This is not a problem since I can always burn a new distro to the SD, but I would like to know what happened.

I had a working system with Jessie and the Raspian desktop- you know, the one with the pretty background and a few icons on the left, Internet, and Bluetooth on the top right.

But, I did an in-place upgrade to Jessie (I've done it before). Following this procedure.

When finally done, on first boot I see the normal background image under the login window. As soon as I enter pi and raspberry, the desktop switches to the Debian desktop.

So, mostly to learn more about Linux, where did I go wrong? Is there a simple setting to switch back to the Raspian desktop?

  • With apt-get --simulate upgrade do you saw what will happen on an upgrade? One of these packets with its dependencies does not take attention that it isn't upgrading debian. I think it isn't worth the effort to examine what packet it is.
    – Ingo
    Jun 26, 2018 at 9:02
  • It's not a problem. in some ways I prefer the Debian desktop. I just wondered how this happened. Jun 26, 2018 at 20:19

1 Answer 1


An upgrade to a new version of a debian system will replace nearly all old packets, deinstall no more needed packets and install additional ones. It must use the old configuration (-files) and adapt them to the updated needs. This all is a very complicated task and needs clean defined dependencies of the packets. Debian with its packet manager is able to do this.

To get an idea how many packets are touched you can list all with:

rpi ~$ dpkg --list

On my raspbian stretch I find:

rpi ~$ dpkg --list | grep ^ii | wc --lines

The default desktop on raspbian stretch is lxde with its dependencies:

rpi ~$ apt depends lxde
rpi ~$ apt rdepends lxde

All the listed packets have also dependencies and so forth. For example look at apt depends lxde-core. I tell this to give an idea what happens on a full-upgrade. This is developed for Debian and it is not surprising when it does not function 100 % for Raspbian. Anywhere they have overseen the dependency to install the default desktop for Raspbian instead of installing the default desktop for Debian.

To install the default desktop of Raspbian you can try:

rpi ~$ sudo apt install lxde

You should be able to switch to other desktops but I never have tried it (I prefer the command line ;-) I don't know if they have found all dependencies to work correct on raspi hardware. Try it on a backup.

rpi ~$ sudo tasksel

You will find:

[ ] Debian desktop environment
[ ] ... GNOME
[ ] ... Xfce
[ ] ... KDE
[ ] ... Cinnamon
[ ] ... MATE
[ ] ... LXDE

GNOME and KDE are heavy weight and may be slow on a Raspberry Pi.

  • Thanks, Ingo (I know I'm not supposed to say 'thanks' on StackExchange). Can I switch desktops at will? I am beginning to appreciate the Debian desktop and may want to switch on other Raspberries I have. Jun 28, 2018 at 15:17
  • @user3573562 I have updated my answer for changing desktops
    – Ingo
    Jun 28, 2018 at 19:51

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