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My VPS server is running Ubuntu 10.04 32bit now, but I have to upgrade my OS to 64bit because of the 32-bit limitation of mongoDB.

But if i reinstall the system, there are a lot of programs need to reinstall and reconfig, and I have to backup database and other files to another computer.

Is there a way to upgrade from 32-bit Ubuntu to 64-bit Ubunut with out reinstall system?

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AFAIK there is no supported way to go from 32 to a 64 bit system. You should use this as an opportunity to test your backups and system documentation. If you have documented your system properly this really should be pretty easy. – Zoredache Nov 17 '12 at 19:20
Technically it is possible. However it is non-trivial and I would not do it unless I had physical/iLO or DRAC access to the machine and I could test it before in a VM. Wiping and reinstalling is likely to takes less time, cause less downtime and is less likely to leave strange configurations behind. – Hennes Nov 17 '12 at 19:21
This is one of these things that are 100% theoretically possible, 99% technically possible, but practically are very long, error-prone and unreliable. Don't do it. – gparent Nov 17 '12 at 19:54
Automated? No, forget it. Just reinstall. Chances of getting tons of errors is very high. – Lucas Kauffman Nov 17 '12 at 21:49
up vote 1 down vote accepted

As an automated upgrade? No.

I think it may be possible manually, but it would involve replacing every package and the kernel. It is hard and very prone to errors. I'm also not sure the result will work very well. I wouldn't do that on a server!

Anyways, if your disk crashes or if someone deletes everything on it, what will you do?

Take note of what applications you have installed, backup /etc to save your configurations. Other parts of the filesystem may also be useful depending on the software you're currently running on that machine.

For the databases, dump everything (and don't forget the authentication and authorization tables). Database dumps are quick and easy to restore.

Reinstalling the same applications is not long and configuration should not be a problem if you have the old /etc in hands.

If this is a web server, don't forget about places like /var/www

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Heh, I agree. It has been done on FreeBSD (see, especially the part where it mentions some ports may not work. Which is fine for a personal play system, but unacceptable for a server. – Hennes Nov 17 '12 at 20:01

I tried to switch from 32 bits to 64 bits on a ubuntu.

It's faster to reinstall everything, dpkg REALLY don't like playing with him. If you try, try in a VM first, to be sure you understand how to do.

Good Luck.

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Linode let you change the kernel to 64 bit, without upgrading everything else. I just tried this on my system (also Ubuntu 10.04 32 bit like yours), and ... well it worked just fine. There were no problems at all. I'm also running a web server (Apache) and various other applications, and I haven't encountered problems.


It takes about 5 minutes in total. I'm slightly staggered that it just worked, without problems but, touch wood, that's my experience, so it really was a quick and easy thing to do.

Of course, as the documentation points out, this only upgrades the kernel, the OS (and everything else) is still 32 bit.

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