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  #1  
Old 5th December 2007, 11:31 AM
Dan Offline
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Exclamation Upgrades vs fresh installs

Hello everyone.

After seeing and answering many posts/threads in the last few weeks about upgrade vs. fresh installs -- and also seeing quite a few frustrated victims of less that successful upgrades, I have posted this thread to save some typing time.

I know many of you have successfully upgraded without appearant incident. Very well, but this is not the place to argue in favor of that method, or post those stories. This is a place for a little plain speaking about this issue, from the fedora point of view.


1) First, the cold simple truth is, although fedora does provide the means to do an upgrade, and this can and has been successfully done, it is NOT the recommended method.

2) Performing ANY major system changes, without first performing a full and complete backup of your data is a fools bet! You do so AT YOUR OWN RISK!

3) The reason for a complete fresh install is inherent in the fedora project concept. So is the near maniacal development and release rate. THIS IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE. If you need a longer lived installation, try CentOS or RHEL.

4) ANY upgrading of the kernel will break things dependent upon it, such as custom installed video and wireless drivers. You are not "saving your work" by trying to do an end-run-around by ugrading to the new kernel version. The only way to not lose those kernel mods, is to not change the kernel.

5) If you are using fedora in a server/business environment, just because a particular fedora version has hit, or is approaching "end of life" does NOT mean it automatically breaks! The easiest way to duplicate/imitate the stability of CentOS or RHEL, is to choose your updates wisely, and just continue using the installed system until change is actually required rather than just wanted.

6) If you are not a fedora/Linux adrenaline junky, (Like most of us) a good means of helping preserve your sanity is to have a little patience before installing a new version. Let the "vunderborks" surface and wait for some fixes/workarounds to appear here on the forum before you take the plunge.

7) If, in light of all these admonitions and warnings, you still decide to try the upgrade anyway, do your homework first! The fedora project has one of the most extensive wikis on the web, and the release notes are amazingly complete documents. Use them!

If anybody has knowledge of further resources relating to this issue, (one way or the other,) please post them here. However, as I said above, you are welcome to argue the case FOR upgrades in another thread.

Thanks,


Dan

Resources:

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/DistributionUpgrades

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Releases/8/ReleaseSummary

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Objectives

http://gparted.sourceforge.net/

http://dban.sourceforge.net/

http://www.centos.org/

http://linuxmint.com/

http://www.debian.org/



.

Last edited by Dan; 5th December 2007 at 11:53 AM.
  #2  
Old 5th December 2007, 11:47 AM
Tashiro Offline
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Made thread sticky.

Tashiro
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  #3  
Old 24th December 2007, 03:17 PM
rg_linux1 Offline
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Thumbs up Fedora Core 6 to Fedora Core 8: solution=fresh install

Just to share with you my latest experience in installing Fedora Core 8: upgrade vs fresh install
I wanted to go from Fedora Core 6 to Fedora Core 8. After three attempts to use the upgrade facility I did not succeed because the upgrade process just stop about 1/3 of the step where it checks for dependencies. Therefore, I did a backup of the essential data and I perform a fresh install of Fedora Core 8 with success. Conclusion: this gives support to the statement made by Dan that upgrade is not the recommended route and fresh install is the way to go.
  #4  
Old 27th December 2007, 02:04 PM
rexbinary Offline
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Yeah the folks in #fedora on Freenode irc state repeatedly that only media upgrades (upgrading using a fedora DVD or CD) are supported, and then only from one version to the next. (Example, F7 to F8 using an F8 CD or DVD) If you wanted to upgrade from FC6 to F8, you would need to first upgrade to F7 using the F7 CD or DVD, and then upgrade that to F8 using a F8 CD or DVD. Upgrades using yum are never supported.

My personal recommendation would be to create a separate /home partition, then you can fresh install each time and not worry about your data.
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Last edited by rexbinary; 27th December 2007 at 02:10 PM.
  #5  
Old 27th December 2007, 02:19 PM
JN4OldSchool Offline
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hmmm, havent seen this thread and reading Dan's post I immediately started formulating a way of posting what Rexbinary just said.

I am going to generalize and "profile" which I try to stay away from, but, what I have found is that those people who have a real reason to be trying the upgrade are the ones that are QUALIFIED to do the upgrade path. Those folks who have experience, know the in's and out's and the tricks and who wont be crying for help or writing flaming Fedora posts.

The people who are trying to upgrade to "save" all their precious work and data and setup time will only lose out on this path. A better way is to create a partition scheme that allows one to save this stuff from install to install. This was like magic when I learned this. The first time I created a separate /home and reinstalled and booted right back into my personalized desktop, just the way I left it in the previous version complete with bookmarks, emails etc, blew my mind. There are even better ways than just a separate /home. I wont get into all that here. But my message to our newer users is a fresh install can be a painless, fast experience that shouldnt disrupt more than an hour or two of your life. The upgrade path will probably have you down for a week or two before you can figure it out. Be smart, partition for the long run.
  #6  
Old 27th December 2007, 07:05 PM
pianoplayer Offline
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Backups

The suggestion to make a separate /home partition is an excellent one. It is still an excellent idea to make a backup of your home directory (or directories), either to a separate disk or to CD or DVD, depending on the size. The disk partitioning dialogue in Anaconda is better than those in many distributions, but it is definitely possible to make a mistake.
  #7  
Old 27th December 2007, 07:44 PM
billythekid Offline
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JN4OldSchool,

What do you think is better than a separately mounted home directory? I like this setup a lot but would be curious to know what you think is better.

thanks
btk
  #8  
Old 27th December 2007, 08:14 PM
JN4OldSchool Offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billythekid
JN4OldSchool,

What do you think is better than a separately mounted home directory? I like this setup a lot but would be curious to know what you think is better.

thanks
btk
I do not use /home to keep my personal data. Instead I have a separate partition called /seanobrien in my case, but call it whatever you want as long as the name isnt taken by anything else. /data suffices. On my system this is actually a whole 400GB hard drive. This thing has held all my data for well over a year now and is mirrored in the same computer by another 400GB hard drive. I also manually back up to a backup server using Samba to a separate computer with yet another hard drive.

On most of my computers I dual boot two distros (at least). I informally call the second distro a "backdoor." Actually someone else in here came up with the name but I like it because that is exactly what it is. If my main OS fries I simply boot into the alternative distro. My /seanobrien partition is mounted and I continue working. My backdoor at the moment is still F7. The reason is it was once my main OS. When F8 came out, instead of wiping F7 I simply installed on the backdoor partition which, at the time, was debian sid. So I am dual booting F7 and F8. Now that I am confident F8 works and now that I am using it as my main OS I can change F7 to whatever I want to play with. Just havent done so yet. When F9 comes out I will put it on that partition. Seamless!

OK, about /home. This may seem counterproductive, but I just include /home in the root partition (/). I know through experience the .config files I will want to carry over. I simply copy these into /seanobrien. They are in there now, they are always there as a backup, remember, /seanobrien is mirrored and backed up over the net into the backup server. Every now and then I will overwrite these .config files with a fresh copy, but my .config files mostly are static. I use foxmarks for bookmarks but back up .mozilla too. This means that any new distro, even debian or gentoo or whatever, I can simply drag and drop these files into my new /home from /seanobrien. If I wanted to I could create separate /home partitions for each distro, but really havent felt the need. For what I do this system works fine.

Last edited by JN4OldSchool; 27th December 2007 at 08:23 PM.
  #9  
Old 28th December 2007, 04:03 PM
jim1944 Offline
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I just went through an upgrade from F7 to F8. It was relatively painless although it took a long time. In fact, the upgrade was much less painful than the original fresh install of F7. Maybe I was just unlucky on the fresh install and lucky on the upgrade.

I have a few questions for those who advocate fresh installs over upgrades:

1. What about user accounts and passwords? Can they be maintained over a fresh install?

2. What about system settings such as display resolution and color depth, security policy tweaks. etc? Are they preserved over a fresh install?

3. What about packages added through yum after the original install?

4. Naturally, when I installed F7, I took the default partitioning which means /home is not in a separate partition. Can I fix that without starting over?

Thanks
Jim
  #10  
Old 28th December 2007, 04:17 PM
billythekid Offline
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JN4OldSchool,

Thanks for your layout. I have something similar but I have two questions:

1) How do you point new installs to make /seanobrien your home directory with config files and things. Or do you use the default home directory as your home and just use /seanobrien for data and things?

2) Do you manually change grub.conf everytime you upgrade one of your OS's? Is there some way to automate this so that both (or multiple) Os's can write their upgrades to grub.conf?

btk
  #11  
Old 17th January 2008, 02:39 PM
fryemo Offline
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along the lines of billythekid's post, will JN4OldSchool post the instructions for newbie's of the exact steps to create the partition,copy the home directory, and how to make the new install replace it each time? i.e "rebooting right back into my personalized desktop" His thinking is right on the money and in harmony with Dan's post. It would also be a good sticky for us noobs.
thanks a bunch in advance,
fryemo
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  #12  
Old 17th January 2008, 02:49 PM
fryemo Offline
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also the steps to list installed applications and how to backup and restore browser bookmarks

thanks again,
fryemo
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  #13  
Old 17th January 2008, 04:21 PM
JN4OldSchool Offline
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I have reached the point where I am going to stop answering any technical questions. There are many great people in this forum who are much more qualified than I am. The only answers I have are ones I have found through my experiences and what work for me. There are many ways to do anything in Linux, especially on this subject, and no one way is right or wrong. Is upgrading Fedora wrong? No, it isnt! It is officially discouraged but it is also possible and might be the right way for many. I have discovered that in many ways I have become a pompous ass when I was just trying to help. Out of respect for the community and as a gesture of thanks to this forum for bringing me to this point in my knowledge I will give my opinions, one last time, on the questions asked. But please remember they are just one way of doing things.

@ billythekid's first question and frymo, when you install any distro you can highlight an existing partition and select it but do not format it. This will leave the data intact. So simply highlight the existing /home and (usually) just right click and it will provide this option.

@ fryemo, you would not have to copy your /home in this case. The data, including the .mozilla file which contains your Firefox bookmarks, remains intact and your bookmarks and Firefox themes and extensions along with your desktop, icons, panels, theme, and any app configurations liked saved game data or sword modules will be set up just as you left them in the previous distro! If you use another browser you will find its .config file in /home also. Some browsers hide it in one of the .Gnome files though so you may have to search. These files are hidden, in your file browser you will need to go up under the view menu and check "show hidden files."

If you do NOT create a separate /home (which I dont) I find it is easiest to just periodically drag/copy the .config files I want to save from /home to /data (whatever your common data partition is called) and overwrite the previous save of this file. When you install a new distro, along with a new, fresh default /home, you simply drag these .config files back and overwrite the default file.

@ billythekid, there are many ways to dual/multi-boot. I would suggest reading all you can on this before you do it. I have found that using a "master" grub in the MBR and "slave" grubs in the individual / partitions of the slave distros is the best way. This will automatically update the kernel in the grub for each distro. You will have to do some manual mapping, however, every time you install a new distro. This is easy though with a basic understanding of how grub works. I have found a live distro CD is the easiest way to do this, but not necessary. Most distros will mount all partitions these days.

@ fryemo, "yum list installed" will list all the installed apps, but a better way is to use yumex. "yum install yumex." This will give you an awesome GUI tool for yum, much better than Pirut.

Over the last couple years I have toyed with the idea of writing how-to's and even install guides and websites such as Dangermouse's:

http://dnmouse.webs.com/index.htm

But due to my lack of knowledge, the fact that most information is redundant and the fact that you would always get people posting after you with "better" ways of doing things has simply turned me off. Besides, Fedora is a fast moving target and I really dont much care for technical writing. What I feel the Fedora community needs is not MORE information but ORGANIZATION for the information that already exists. This has been discussed in the suggestions and feedback forum at great length and I found I was simply a voice crying in the wilderness on this one. It is not my place. I suppose we all have our own ideas about things and that is OK. This forum contains all the information and ideas you will need. It is just a matter of narrowing down the search. Dont be afraid to use other distro forums and websites and guides to help with a Fedora problem either. For the most part information carries across distros. Last but not least, if you are against the wall be sure to ask for help. There are so many good, talented people in this forum it is staggering. Sometimes it is hard to find the person with your answer but they are there.
  #14  
Old 17th January 2008, 04:47 PM
fryemo Offline
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JN4OldSchool,
thanks so much for your wonderful reply. Your points are all well taken and appreciated as I continue my delightful journey in the Linux world.

fryemo
  #15  
Old 5th February 2008, 07:01 AM
bhunnu16 Offline
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Thanks JN4OldSchool for sharing your knowledge. I will be covering that in few days.
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