Debian etch

by Juliet Kemp

So Debian etch (4.0) has finally been released (not sure how late they were in the end... although I seem to remember seeing "late 2006" on the Debian website). I'm therefore starting to go through the process of upgrading from sarge on desktop machines.

The first note is that actually, by and large it seems very smooth. The download, unsurprisingly, takes a while, and a reboot immediately afterwards does seem to be necessary to sort out a couple of oddities (mostly with X). But the three machines I've tested upgrading on so far have all come up fine after reboot, with no serious problems.

Minor gotchas encountered so far:

  • Users actively using the machine during upgrade may experience odd errors (e.g. programs not functioning in surprising ways). These don't seem to have any serious ill-effects but it's probably more sensible if possible to take the machine down to single-user mode before starting. (This is, arguably, a good general idea, and is probably even an official recommendation; but I don't like starting work early or staying late, so wanted to see if it was possible to do smoothly without kicking users off their machines.).
  • DenyHosts requires a reinstall; presumably this is just to link to the newer version of Python, and as such there is probably a neater solution than reinstalling, but reinstalling is so fast that it's an acceptable solution.

LDAP and Kerberos, always the two things I'm most concerned about, upgrade very smoothly.

In general I'm extremely impressed with the process; it's certainly a lot smoother than the last version upgrade (to sarge) which I recall having a lot more trouble with at the time.


Paul Crowley
2007-04-24 00:55:16
It's not surprising that things go wrong for active users during an upgrade. I think a system that fixed that wouldn't resemble Unix much; you'd want something like a fully transactional filesystem, so that running processes can keep a handle on the resources they're currently using even as they change under them.
Juliet Kemp
2007-04-24 04:50:34
Oh, agreed. I just like to experiment.

(I usually run minor upgrades without logging people out; never encountered problems to date. Anything that requires stopping & restarting services is more problematic.).