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I have a mysql server, ubuntu server 10.04. It works great and we're really happy about it.

Time for updates has come and I am sincerely scared: can I do a sudo apt-get dist-upgrade with light heart? I thought that maybe using just security updates would be safer or I'm just preoccupied about nothing?

In one single question: can I cause problems to production by updating my ubuntu server?

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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted
+50

If you're just using lucid-updates, the policies are pretty solid for stable release updates. Basically only small changes that won't change the behavior of the software in an incompatible way are allowed.

Here are some steps you can take to make sure it goes smoothly.

1) Read the change logs for all new packages. If you're using apt-get upgrade, look at the list of packages that are going to be updated. The easiest way is to use aptitude (apt-get install aptitude if you don't already have it):

aptitude changelog foo

This will show you the changelog of the package, including un-applied updates. If you see something like "LP: #123456" this is a Launchpad bug report that has been fixed by that update, you can read the full bug report at http://launchpad.net/bugs/123456

2) backup our system. You should be doing this anwyay!

3) Schedule downtime. While most updates won't cause LONG downtime, they will probably involve restarting services to pickup updated configurations and/or libraries, so be ready to have brief service interruption.

3a) Test stopping/starting your services BEFORE the update. We get a lot of bug reports in Ubuntu from users thinking an update broke their system, when in fact the configs had been wrong for a while but the problems had gone unnoticed because the service was running fine with the old, non-broken configuration.

Good luck!

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You can also use apt-listchanges (Package) to review all changes before upgrades. There's also apt-listbugs, which would list critical bugs, but IIRC it "only" looks at Debian bugs not, Launchpad's. –  blueyed Dec 8 '10 at 22:55
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Regular updates from official repositories (I am assuming you are doing just apt-get upgrade, and not a release upgrade) are usually safe. Anyway there are some best practices which apply to critical servers and should be followed when applying upgrades:

a) Make a full db backup priot to the upgrade

b) Have a rollbackup plan, make sure you have the previous version .debs stored or available in case you need to rollback to the previous version

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Re: b) - just note the previous version of anything that breaks, and run apt-get install package=x.y.z-foo where x.y.z-foo is the exact version you want. (and then file a bug reporting the failure!) –  SpamapS Dec 6 '10 at 15:13
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Go for it you're safe! Safer than having security issues...

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No. It can cause issues. –  hexafraction Aug 16 '12 at 15:01
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