Upgrading to Mint 20 or going back to Debian?

OK, this is my first post here. So I want to upgrade from Mint 19.3 to Mint 20. But in order to do that I need to do system snapshots and there is no way I am going to do any system snapshots. I have my own backup system, and don’t want to put any personal time or drive space into system snapshots. So I wonder if there is a way around this, other than the obvious of writing Mint 20 to a USB stick, and installing that.

But I am a fairly recent Mint user after a long stretch of Debian that I finally put an end to because Debian no longer updated rednotebook, and that’s the program I use for my fiction journals. Rednotebook was still functional in a broad sense, but getting very slow at saving in particular. I didn’t really trust that app anymore. So I needed those updates.

Sorry if I ramble excessively, but my question is can anyone point me toward something like a simple but effective tutorial on how I could get software updates from an ubuntu ppa into a Debian Stable system?

Thanks in advance.


can you explain why you think you have to create a system snapshot and why you feel that would be problematic?

i read this

and understand to a degree, but if it costs you maybe 5 minutes and 8 gb of space (which can be deleted and back under your control/for your use after/if the process finishes cleanly) i’m not sure i understand the hesitation.


Like @01101111 said, I never hear snapshots were a requirement. Recommendation, yes.
Plus, I read somewhere that the upgrade to Mint 20 thru Mint maintenance will not be available for a couple of months. And yes, you need to be at Mint 19.3 for the upgrade.
Also, Welcome to “It’s Foss” @gregory49. I am hopeful you will get the answers to your questions.


Well, thanks to everyone who was so welcoming. Maybe it is a small thing, but I got into Linux about 10 years ago mainly because I decided Microsoft had gotten too pushy. I am not going to tolerate a pushy Linux distro for very long. And except for not updating rednotebook, I very much prefer Debian to Mint, so I think it’s probably time for me to learn how to use a ppa to update rednotebook on Debian.

And anyone who looks on the Mint blog will see that was today when they put up the info about updating from 19.3

And anyone who follows the directions on the Mint blog will see that the process shuts down if it does not detect images.


i am also in favor of choice and understand wanting a system to do what i believe is most comfortable to me and in my best interest.

i just started using rednotebook from the ppa (on an ubuntu 18.04-based distro) and really like it.

the blog post that i saw contains a link to these instructions which offer a way to avoid using timeshift:

If for some reason you do not want to use timeshift, you can force the upgrader to not require it by typing the following command: " sudo touch /etc/timeshift.json ".

but that skips the point made by:

The upgrade overwrites files in /etc/ with default configuration files. You can restore files indivually by the Timeshift snapshot you made prior to upgrading.

which was that they are trying to give users a method to restore their configuration files.

for that reason alone (overwriting config files) i would probably skip the upgrade, but i just wanted to point out that there appears to be a way to bypass timeshift if you want to give it a try.

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I think I will go back to Debian. I prefer to be upstream of Ubuntu, rather than downstream. It’s just that I would be lost without fully functional rednotebook. I find it so useful for all my fiction projects, especially character development work. But thanks for the suggestions. I appreciate that and maybe others will find them useful.


i enjoyed my brief trial of debian. i think i would have been more comfortable with xfce than the lxde i chose, but i liked having the option to add multiple de’s during installation and it was informative learning to install wifi drivers and use su/eventually add myself to the sudoers file. i would image you could check out the rednotebook ppa on a debian live usb just to be sure, but if you are decided that makes sense too.

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Why not just use a VM? Or a server? Or compile everything from source? There are so many ways to access a single application in Linux, even with compatability issues.

Did you ask the maintainers and/or did you search for other people having the same issue as you?

Never used a VM, because I never wanted to, sounds complicated for nothing. And what would I want a server for? That’s got me confused, even more than I was when I asked this question And I don’t know how to code and have no desire to learn.

What I really want is a reliable OS that doesn’t suddenly throw complicated things at me when I am busy with other projects. It’s obviously time for me to get ready to go back to Debian. This morning when I did my daily sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade the only result was mintupdate. So I purged mintupdate and then autoremoved all its dependencies. Problem solved.

Now I am out of the mintupdate business and have no more questions. Later this weekend I will reformat the partition where Mint now resides and go back to Debian. Then, when it’s time for an upgrade, I won’t need to wait, or ask questions. I will just edit my sources and upgrade. Debian is so much easier to use, and it’s not green.

Thanks to everyone who tried to help me. But I can now see the most effective way for me to solve this problem is to dump Mint and switch back to Debian.

So you don’t need Rednotebook?

I additionally wanted to point out, that the maintainers of Rednotebook apparently decided to not (directly) support the most widely used Linux based operating system, in the entire world. That means that neither Debian nor Mint is responsible for that.
If you find it too complicated to adjust your situation to Rednotebook, then send an e-mail to the maintainers or open an issue in their bug tracker.
However, don’t blame an entire operating system, or two, because the Rednotebook maintainers apparently don’t care to support the most widely used Linux based OS in the world.

Oh, I still need rednotebook in order to ever have any significant hope of finishing my 2 novels in progress. My original hope in posting a question to this site was that someone could guide me to a tutorial on how I can run rednotebook from the ubuntu ppa on Debian that is not too complicated for me to use. Of course, I found lots of ppa tutorials, but they’re all complicated and like with any tutorial found solely by searching, there is no guarantee they will actually do what their authors claim on my system.

I guess I should try posting this to Linux Questions. I guess I need to rework my question to make it perfectly clear that updating to Mint 20 is not my first choice about how to get around this problem. Completely dumping all versions of Mint and going back to Debian with a fully functional rednotebook is my first choice. Mint will never be my first choice because it is downstream from Canonical.

And I used to be on the mailing lists for various Debian emails, several of them, and your account of how rednotebook came to be unsupported in Debian does not line up with what I read in those emails at the time.

As I remember it, Debian had a vacancy and needed someone to take over maintaining rednotebook, and so they asked for volunteers who might be interested in taking over. They got no volunteers, so they stopped maintaining rednotebook, and it could no longer be downloaded for new installations from the Debian repositories.

Rednotebook worked just fine for me for quite a while after this, but gradually it began to freeze up for a minute or two every time after it saved. I never figured out how to stop the automatic saves, so I was constantly being interupted, and it eventually became very difficult to write with rednotebook.

So I installed Mint in one of the partitions in all my computers. But now after Mint has become so pushy about upgrading it is definitely time for me to dump mint. And in the future I will follow my personal rule of never using an OS that is downstream from Canonical because what Canonical has done to Debian has wrecked it.
Thanks to everyone for all the attempts at advice.

That does not really matter. Rednotebook has its own website and they could (usually pretty easily) compile a Debian-compatible .deb for anyone to download, as do most software providers. Or they could’ve also provided an AppImage file. Which would’ve run on pretty much any Linux based OS.
That’s what I meant with “the maintainers do not support it”. It’s not Debian’s obligation to support a random novel writing software, except the maintaining part that is forced by Debian, which you, as I understand, provided an example of, referring to the e-mail correspondence.

Examples of software maintainers providing packages for pretty much any platform

And this list can go on forever and ever and ever…

See, that is what the Rednotebook maintainers could’ve done, just as well. They don’t do it, so it’s their fault for not caring.


Well, I am over 70 and I never touched a computer until I was nearly 50, so I think I am doing pretty OK because I have been multi-booting Linux for over a decade now. One way I manage that is by knowing my own limitations, so I leave the really technical stuff mostly to younger people. There was a time I did a lot of distro-hopping, but I kept coming back to Debian, so I eventually stopped distro-hopping.

maybe 5 minutes to install from adding flatpak to finish.


Well, thanks for that. I know nothing about flatpak, so that must mean it’s time to learn.

Right now I am doing the dd thing with a debian 10.4 iso. Sometime tomorrow I will replace the Mint 19.3 on 1 of my laptops with Debian 10.4 and then soon after that I will see what I can learn about flatpak. I’ve learned a few things today, and I hope to keep that up tomorrow. One thing I learned a long time ago is that the second laptop does not get changed at all until the new system on the first laptop is totally functional.
Thanks for your help.


happy to help. honestly, one of the reasons i tried it was because i also knew nothing about flatpaks :slight_smile:

this is the guide i used to install flatpak: https://flatpak.org/setup/Debian/
and this is the rednotebook page on flathub with (which i originally found as a link on the rednotebook downloads page) installation instructions for the rednotebook package: https://flathub.org/apps/details/app.rednotebook.RedNotebook


i had also never successfully installed anything from source and had read some people didn’t like using flatpaks so i decided to try the source install next. that took about 30 minutes from start to finish and part of that was just verifying that i had the necessary packages installed.

the directions i followed from the rednotebook github page were definitely more technical than the flatpak install and didn’t create an icon in the menu to run the program. it can be run from the command line and probably with some more time i could figure out how to add an icon, but i mostly just wanted to see if it would install :slight_smile:


Less technical will be the best for me. I will resume this project tomorrow. Thanks


Have you looked at MX Linux. It is “a desktop-oriented Linux distribution based on Debian’s “stable” branch” and has been number one on the DistroWatch for a long time. Just a FYI.


I downloaded it after I noticed MX’s position on Distrowatch, but then I read the release notes better after I did, and I never did the dd thing because I do not like Xfce. I have tried it and found it continually confusing.

I have been using Cinnamon for a long time, and have gotten very used to it. So I learned one important thing from this little misadventure, which is read the release notes before downloading, not after.