Pantheon desktop or the elementaryOS are temptingly beautiful. What I see most attractive is the Pantheon terminal, which, in my opinion, finally we get a Linux terminal on par with what macOS can provide.

However, the official Debian repository does not carry Pantheon. So to use it, I can either install elementaryOS and side load Debian into it, or the other way round: On we can download an ISO for Debian Buster+Pantheon Desktop installation. It will boot with lightdm and load the full set of Pantheon desktop GUI. So simply speaking:

dd if=pantheon-buster-juno-amd64.hybrid.iso of=/dev/rdisk3 bs=1M

will give you a USB thumbdrive installer. Then install with it will have a Pantheon desktop running on Debian buster, with the Pantheon repository added to the apt system.

But. Do not blindly apt-get update; apt-get dist-upgrade on it after install. It will break.

After some painstakingly debug, it is found that the issue lies on this package:

The original (working) Debian package is versioned 3.3.1-0+pantheon+buster+juno3. I cannot tell how the juno5 and juno3 are different, but everything were fine until this package is upgraded. Then, loading of lightdm will give you this GLib-GIO-ERROR on its log:

Settings schema 'org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.housekeeping' does not contain a key named 'active'

it is same as this issue but I may need to instigate the Debian source package to tell if, as mentioned in the github issue, simply because of an omitted build switch.

So this is the correct upgrade process after initial installation:

  1. Install with the Pantheon+Buster ISO, just like an ordinary Debian
  2. Go to terminal
    1. comment out the source list at /etc/apt/sources.list.d/pantheon-debian.list
    2. add deb buster-updates main contrib non-free to /etc/apt/sources.list
  3. apt-get update; apt-get dist-upgrade to bring the Debian base up to date
  4. Uncomment the source list at /etc/apt/sources.list.d/pantheon-debian.list; then apt-get update
  5. Manually upgrade (apt-get install) everything except pantheon-greeter
  6. Comment out again the source list at /etc/apt/sources.list.d/pantheon-debian.list; then apt-get update

The repository seems not upgraded for months. So I would believe it is just fine to disable that. For now.