I have a few Ubuntu VMs on Azure running Server 17.10 and I'm wondering if it's safe to upgrade them to 18.04.1 LTS using
If so, what precautions should I take?
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I just did this to about 110 EC2 instances. I actually did it from Ubuntu 14.04 through 16.04 and up to 18.04 using an automated the process for that many instances. It turns out it is possible to automate
If you want to be really safe, take a snapshot of the root disk before going forward.
Make a clone of your instance or spin up a test instance and do the upgrade. There are a lot of changes in Ubuntu from 14.04 to 18.04, a lot. A number of things broke, and SystemD changes a lot of default behavior.
But there are quite a bit fewer changes from 17.10 to 18.04, so I expect you to have a pretty reasonable time of it.
It really depends on what you have installed. In general, I've come to prefer fresh installations of new OS versions rather than upgrading. There are a ton of fancy deployment and CM tools out there, and OS upgrades in general are complex operations even on "vanilla" installs.
Perhaps take a snapshot and try. Just make sure you can roll back quickly somehow.