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I'd like to upgrade my distribution (10.04 to 10.10) and since I have customized Ubuntu quite a bit, I was wondering what is likely to "break".

If that can help, here is a sample list of things that I have customized (although I'd like a general answer):

  • Gnome panel
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • SSHd config
  • Apache + config
  • Nautilus (added some plugins)
  • Compiz config
  • etc.
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Alright post your output of sudo apt-get update – karthick87 Dec 12 '10 at 20:43
up vote 3 down vote accepted

A distribution upgrade will, in all probability, not change any of your configuration.

  • In rare cases, it can overwrite configuration some files in /etc, but never in your home directory. Make sure to back up all configuration that isn't easily restorable. Of course, you should always back up everything.

    • In case any configuration does break, don't restore your backed up configuration files. Use them as a guide to re-configure what ever software.
  • To rule out any incompatibilities, it's recommended that you try out the new version via a live CD. Even though it would be surprising.

I agree with DKuntz2's recommendation to back up, however - I disagree with his recommendation to restore. Restoring old configuration will cause problems at some point. The upgrade process is very smart about preserving your data while upgrading programs. They, in turn, are very smart about handling old data. The will do the best they can with your customisations and changes.

Here's how to proceed:

  • Back up all your data, as you normally would.

  • Read the Release Notes. Especially check the Known Issues section for regressions.

  • Try out the new version with a live cd or live usb image.

  • Use the provided methods to upgrade, that is hit Alt+F2 and type do-release-upgrade, do not change your source.list file, this will result in partial upgrades, leaving old version of software on your system instead of upgrading them.

One important note though: If you have used anything like Automatix or EasyUbuntu, that is any repositories that are unsupported and not recommended, all they have done may very well break. Remove this software before upgrading, to be safe. (ref)

Please consult any of the sysadmins here on Apache, or just back it up completely. I'm pretty confident in sending you off to upgrade, very much assuming that your recovery plan won't be needed, but I can't be so confident about Apache. I've just never used it.

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As far as Apache is concerned, it's vital that the document root be backed up regularly (this is /var/www by default in Ubuntu). It's unlikely that the upgrade process will step on anything else Apache-related in my experience, though I'll point out again that while I've tested 10.10 on a few machines I've not done this specific upgrade. – koanhead Dec 12 '10 at 21:49

I haven't done this upgrade as I'm sticking with 10.04 for now (and if Unity becomes the default in later versions, I will be leaving Ubuntu for good). However, based on the questions I've been seeing here and elsewhere and my experienced with dist-upgrades in the past:

1) Keyboard shortcuts, sshd, apache and conffiles and /var/www, and Nautilus plugins are unlikely to be affected.

2) Gnome panel and Compiz configs might get b0rked, and you may experience other video-related problems. All three of the machines I tested had display issues with 10.10.

You could experience issues with wireless drivers as well, but it's equally likely that things will suddenly start working given the state of wireless drivers these days :^)

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So there's really no general rule for knowing what might break? I have to check on a case by case basis, right – Olivier Lalonde Dec 12 '10 at 22:12

Copy your home folder (the whole thing, including the hidden files) to another drive/partition, than upgrade, than replace the newly created home folder with the copy. This will keep your files and settings intact. Now all you need to do is install your new applications (actually, you might want to install the applications first because I don't know if newly installed apps will replace the old settings folders).

This should keep most of your customizations in place, minus apache (I don't know where that's kept), and possibly sshd (same reason).

This is why lots of places suggest keeping your home folder on another partition, so you can easily update everything, but leave your home folder intact (just switch the location later).

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please comment if you vote down. I wonder what's wrong with this answer. – Rafał Cieślak Dec 13 '10 at 17:14
I would also like to know why I was downed... – dkuntz2 Dec 13 '10 at 17:25

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