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I have an IBM Server X that's probably around 12 years old. It's running Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy). There are no issues with the machine's performance, but I'd like to upgrade the OS for security reasons. I'm wondering if upgrading it is advisable since the hardware is old and there is no possibility of updating the hardware.

About the server: it has an Intel Xeon 5130 dual-core processor at 2.0 GHz/core, and 1 GB of RAM (ECC if I remember correctly). It has a 30 GB (I think) hardware-driven RAID1 array. Ubuntu is running as command-line only, there is no GUI running.

The machine serves as a small company's proxy (squid/squidGuard), print server (cups), and DNS/DHCP/firewall(iptables).

Now the fun part - it's using ReiserFS.

I was thinking that in order to do an upgrade to get it to latest LTS Ubuntu, I'd have to do a long series of upgrades in sequence. I'm concerned about the filesystem since I know that ReiserFS is no longer supported. I learned about fstransform which I do plan on using, but I'm not sure if I switch to, for example, ext4 if that was supported back when Edgy was around.

So now my questions:

  1. Would upgrading this machine to latest LTS be advisable, since it might run slowly and have performance issues on such old hardware or be incompatible with it? (Note: I don't need a GUI, and when I ran a liveCD it informed me that my video card was too useless anyway)

  2. If I do upgrade, which filesystem should I use?

  3. After each upgrade, would I need to recompile/reinstall all the software (like the DNS server, print server, squid)

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This is just my opinion.

As an IT Systems Engineer I try to keep all of my gear at the latest stable release for a variety of reasons. Because your server is running some very legacy hardware I'd be inclined to retire it. I definitely wouldn't upgrade it to the latest LTS. With a 2 Ghz CPU and 1 GB RAM the performance will be pretty bad. Perhaps not a huge issue if all it does is provide web proxy and print services but still.

A more sensible plan (IMO) would be to upgrade the kernel, squid, cups and iptables. Then you could continue to use the machine as you have been but with all the security holes patched. You might find it easier to do these upgrades from source.

Changing file system types could open up a huge can of worms and given how old your hardware is, doesn't seem worth the risk or effort. Personally I would not attempt it unless I didn't care if I permanently broke the machine.

As an aside, if there is any ability to bump up the RAM in that box, I'd definitely do it.

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  • Thank you for this reply. I did not think about just upgrading the kernel and the individual programs. Would upgrading the kernel from one that old need to be done in stages like the OS would? And would it still support ReiserFS? (agree that changing the FS would be best avoided)
    – bluesky
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 2:47
  • That's a difficult question to answer with authority. There are a LOT of kernel updates and some major vulnerability patches between where you are and the latest and greatest kernel. If you didn't have the ReiserFS concern I'd be inclined to install the latest kernel from source but without some investigation you won't know if doing so will break anything important. I hope you have a lot of time to research this. I once upgraded an HP-UX machine that hadn't seen a patch for 20 years.... amazingly, the process went flawlessly. YMMV
    – jones0610
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 16:55

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