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I currently have Ubuntu 14.04 installed on my system, which reached its End of Support in April this year. If I want to step up to Ubuntu 16.04, what is my best course of action - should I upgrade(i.e. is there a way to still do that) or should I clean install?

sudo do-release-upgrade -d

Will this step work or will it upgrade to the latest LTS, now that 14.04 has reached End of Support? Also, whichever be the answer, if you you can guide me to a trustable page with a list of steps, that would be great.

Thanks !

  • The -d flag means that the command will certainly do something that you are NOT expecting. – user535733 Dec 15 '19 at 22:30
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    16.04 will reach end of support in April 2021, under 1.5 years from now. Have you considered 18.04, which will be supported until April 2023 (3.5 years)? – marcelm Dec 15 '19 at 23:01
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It is in all cases preferred to do a clean install. This is also an opportunity on which your system is thoroughly cleaned.

New editions of Ubuntu adopt new approaches, also in the way things are configured. Upgrading may leave old configuration approaches in place. A small example to illustrate this point (which I have been through): on computers with an SSD disk, Ubuntu used to set up a cronjob to run fstrim automatically on scheduled times (needed to maintain performance of an SSD). At some point, Ubuntu switched to systemd to do this. As I upgraded instead of performing a fresh install, I found myself having two services configured to launch fstrim, so I manually had to removed the cron service. This is an example of how unneeded "relicts" may persist in an upgraded version.

This was a small example just for illustration of potential issues related to an upgrade. A fresh install is by far preferred. The drawback indeed is that you need to reconfigure your own desktop, but the advantage is more system stability and significantly lower chances to incur issues.

If you value stability, your best action is now to do a fresh install of the current Long Term Support Release Ubuntu 18.04. This version will continue to be supported for the next 3.5 year as of December 2019.

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    I disagree with your first sentence: "It is in all cases preferred to do a clean install.". I have upgraded many times and find it easier than reinstalling. The only caveat is I don't upgrade in-place but rather upgrade on a clone. Then I can still boot the older version or the newer upgraded version. – WinEunuuchs2Unix Dec 15 '19 at 19:04
  • I did not say it is more convenient. I said it is preferred. I also upgraded since 17.10 with not too much issues. – vanadium Dec 15 '19 at 20:00
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    I only disagreed with the in all cases reference. Something like most cases or many cases is better than all cases. – WinEunuuchs2Unix Dec 15 '19 at 20:03
  • This might be semantics, but I would argue that it is always better. It is up to the user to decide whether the convenience out weights the risk. And yes, in many cases, issues may be minor or non existent. – vanadium Dec 15 '19 at 20:05
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Because 14.04 is EOL (End of Life) there are special considerations:

Upgrade or fresh install?

The advantage of upgrading is that you get to keep your current configuration as is. This is often desirable on production environments which you want to keep as stable as possible. At the same time, configuration applicable for older versions might not always work with newer versions.

If you format partitions when installing a newer version, you have the option to select a new file system, which might have benefits and required features compared to the old one. The new installation also gives you a clean platform to start building your system from; no old configuration files and potential upgrade-related bugs.

Reinstalling is usually easier and faster, especially if you would have to upgrade through several releases. It might also help you save some bandwidth, if that is a concern.

That said if you were to do a clean install you might want to do it on a new partition and keep your old partition intact. This is helpful for migrating settings set many years ago on the old partition but unknown for the new partition. For example you may have custom scripts in /usr/local/bin or custom settings in /etc which you setup many years ago and then forgot about until the new installation isn't working properly.

If you want to upgrade you should consider cloning your old partition to the new partition and run the upgrade on the clone. Then if the upgrade fails, you can reclone, fix the error condition and run the upgrade again.

Please note an upgrade can take 40 minutes (in my case) to a few hours (reported by other users) depending on your system.

A few times a day, a few times a week, month and year I will change different system settings. Over the course of five years I forget all that I've changed. The advantage of upgrading is none get lost. The disadvantage of reinstalling is all get lost.

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