Whether It Is Easy To Debian-ize A Kanotix Installation

One question which people often ask me, is “What is the advantage of Kanotix over Debian?” Kanotix is in fact a Debian-based distribution, but has been bundled to include advantages over straight Debian, including the ease with which certain features recognize our hardware and install.

The next question people typically ask me is, “Suppose I had installed Kanotix. What would I do if I no longer want it to be Kanotix, but rather want to revert it to a standard Debian installation?”

The answer to that question is twofold. Firstly, it is easy to remove the specific Kanotix repositories from our Debian Sources list, which ‘apt-get’ queries, to download packages. But there is a slightly more subtle side to this question, which is best answered with a concrete example.

As an example, Kanotix / Spitfire, which is based on Debian / Jessie, currently comes with LibreOffice 5.1.3.2-2. I just updated mine tonight. This differs from standard Debian / Jessie, which is only supposed to come with LibreOffice 4.4.4.3-3. The LibreOffice version that comes with Kanotix works 100%, even though it is a higher version number than what is standard.

But from time to time, both the Kanotix distribution and the Debian distribution will update the LibreOffice version we have installed, either way. This could be because certain security-related flaws have been discovered, as if we had not heard of enough zero-days yet. But if what we had was Kanotix, and if we had installed the version of LibreOffice that it offers as an advantage, then the version number would stay at 5.1.3.2-2 in my case. Any subsequent, incremental updates to LibreOffice, which standard Debian had to offer, would come as slight version increases over 4.4.3-3 – for example, standard Debian might come up with a LibreOffice 4.4.4.4 . In this case our problem would be, that our package manager would see that we have version 5.1.3.2-2 installed, and would not offer us the (slightly newer) version 4.4.4.4 , because that updated version would still be lower, than 5.1.3… So our version would stay frozen for some time, at least until the Debian team started to publish a version higher than 5.1.3.2-2 . Which would be, effectively never for Debian 8.

So in order really to get Kanotix off our system, we would next also have to uninstall LibreOffice 5.1.3.2-2 completely, which consists of numerous packages. And then we could reinstall OpenOffice 4.4.3-3 from the standard Debian repositories.

Doing so might also mean, that we had LibreOffice documents in our home partitions (user data), which happened to take advantage of LibreOffice 5.1.3 features, and which LibreOffice 4.4.3-3 does not know how to display correctly… And so what some of us might do, is just keep the LibreOffice version installed, that was once installed.

Something similar happens with VirtualBox, which is a GUI-oriented Virtual Machine, on which some of us will install Windows… Kanotix bundles a version of it, which combines all the features in one package, that package being of a higher version-number than standard Debian. Standard Debian will publish VirtualBox as a set of packages, but typically with a lower version number. In theory, the question could be more urgent here, of having to revert the version to the standard Debian version, before we install our virtual Windows, because major version mismatches here can stop our “Guest Machine” (that again being user data in its entirety) from running outright.

Dirk

 

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