Last Review: Dec-18-2011

LMDE: mintUpdate goes mintUpdate-Debian

While the LMDE 201104 DVD was shipped with a 'versioned' Update Manager the newer DVD with LMDE 201109 supplies an updater missing any version information. Unfortunately in modern computing it seems to get a bad habit thinking, it would be a cool feature keeping things simple (for users considered to be dumb people) by omitting essentials. This article deals with the differences between these programs and a way to switch the newer one back to the old behaviour.


What happened is, that the packages mintupdate, mint-meta-common and mint-meta-debian have been replaced with the package mintupdate-debian. Although the program's philosophy has changed essentially, you don't get sufficient information on this within the corresponding About Dialogues:

About MintUpdate
About mintUpdate
PaddingPicAbout MintUpdate-Debian
About mintUpdate-Debian

There are only slight differences between the two program interfaces:

MintUpdate Main Screen
mintUpdate Main Screen
MintUpdate-Debian Main Screen
mintUpdate-Debian Main Screen

mintUpdate-Debian comes with the new Update Pack Info button while mintUpdate's level filtering (which was a rating for the update's stability and necessity) has gone. The Update Pack Info button appears greyed out until there is no new Update Package available. Clicking on it will show up an information screen on your system configuration and the properties of the new update pack, if available.

MintUpdate-Debian Update Pack Info Screen
mintUpdate-Debian Update Pack Info Screen

Update cycles

While mintUpdate was created to run Linux Mint Debian as a rolling release, mintUpdate-Debian reduces this approach to something like a semi-rolling release. This fork of mintUpdate was made to simplify updating LMDE by offering a mirror of the Debian Testing repository with quality controlled frozen packages on Although mintUpdate-Debian intended to provide monthly updates, my experience has rather been a ›maybe‹ approach. Moreover there is a significant difference to release scheduled distributions such as Ubuntu: While there is no new update package released, systems, relying on mintUpdate-Debian, won't get any updates. Ubuntu for example serves even daily updates, keeping the installed softwares in terms of security up to date (however the new versions of these softwares will arrive with the next distribution release only).

I understand, that mintUpdate-Debian was made, to grant a sure-fire way updating LMDE but this results more or less in giving up the exiting feature of being a rolling release. And it could rise new security issues too. Fortunately there is an easy way to get back the old behaviour i.e. restore the rolling release nature of LMDE without dropping mintUpdate-Debian.

Configuring mintUpdate-Debian

You can tell the updater, which sources should be used by editing /etc/apt/sources.list. You must do this with root rights (Feel free to use your favorite editor):

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

It depends on your sources.list file's content if mintUpdate-Debian delivers rolling updates (old behaviour) or if it follows the monthly schedule (new behaviour). Basically there is only one line difference in the sources list files of LMDE 201104 and LMDE 201109.

The default sources.list results to monthly updates (LMDE 201109) and looks like this:

deb debian main upstream import
deb testing main contrib non-free
deb testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb testing main non-free

For a constantly rolling release (LMDE 201104) your sources.list should look like this:

deb debian main upstream import backport
deb testing main contrib non-free
deb testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb testing main non-free

Note: The backport repository is not standard. It allows maintaining newer application versions than your OS was distributed with (from a controlled source).