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I use my Slackware Linux box as my primary machine. It's sitting on a home LAN that has some Windows machines on it for the rest of the family.
My problem is that I have tended to do a fresh install-from-CD, use the machine for years, and then get disappointed that I am so far out of date that I can't readily install new software versions. I've gone through this with Slackware 3.3 (still sitting on a machine that I have used to route the home LAN), and now I'm finding that my 6-year-old Slackware 7 installation is obsolete enough to also be an impediment.
I'm not an intensive user of the machine - between Opera with M2, and OpenOffice1.0, SSH and XTERM 90+% of what I do is covered. But I would like to update the first two items named, and I've seen other software that looks interesting but that I can't use because I have an older libc version.
What do other people do to stay fairly current with the underlying operating system and libraries on a functioning machine? Is running -current and staying up-to-date every week "safe" insofar as being fairly unlikely to break the system? I really need to use this machine every day, and I don't want the system updating to become the major task that I can accomplish on this box. If that is the right approach, what are the explicit steps to keep current?
Is there some other approach that's not quite so state-of-the-art that I can use to assure that I have a fairly stable and fairly up-to-date system on an ongoing basis?
Is it possible to run a bunch of updates sequentially to bring my Slackware 7.1 installation (Linux c300 2.2.16 #97 Fri Jun 16 19:45:30 PDT 2000 i686 unknown) up to a more recent state? I don't mind going a step at a time for a lot of steps if doing that will prevent me from having to re-install the applications that I'm using.
If this is covered elsewhere, just point me in the right direction. Thanks!
I follow -stable, i.e. I update whenever a new version comes out (started with 10.0, upgraded to 10.1, upgraded to 10.2). Between versions, I upgrade only when there is a security fix.
This way my machine is rock stable and quite up to date.
I don't follow -current because it's way much more work and it can break a bit easier.
Is running -current and staying up-to-date every week "safe" insofar as being fairly unlikely to break the system? I really need to use this machine every day, and I don't want the system updating to become the major task that I can accomplish on this box. If that is the right approach, what are the explicit steps to keep current?
No, in your situation you don't want -current. Most people will tell you to run a stable branch, use Slackpkg for updates within that branch, read the applicable changelog, and then use a reliable guide like THIS for system version upgrades.
I've been doing clean installs of 10.0, 10.1, and 10.2 with good results. I did an upgrade of my Ubuntu boxes at work, it went okay, but, I have weird authentication errors on occasion when I run synaptic.
Now to decide whether to go for a clean install or attempt to update my existing system!
I have only upgraded one version at a time so I would probably go for a last clean install if I were you. After that, you can follow the instructions that come with every new version which describe the update process from the last version to the new one.
I manually keep up to date on important applications, but leave the core libraries untouched until an actual release. Mainly because I've had bad experiences updating even seemingly simple things like openssh. I'm on the slackware security mailing list, so I catch any important updates that way.
For the big release updates, I've just been following the upgrade instructions given by Pat. I installed 10.0 a while back and upgrading worked fine right up to this day. If you have lots of custom setups and tweaks I highly recommend it. Heck, you may as well give upgrading a try first, if it doesn't work then you can clean install. I've never had any problems with upgrading, and to me clean install seems like a last resort.