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Archive for June, 2011

Upgrading from Debian Lenny to Squeeze (version 6)

Monday, June 6th, 2011

You want to update to Debian Squeeze from Lenny. You don’t want to scour the whole Debian documentation just to be sure not to have overlooked details that apply to your situation. Here is a complete step-by-step tutorial for upgrading to Squeeze from Debian Lenny.

In 4 steps is listed here the procedure we’ll follow. There are quicker, more risky, procedures, however the time saved doing otherwise is count in seconds, who bothers.

  1. minimal system upgrade, followed by
  2. a kernel upgrade, udev upgrade and reboot, and then
  3. (optionally) upgrade the packages associated with your critical services.
  4. full upgrade

I spell out here all the preconditions that apply for this condensed but complete step-by-step tutorial for upgrading from Debian Lenny to Squeeze. You can easily find out if this is for you or not. For web developers that use Debian as a testing/production machine this will apply in 95% of all cases.

If you don’t meet all preconditions you’ll have to go read the full documentation.

Our Goal

The goal is to be able to update from a remote terminal with as little disruption and as few risks as possible, by risks meaning the need to resort to a local console to fix problems. However no guarantees are given. None at all. The only guarantee I can give, is that I have tried the upgrade myself on 3 different Debian boxes. On one it failed because I followed a different, shorter, recipe. Two were successful following this one.

Preconditions for the Upgrade

Your Debian Lenny is a pure command line installation (no GUI, that is, x-server and more). You are running some servers and other stuff, but you don’t have external users logging in their own /home directory to care of.

You have a Debian Lenny (version 5) that is up to date to the last update point. Otherwise

aptitude update

aptitude full-upgrade

should resolve any issues. Verify with

dpkg -l | pager

no packages should have a combination of h and fh as the first 2 flags in the output.

it might be bad if you have any other combination of letters. Here is an excerpt of mine.

ii  apt-utils    0.7.20.2+lenny2    APT utility programs
ii  aptitude   0.4.11.11-1~lenny1  terminal-based package ...
rc  aspell-en     6.0-0-5.1                  English dictionary for G...

ii is OK, rc is OK

From here on we’ll use Apt instead of Aptitude (it is officially recommended for a Lenny to Squeeze upgrade)

Other preconditions to “qualify” for blindly following this step-by-step recipe:

You don’t have third party packages (from repositories other than the official Debian Lenny repositories), if you do, remove them prior the upgrade and treat their upgrade independently.

“If you are using some VPN services (such as tinc) they might not be available throughout the upgrade process”

“You should not upgrade using telnet, rlogin, rsh”, you might loose connection, use ssh instead.”

“If you have configured APT to install certain packages from a distribution other than stable (e.g. from testing), you may have to change your APT pinning configuration. In this case you want to read the whole document on Debian org.

Let’s start

1 Minimal System Upgrade

Take a backup of

  • all /etc
  • the file ./curr-pkgs.txt after having done: dpkg --get-selections "*" > ./curr-pkgs.txt
  • /var/lib/dpkg
  • /var/lib/apt/extended_states
  • /var/lib/aptitude/pkgstates
  • Any other files you care of (DB, web files, /home files etc.)

Do evaluate ”what if” in case you should be forced to reboot from the console terminal and the off/on button on your box.

If things go wrong this is the link you need.

Start doing your upgrade.

Change the sources to squeeze:

less /etc/apt/sources.list

Substitute any occurrence of lenny with squeeze. Don’t use stable, to avoid getting into troubles at the next version upgrade, write squeeze. Codenames are unique, category names are not.

Also remove sources for debian-volatile that are no longer used. Be sure to have all of main, contrib and non-free (for network cards firmware)

Here are my sources :

deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ squeeze main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ squeeze main contrib non-free

deb http://security.debian.org/ squeeze/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ squeeze/updates main contrib non-free

deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian squeeze-updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian squeeze-updates main contrib non-free
Ctrl-c
Y

Record your upgrade session with

script -t 2>~/upgrade-squeeze1.time -a ~/upgrade-squeeze1.script

When finishd you’ll stop recording typing: ”exit” Timing info is in the .time file, you can see all what happened and console messages reading the .script file.

Now enter:

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade

(we’re only doing a minimal upgrade now)

You might need to open an extra terminal during the upgrade to examine some situations as to be able to reply to questions posed to you by the upgrade process. To do so type

Alt-right arrow.

2. Upgrade Kernel and Udev

Upgrade the kernel
Start by finding a suitable linux kernel image

apt-cache search linux-image-2.6.

And choose one that suits your architecture and is equal or older to linux-image-2.6.26-2

apt-get install linux-image-2.6-<your flavor>

Although you had non-free among your sources you might end up into the following situation, due to bad handling of firmwares by the installer:

W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/tigon/tg3_tso5.bin for module tg3
W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/tigon/tg3_tso.bin for module tg3
W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/tigon/tg3.bin for module tg3

In this case install manually the nonfree firmware package:

apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree

And you google about it to be reassured that you’ll have the correct driver installed anyway.

In another case I got the corresponding message for another driver:

This system is currently running Linux 2.6.26-2-686 and you are installing Linux 2.6.32-5-686.
In the new version some of the drivers used on this system may require additional firmware files:
r8169: rtl_nic/rtl8168d-2.fw, rtl_nic/rtl8168d-1.fw

choose not to do anything, however I ended up anyway with a well functioning Debian, go figure it!

Install the new version of udev

apt-get install udev

stop the script recording by entering ”exit”
Reboot the system.

Restart recording in a different filename with

script -t 2>~/upgrade-squeeze2.time -a ~/upgrade-squeeze2.script

3. Optionally Upgrade Your Critical Packages

For extra control, on a production machine, upgrade some individual packages by their own.

apt-get dist-upgrade <package-name>

Go on doing the full upgrade

4. Complete the Upgrade

apt-get dist-upgrade

Do the various configuration as asked during the process, if you choose to upgrade to the configuration  (which is recommended) you can always retrieve the old configuration in the .dpkg-old version of your config files.

Enjoy your new Debian.