OS - upgrade or a fresh install? and, which distro. is best in handling upgrades?
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OS - upgrade or a fresh install? and, which distro. is best in handling upgrades?
Pretty soon, I hope, I'll get my brand new PC and wish to install a Linux disto. on it. openSuse may be it.
But I read recently that people prefer to do a fresh install of a newer version of openSuse, instead of upgrading it, apparently because of problems that may occur by the upgrade. As I understand, this preference apply to all Linux distributions and not only openSuse.
Thus I wonder if there's a Linux distro. that's best in handling upgrades?
I don't want to make a fresh new install each and every time that my disro. has a new version... I'm afraid to lose the data in that installation, and backing-up the data would be a headache. Also I plan to install a Windows OS alongside the Linux one via the Dual Boot configuration.
What is your opinion about this situation? I'm grateful for any ideas and explanations.
Well, you should always update important data. And having a separate /home partition makes doing fresh installs for upgrades much easier.
But, in general, it is always best to do a clean install rather than an upgrade. That said, many distros have put effort forth to have a clean upgrade path from earlier versions. I am not particular familiar with how successful these upgrades are, since I have historically only done clean installs to upgrade, and currently run Arch, which is rolling release.
Which brings me to my next point. Arch Linux, Sidux, and PCLinuxOS, I believe, are all rolling release distros. Which means there are no "releases" per se. They put out updated installation media periodically, but these are basically snapshots of the current state of the distro. You upgrade your packages periodically and in theory you never need to reinstall and will always have the current version of the distro.
Many users successfully upgrade their Linux (whichever distro) from one release to another. While it's true that some users have fewer problems with a fresh install, it is by no means a hard and fast rule. Upgrading is supposed to work fine; if it doesn't, it's usually due to bugs or user error.
You might be interested in a "rolling release" distribution. Rolling release does not have distinct releases or versions. You install it once, and applications are continually updated as new versions become available. Popular rolling release distros include Arch, Debian Testing, Sidux, etc.
Be aware however that rolling release is not magic. It has its own set of problems and headaches. On a stable distro (like Opensuse), you have a big transition every 6 months or so when a new release comes out. With rolling release, you have many constant small transitions. So it depends how you like to do your system maintenance: a little bit each day/week, or a big leap once or twice a year?
So it depends how you like to do your system maintenance: a little bit each day/week, or a big leap once or twice a year?
A point I should have made as well. Rolling release generally requires that you pay more attention to upgrades and what's going on with your system. Sidux and Arch at least, are geared towards more experienced users, Arch especially so.
I have previously had my systems with seperate /home partitions, and upgraded my OpenSUSE and Ubuntu machines with no consequent problems, and no loss of data. The systems seem relatively clean afterwards as well.
The only time I have ever lost data was in moving things from a Windows partition to my new Home partition, and we had a powercut. That said, I managed to rescue most of it, thanks to Linux tools.
Debian has a long history of providing relatively pain free upgrades from release-to-release. Debian is a good option if you want to install only once for the life of the computer, and want a very stable system.
...openSuse may be it....But I read recently that people prefer to do a fresh install of a newer version of openSuse, instead of upgrading it, apparently because of problems that may occur by the upgrade.
Yes, and I'm one of them.
Bear in mind that for openSUSE, the 'set new repositories and allow the package manager to do the update' is a relatively recent innovation (since 11.2, I think) and may not be as well sorted in corner cases, as, say debian, which has been doing this for ever.
Equally, I find that an occasional fresh start is a good way to clear out some cruft and get better organised.
I don't want to make a fresh new install each and every time that my disro. has a new version...
Well, you don't have to upgrade just because there is a new version out. OTOH, you do have to upgrade once security fixes for that version disappear, if you want to remain safe.
I'm afraid to lose the data in that installation, and backing-up the data would be a headache.
You need back-ups anyway, get used to it...well, actually the questions are how often and how comprehensive.
Usually, with a separate /home partition, you keep all of the data in /home (which is all your data, except for any config of services in /etc, and which you may not want after an upgrade...a 'safety copy' oif /etc is good, but I wouldn't recommend automatically using the old stuff from /etc after an upgrade)
My system has been running Debian sid for 6 yrs this month. I do apt-get dist-upgrade every few days, haven't had to mess with installing since I first installed Debian. Even had to replace the motherboard, cpu, upgraded ram and video card. Still runs great.
Having to reinstall means the distro sucks. You should never have to reinstall unless you screw up your own system beyond repair.
For RHEL/Centos, you can update minor version changes in place eg 5.3 -> 5.4, but it is highly recommended that a major version change eg v4 -> v5 you do a fresh install. A major change means what it says. In fact RH do not support an in-place upgrade across major versions, although theoretically it can be done.
If this is your first Linux distro, I'd strongly advise you to get one of the "friendly" ones. As Reed said, Sidux and Arch are regarded as being for experienced users. I'd say that applied to Debian as well: the installer in the current version is less helpful than the Fedora one was five years ago. I'm not saying Debian's a bad distro — it's a very good one — but it's not beginner friendly.
Try Mint, Ubuntu, or Fedora (decreasing order of friendliness). I have no experience of the first two, but Fedora upgrades very safely.