bullseye repositories to the existing sources and reconfigure




Follow the steps below:

1. Change the directory to

etc/apt: cd /etc/apt

2. Open the sources.list file with your preferred text editor. We will use nano:

sudo nano sources.list

3. Delete existing sources (buster) or disable them by placing a hash sign (#) at the beginning of the line. Then, paste the new sources into the

file: deb bullseye main contrib non-free deb bullseye-updates main contrib non-free deb bullseye-security main deb bullseye-backports main contrib non-free

The file should look something like this:

4. Save your changes and exit the text editor.

Step 5: Update

the repository with new sources Run the

following command to update the system repository with available Bullseye

packages: sudo apt update

The output indicates the number of upgradeable packages that includes all Debian 11 packages. Proceed to the next step to update your system.

Step 6: Upgrade your system to Debian 11

Run the following command to upgrade your system to Debian 11 (Bullseye):

sudo apt full-upgrade -y

When prompted to restart service packs, select Yes with the arrow keys and press Enter:

Wait for the upgrade process to complete. It may take a while, depending on the speed of the network and the configuration of the machine.

Step 7:

Reboot the system

Reboot the system so that the update process completes and updates the kernel. Run

: systemctl restart The system

reboots and

the Debian 11 login screen appears:

Step 8

: Check the system version Check the Debian version after

upgrading by running:

cat /etc/debian_version

The output indicates that the system has been upgraded to the latest version

of Debian 11.6. Features of Debian 11 Bullseye Debian 11 comes with over


new packages, totaling almost 60,000 packages in the distribution. Most packages have been updated to the latest version, while some packages have been removed as they are no longer officially supported.

The distribution officially supports the following architectures:

32-bit (i386) and 64-bit (amd64) machines 64-bit ARM (arm64)ARM EABI (

  • armel
  • )

  • ARMv7 (EABI hard-float ABI, armhf
  • )little-endian MIPS (mipsel)64-bit little-endian

  • MIPS (mips64el)64-bit little-endian
  • PowerPC (ppc64el
  • )

  • IBM System z (s390x)

In terms of the user interface, Debian 11 offers multiple applications and desktop environments, including:

  • GNOME 3.38
  • ,

  • KDE Plasma 5.20
  • LXDE 11
  • LXQt 0.16
  • MATE 1.24
  • Xfce 4.16


Software updates include productivity applications, such as LibreOffice, Calligra and the latest versions of the program language, such as Perl, Python3, PostgreSQL, PHP and many others.

The operating system now also supports driverless scanning and printing, especially for new devices connected via Ethernet, wireless or USB.

In terms of system resource distribution, the

systemd init system in Bullseye is based on the use of v2 control groups, providing a unified hierarchy of resource control. Users can also choose from alternative boot systems, such as System-V-style init, OpenRC, and others.

Bullseye is also the first version of Debian to support the exFAT file system.


This tutorial showed how to upgrade from Debian 10 (Buster) to Debian 11 (Bullseye). The new version comes with many updates, more software tools than the previous version, and a wide selection of desktop environments.

After upgrading to Debian 11,

see how to install phpMyAdmin on Debian 11 and get started with database administration, or improve system performance by installing the latest Nvidia Debian drivers

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