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I know how to exclude certain packages when updating RHEL like:

yum update --exclude=kernel

How would I prevent yum from updating from 5.3 to 5.5

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Is there a specific reason why you want to prevent this? Most people prefer to have security and bug fixes... – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 26 '10 at 19:16
It seems the NSA doesnt approve of 5.5 and the company buying our product want us to downgrade it back to 5.3. – yan bellavance May 26 '10 at 20:05
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Excluding redhat-* files prevents the release information from being updated e.g. it still thinks it's 5.3 .

yum update --exclude=kernel --exclude='redhat-*'

So when I did the yum update (I have only 5.4 not 5.5). I ended up with a lsb_release command that says:

LSB Version:    :core-3.1-ia32:core-3.1-noarch:graphics-3.1-ia32:graphics-3.1-noarch
Distributor ID: RedHatEnterpriseServer
Description:    Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 5.3 (Tikanga)
Release:    5.3
Codename:   Tikanga

openssh-server-4.3p2-36.el5 (from 5.4)

rather than the openssh-server-4.3p2-29.el5.i386.rpm

from 5.3

These are the packages that would be excluded:

# rpm -qa | grep "^redhat"

Personally I'm with Ignacio on upgrading the whole thing. I think you will need to to a bit of digging into what those packages provide and decide whether or not it's safe to exclude them. If your customer is that keen on what the NSA thinks then this might not get by them.

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I would love to go 5.5 but yes this is a DoD contract. Thanks alot for you response though, thats seems to start the diggin process very well. – yan bellavance May 26 '10 at 22:14

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