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I have a pair of heavily-used machines which are running Fedora Core 5 or FC6, i.e.:

$ uname -r -v
2.6.20-1.2320.fc5 #1 SMP Tue Jun 12 18:50:49 EDT 2007

(I think one of them might have started out with RedHat Enterprise Linux 5.)

As you might imagine, software doesn't get updated much on them any more because it's a hassle.

Someday I'd like to move these to an updated version of the kernel (and rest of the OS), in order to get bug fixes and general improvements.

At this point, should I just wait until we can buy a new machine, and then move all the users over and reinstall/configure the software? Or can I do an in-place update? I've read posts like this which strongly recommend against trying to upgrade the system. But, does that mean I have to suck it up and backup/transplant/update all the various programs, databases, and all that by hand? If so, it seems like I could move to Ubuntu or anything else because it will be the same basic work anyhow. Is that correct?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I typically have to agree that upgrade is not usually the best option. Though I have personally used the preupgrade utility in the newer versions of Fedora have had really good luck with it so far. Since F5/F6 is going back at least 7 versions of fedora at this point, I would say the best bet is to start over with a new install.

If you can wait to do an install on a new system, that will be the easiest because you will still have access to everything on the old system. If there is a requirement pushing you to do the upgrade it would still be possible to install over your existing system AFTER VERIFYING A GOOD BACKUP. If you have all your mount points split out, this can be done pretty easily too. If you have everything under one mount then it is a little more difficult to do that without completely relying on your backup.

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Thanks for the word. That jives with the other commenter, and with the advice from one of my coworkers who uses linux on the desktop. There's no requirement compelling me to do the upgrade, other than the fact that any time I want to add new software, it requires updating a tangled chain of dependencies by hand. If I could get out of that game, great! – khedron Oct 19 '10 at 17:14

I suggest you wait for the CENTOS 6 release (kernel 2.6.32, the only test version is the RHEL6 beta, no centos 6 beta available). But if you really want updated version of your software you'd better go with debian, since it's a rolling release system. You will always face the same situation with redhat/fedora, updating to another version is always risky. But if you have a solid backup/restore system it shouldn't take too much time.

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Looks like I should read up on the relationship between CENTOS & Fedora/RedHat. But we're a small team and I'd rather spend as little time as possible re-installing software -- rolling releases definitely preferable, if they can be managed. (As I told one of my coworkers who uses Ubuntu on the desktop, I've been upgrading the same MacOSX installation for around 8 years now. Hardware and software have both changed significantly, but almost everything just moves along one version to the next. I'd like our servers to work like that too.) – khedron Oct 19 '10 at 17:11
Ubuntu is not a rolling-release distribution. Debian testing and unstable both are, but not debian stable. Usualy we seek stability when we use servers, not a frequent updated versions of software. And ubuntu will behave like centos when it comes to updates, it will probably work...probably. So I'm not sure that you will gain that much in term of work by moving from fedora to ubuntu. What are the programs that you want updated ? server like apache or apps like openoffice ? – Rosco Oct 20 '10 at 15:01

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