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Which distros support version upgrade?

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Hi all!

I have been using Linux (mostly Mandrake/driva) for a long time. Yep, every next release gets better and better.

But the single most annoying part of the game is that you set everything up, spend a week on finetuning it, finally have nice working setup (in my case not exactly trivial) and then half a year later you start all over again.

I am beyond the age when tinkering with my comp was my favourite passtime, all I need is a working setup.

I have considered simply not upgrading - but that's not an option either. New versions of software come out that I depend on and using old versions is often not very practical.

So here is the Q:

Is there any Linux distro that supports version upgrades? Suse? Fedora? Some other? Note that I am not friends with Ubuntu so suggesting it is useless.

I know upgrade is possible in Mandriva, but AFAIK it is not officially supported and i know from my earlier experience that it is possible to get burned quite easily. I make my living on my computer and killing it with failed upgrade I cannot afford.


With regards


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You could use Gentoo, but it does require knowing a bit about your system and how to set up and use Gentoo. I've had a machine that was clean installed with Gentoo 2006.0 and is currently on Gentoo 2007.1. This will soon be upgraded to 2008.0 when it is released shortly. I know Gentoo users who've not changed config files for years on their machines without problems. Although that's not to say it cannot happen.


As you know with Mandriva, rpm distros are the same, so Suse and Fedora will require the config files replacing. This can be done with:


slocate rpmnew


then manually replace the config file with the .conf.rpmnew file so that it has the new config changes. Alternatively, install and use etc-update. Your upgrade to your system will automatically update your user profile settings anyway, or at least it should do. I've not had much in the way of problems with upgrading from Fedora 6 to Fedora 7 - so maybe Fedora would be your distro.


As I said, you can do it with Mandriva, you don't have to clean install. You might get the odd glitch here or there, but it should be fixable without a clean install. Just sometimes it's not always so possible.


You could also try Arch Linux, as this is a rolling distro a bit like Gentoo - just without all the compiling.

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Arch, Gentoo and Debian testing / Debian Sid would meet your requirements. Upgrading Mandriva is not a big problem as long as you do not install too many third-party apps that have no newer versions available on the repos (Best way: uninstall possible problematic apps prior to the upgrade and reinstall them later). Sure, as mentioned, the one or the other thing might need some tweaking, but it doesn't take long to fix those things usually. I did an upgrade from 2008 to 2008.1 on two computers and only two things needed minor manual finetuning (my printer and my custom user-permissions which were screwed on some files (fixed with one command)).


I guess almost any distro can be upgraded rather easily nowadays. Yes, it was a hell of a problem some years ago, but the developers have worked hard on making the upgrade process easier and more stable over the years.

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As long as you're not upgrading from too many versions back you should be ok. Eg: Mandriva 2006 to 2007.1 or higher would be problematic. Normally better to do in smaller stages. I upgraded Mandriva 2006.0 to Mandriva 2007.0 without any problems, and then went to Mandriva 2007.1 after this. General rule is don't try more than two version differences. Eg, to get 2008.1 don't be any less than 2007.1

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It's worth noting that a live upgrade feature for MandrivaUpdate (similar to how Ubuntu does it - MandrivaUpdate will notify you that a new version of the distro is available, and offer to upgrade to it) is planned for 2009. Obviously this will involve us testing the urpmi upgrade method quite extensively.

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can I use this moment for an urpmi feature request: please add a downgrade option to urpmi, it will make upgrading easier, especially with backports and 3rd party packages installed ;)


maybe urpmi should prefer a few downgrades if it allows more upgrades to progress


and a second request for urpmi, try to continue with an upgrade in case of a failure, there is nothing worse than half an upgrade and urpmi quiting because of one package not being able to upgrade...

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that's not what I mean:

suppose you have installed a third party package or backport with a newer version of a library and now want to dist-upgrade but some package in the upgrade requires a lower version: the dist-upgrade will fail also urpmi recover takes up a lot of diskspace (it keeps backups of all the packages...)

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My "sedentaire" PC is upgraded from each Mandriva version to the next using Easy-Urpmi since… Mandrake 10.0 if I remember correctly (or was it 9.1?). And it is still running fine.

I always:

- Uninstall unneeded RPMs, as well as those absent from Mandriva/PLF/Jpackage repositories (this is just a security, not an absolute requirement).

- Do the upgrade, one version at a time.



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"and a second request for urpmi, try to continue with an upgrade in case of a failure, there is nothing worse than half an upgrade and urpmi quiting because of one package not being able to upgrade..."


this is not possible. urpmi already splits transactions into the smallest groups it can manage. once the groups are set, if any one package in a given group fails, urpmi cannot know if it is safe to install any of the other packages in that group, so it must skip every package in that group. all other groups will still be processed.

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