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I have a couple of blogs running on an Ubuntu 9.04 machine and I'd like to upgrade it. Is it safe to do so?

Note, I also have a few daemons that were manually compiled like MySQL, Nginx, PHP, etc.

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

The only way to be really sure is to test. Create a test environment that mimics your production environment as closely as possible and then carry out the upgrades, monitor what happens and make a decision based on that.

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dist-upgrade is extremely safe. I have dist-upgraded hundreds of production machines. I have systems running squeeze that were originally installed on sarge. I've executed apt-get dist-upgrade literally thousands upon thousands of times on production machines.

That's not to say that it's guaranteed safe. I have encountered problems, but I can count those on one hand.

That being said, you should always test your intended new deployment in a non-production environment first. Including testing the upgrade process.

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Have a +1 for being direct. But it's worth reiterating that you can only consider it "extremely safe" if you're doing everything in a Ubuntu-aware way - which compiling from source normally isn't. – Coops Aug 13 '11 at 21:04
Was the "Windows users..." bit intended to be facetious or not? – jscott Aug 13 '11 at 23:43
No, I'm completely serious. It's absolutely absurd to have to reformat a computer every six months because the vendor creates such crappy products. It's even worse that you can't upgrade a server and have to install completely fresh on new hardware. The abysmal design of Windows has grown some extremely bad habits among those who should know better. – bahamat Aug 14 '11 at 2:40
I dropped back by this thread and would also like to add that if you're compiling from source you should build a package and distribute the package. Never install directly from source. – bahamat Mar 26 '14 at 17:07

I'd disagree with pepoluan's comment that it is never safe.

It can be safe, and Ubuntu is far better at handling release upgrades than most other distributions I've handled. (You mention hand compiled software, that is where your trouble may lie).

However in order to be confident in an answer you have to make a judgement call on what risk your willing to take -- and then test it. Never say "never" :-)

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Someone care to explain the downvote? It's good manners to leave a comment indicating why. – Coops Aug 13 '11 at 20:35
Down vote was me. Sorry, I misread "disagree" as "agree". You are actually absolutely right. My vote's locked unless you edit it, but if you do I'll change to +1. – bahamat Aug 13 '11 at 21:14

If you want to update your distribution running dist-upgrade will be the way to go. It will only update packages installed via apt-get or dpkg. It would not touch your manually compiled stuff. Also it would give you the summary before doing the job, so you could see it yourself.

If you want to upgrade the Ubuntu version to newer one then you would have to run do-release-upgrade. I feel in your setup doing so would be risky. There are two ways to approach this task:

  1. do complete test as @lain says;
  2. reinstall your manually compiled packages via the package manager. Fix and verify your configuration. Then run do-release-upgrade or use the alternative CD upgrade option (personally I would to the latter).
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I would not consider that a safe thing to do.

Even with much testing are you going to do?

I would migrate to a new server rather than trying to upgrade the existing. Using apt-get should make this fairly easy, assuming the blog platform doesn't have a ton of unusual dependencies.

PS. I always avoid installing software that isn't packaged when possible. And for me, in my experience, it's always been possible.

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