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I have a vps which runs a LAMP stack to serve mainly drupal installations. Today a new kernel version for debian has been released. What is the best way to upgrade my machine to minimise any risks??

Thanks in advance for your replies.

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migrated from Feb 13 '10 at 17:33

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Generlly speaking, if you haven't done anything fancy with your setup then the starndard aptitude aupdate && aptitude upgrade should do the job with no extra intervention.

The key things to look out for are:

  1. make sure you have enough room, on the filesystem that the contents of /boot are found on, for the new kernel and initrd
  2. if you have done anything fancy like installing your own kernel modules that are key to the boot process, make sure you ensure that these modules are included in the new initrd that will be created
  3. make sure your backups are uptodate and tested before you reboot following the kernel upgrade, just in case

I have done this a number of times on remote systems running Sarge, Etch and Lenny and had no problems even on machines that have RAIDed root filesystems (in earlier days, RAIDed and/or LVM based root filesystems were a key cause of problems, but this has been much more safe in recent times).

I recommend updating+checking backups then rebooting the machine before running the update. This way you are sure that any problems you encounter are due to the upgrade and not a pre-existing problem with yout setup that had not yet raised its ugly head because the machine had not been restarted recently.

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I too agree with MikeyB, debian stable is bugfixes and security updates. Especcially the current update addresses multiple remote vulnerabilities hence the reason to update. I am also fan of "if it's not broken then don't fix it" mentality.

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The best way to minimize risk is to not upgrade the kernel. If you don't have a need for any specific features offered in the kernel and it is not a security issue then by all means just LEAVE IT! Most new features in kernels tend to be hardware support or features that you are likely to never use unless you are a real power user.

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by "never use" i mean features that would have very little, if any, impact on your LAMP stack needs. – jemmille Feb 14 '10 at 2:38
Package updates in debian/stable strongly TEND TO be bugfixes & security fixes. Much less common are 'new feature' releases. Hence the 'stable' in debian/stable. – MikeyB Feb 14 '10 at 3:14
good point MikeyB, I forgot about that aspect of the Debian updates. So, in general, I'm a fan of "don't fix what isn't broken" but in this case I'll have to defer to the first answer (and up vote it) – jemmille Feb 14 '10 at 4:10

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