Planning how to configure my next desktop

Thursday, 6 November 2014

I recently setup a bunch of IPv6-only accessible hosts, which I mentioned in my previous blog post.

In the end I got them talking to the IPv4/legacy world via the installation of an OpenVPN server - they connect over IPv6 get a private IP address, and that is masqueraded via the OpenVPN-gateway.

But the other thing I've been planning recently is how to configure my next desktop system. I generally do all development, surfing, etc, on one desktop system. I use virtual desktops to organize things, and I have a simple scripting utility to juggle windows around into the correct virtual-desktop as they're launched.

Planning a replacement desktop means installing a fresh desktop, then getting all the software working again. These days I'd probably use docker images to do development within, along with a few virtual machines (such as the pbuilder host I used to release all my Debian packages).

But there are still niggles. I'd like to keep the base system lean, with few packages, but you can't run xine remotely, similarly I need mpd/sonata for listening to music, emacs for local stuff, etc, etc.

In short there is always the tendency to install yet-another package, service, or application on the desktop, which makes migration a pain.

I'm not sure I could easily avoid that, but it is worth thinking about. I guess I could configure a puppet/slaughter/cfengine host and use that to install the desktop - but I've always done desktops "manually" and servers "magically" so it's a bit of a change in thinking.



Comments On This Entry

[gravitar] David Schmitt

Submitted at 11:18:55 on 7 november 2014

Why reinstall? boot both the old and new H/W with grml and rsync the partitions. It takes a bit of fiddling to get the grub installed, but that's nothing compared to re-fiddling all those tweaks!

I'm running the same debian installation migrated over several generations of H/W since 99.

[author] Steve Kemp

Submitted at 11:27:52 on 7 november 2014

I find that over time I install random -dev packages, services, etc. So using rsync, or pulling a drive and rebuilding a RAID array, to perform a migration means that the cruft gets copied around for years.

I would obviously use rsync to move ~/Images, /srv/music, etc, but I'd be looking at a pristine install to keep things installed at a minimum.

Also the bigger reason would be that I'd be changing distributions. I'm running wheezy here and I'd be looking at having the new host running Jessie. Yes I could sync then upgrade, but that would take longer.


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