Upgrading Debian

Upgrading Debian

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I’ve been working on a new filestore project at work for a while now. After getting things working nicely on our Solaris machines, and finally moving my home directory over, I decided to tackle our Debian server. It quickly became apparent that I’d need to upgrade the machine, which was running Woody with a 2.4 kernel, to get to a decent IPsec and autofs setup.

Now, I’m not a Linux user, let alone a Debian one. So this was a new experience for me. After a quick nose around online, and with a few helpful pointers, I found some useful instructions on how to upgrade. It boils down to a fairly simple process;

  1. Make sure the system is running the latest Woody updates.
  2. Modify apt sources.list file to change woody to sarge.
  3. Run apt-get update.
  4. Install/update aptitude.
  5. Run aptitude -f --with-recommends dist-upgrade to do the full upgrade.

Then it’s just a case of fixing up any conflicting files and changes, and you’re done. I had to remove our backup software (lgtoclnt) and re-add it though, because it messed with the X packages.

I decided at this point to make sure Sarge worked before looking at the kernel. So I rebooted the system. I waited. And I waited some more. The console showed that it had gone through the BIOS and RAID POST, but nothing else. A brief trip back to the machine room showed a scary looking “LI” message, which I knew meant lilo wasn’t working.

At this point I consulted some friends who explained what I needed to do. A short while later, and with a freshly burnt boot CD, I had the system back up and running. To reinstall lilo I’d booted the CD up to the point where it loaded the aacraid drivers, switched to another terminal, mounted my root parition, chrooted, and run lilo.

By this point I’m starting to grumble about Linux/Debian being stupid. But, I move on. I discover that I’m also going to need to upgrade to 2.6 if I’m going to get IPsec support. After a short while of looking at rebuilding kernels, and boggling at the myriad of build options available, I decide to apt-get install kernel-image-2.6. That can’t be too hard, can it? A few moments later I’m left staring at an Oops message referring to a “kernel NULL point deference” which appears to have come from the install running dd.

Nasty. Anyway, to cut a long story short I tweaked the postinst script to stop it running dd, and that allowed me to get the kernel installed. Surprisingly it worked first time, but I did have to fix the modules list afterwards to silence some error messages.

Now a few hours later, and after discovering the difference between autofs4 and the Solaris automounter, I now have a working system. But I’m left wondering why I’d really want to be using Debian at all.

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