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I'm running Ubuntu Server 10.10 on VMware Workstation and I would like to update it since I see, that it offers new release 'natty', but I have a lot of important files there and I don't know is it possible to run do-release-upgrade safely. What would be suggested as best practice?

UPD: As I understand command sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade is only for current system update and all of it packages.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Most of the times, upgrades are quite safe.
Unfortunately, you can never be 100% sure that everything is going to go well.

So I suggest you do what everyone does when an upgrade is imminent: backup.

Get an external HDD or any other kind of storage (network file server...), backup all your necessary files (including configuration files for running servers like apache, samba, etc) and then proceed with the upgrade.

Update: If Ubuntu Server is an image running on a VMware Workstation, why don't you just clone/backup this image and then do the upgrade?

You'll have to run: sudo do-release-upgrade

More info can be found here

Latest update:

After the upgrade, the screen would go black with a blinking cursor.

We discussed the issue and found out that grub entries had splash vt.handoff=7 appended although there was no GUI installed.

We then tried to edit the grub entries and delete the above parameters, which worked.

So we then edited /etc/default/grub and made GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="".
Saved the file, issued a sudo update-grub in order to update the grub menu entries and the problem was solved.

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+1 Good call on the 'cloning'. Nicked it to edit my own answer ;) – Rinzwind Aug 21 '11 at 14:12
Yes, if you think about it, VM image cloning is probably one of the biggest advantages of virtualization... No harm done.. – Pavlos G. Aug 21 '11 at 14:16
Did exactly that. Just copied all of the files from the place where current vm pointed and started do-release-upgrade, but after finishing update, it showed me launch screen with 11.04 and then it stoped, showing black screen with blinking underscore. – Eugene Aug 21 '11 at 15:48
Any errors reported during the upgrade? Any errors after the blinking underscore? Can you boot to single-user mode? Any older kernel versions? – Pavlos G. Aug 21 '11 at 18:44
No errors. Just blinking underscore. – Eugene Aug 21 '11 at 19:30

Always assume that upgrading will fail horribly and plan your steps accordingly.

  • Backup your files
    • Make sure config files in /etc/ like apache, samba, cups etc are saved too.
    • MySQL: make a mysqldump of your database.
    • Also think of backing up up your /home/ and shares.
  • Check that you can actually restore your backup.
  • It is also custom where I work to then make a full backup of the whole disc.

We use a second system to store an uncompressed backup so I can ssh files back to the new system. But you can also do this with a usb stick or drive if need be. 1 advantage of a virtual server you have is that you can clone your image and try the upgrade on the clone.

During an update I tend to skim over the files that are getting replaced/upgraded/deleted but when you do a distro upgrade this is rather pointless.

  • Start the upgrade and pay close attention to any errors. After it is finished try to see if the important stuff is still working.

If the upgrade fails do a complete re-install and use your backups to get all your own configuration back.

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