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Old 02-13-2009, 12:07 PM   #1
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Replacing RHEL 4.6 with RHEL 5.3

I haven't used any flavor of unix in five years so please pardon my rust.

I was given an RHEL 5.3 server distribution mounted on a Windows CD-ROM to install on a Linux 4.6 box.

I used a tool called Tunnelier (an SSH2 Client) to move the contents of the CD to a directory (RHEL53-SERVER) off of the root directory of the RHEL 4.6 machine.

The manual implies that it is better to ‘fresh install’ 5.3 over 4.6 instead of upgrading 4.6 to 5.3. Do you have any opinions on this?

In the distribution directory, should I just execute “/images/boot”, or is there more to it than that?

The manual says something about a hard disk install requiring the use of an ISO image (exact copy of the DVD/CD Rom). It says then reference the ISO image with the install program.

The problem was that the server distribution disk was mounted on a CD ROM on a WINDOWS machine, so after I copied the distribution to the RHEL 4.6 Box, should I just do:

dd if=/RHEL53-SERVER of=/tmp/RHEL53-SERVER.iso
linux mediacheck tmp/RHEL53-SERVER.iso

Sorry about being so rhetorical...............

Are there any other ‘Gotchas’ that I should know about?
Old 02-13-2009, 11:41 PM   #2
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I think if you try to continue along these lines you are going to be in all sorts of pain!

You can't replace your RH 4.6 while it is running the computer. The usual thing is to boot off an installation CD so you are running the copy of linux on the CD. Then you can overwrite anything on the disk with impunity.

So if you want to use your CD you will need to have a CD drive attached and set as the boot device in the BIOS menu.

It's almost certainly better to do a fresh install than try an upgrade, especially skipping multiple versions. Is there personal/non-system stuff on the disk and can you back it up somewhere?

Sorry if I have misunderstood what you are proposing - but it doesn't look very promising
Old 02-14-2009, 03:00 AM   #3
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in-place upgrade for rhel

While in-place upgrades are supported for non major releases ie. going fro rhel 4.5 ro 4.6, major upgrades require the use of the bootable cds/dvd

the difference between 4.x and 5.x are significant enough that i'd try getting the bootable iso again and do an upgrade via the recommended method.

in your case maybe you can export the dvd content to another machine and export this via nfs then use boot.iso, would need to experiment.

good luck!
Old 02-15-2009, 03:50 PM   #4
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Thanks to both of you for responding.

The 5.3 installation manual implies that you can install off the hard disk - which also makes me nervous for the same reasons as it does you.

I don't have physical access to the machine which is why I was looking at doing it that way - knowing that if anything at all goes wrong in the install, I'm cooked.

The original Disk that contains the distribution is the server distribution downloaded from Redhat (someone else downloaded it) - I do not know if is a bootable CD.

If I did have the disk physically in the CD-ROM drive of the machine that I was going to install on, do I just boot off of it?

Is the name of the install program Anaconda?

If you were me, would you push this back to the sys admin group (who are very un-responsive)at my company?

After reading your responses, that's what I'm leaning toward.

Thanks Again
Old 02-15-2009, 06:34 PM   #5
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Doing an install without physical access is a very dangerous business unless you have something like an IP KVM + remote power control or a full featured IPMI/Lights Out Management system on the server. You could do a hard drive install, but for things like this I generally just use pxelinux to PXE boot the installation kernel and load the initrd with Anaconda (yes -- Anaconda is the install program), but again without physical access or its moral equivalent, this is very dangerous and it's very possible to screw up in such a way that you can't recover.

The install disk should be bootable, and yes, you just need to pop it into the drive, boot (assuming the machine is set to boot off the CD), and go.

Since you haven't touched a Linux system in a long time, I would definitely ask for help from the sys admin group, particularly if the server contains mission critical data. If there's anything important at all on it, you really need to back up before you start. In theory, an upgrade should be non-destructive, but things can and do go wrong. Oh yes, and do remember to test your back-ups before you start. In general, though, if you feel unsure about this it's best to let someone more knowledgeable help.
Old 02-16-2009, 03:00 AM   #6
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If the ISO file was downloaded from the RHN website then it is bootable but not the point here unfortunately.

In your specific case I would lean towards asking the sysadmin group to help you on this, upgrading using the iso image would be too dangerous and the risks are high. As mentionned before you _may_ want a backup of the existing data if they are critical.

In the case of an update (4.x to 4.x+1) rather than an upgrade (4 to 5), I have done it several times remotely over the console, it save me from asking the sysadmins who are in a different location.

I am happy to document the procedure if you want it for later use, just shout.

Old 02-16-2009, 12:24 PM   #7
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Have the distribution in the CD ROM drive now

The system admin has placed the server distribution in the CD ROM drive of the RHEL 4.6 machine.

I still do not have physical access to the machine.

The distribution has an /images/boot ISO file on it.

1. I don't know if ( and if it is necessary) this machines BIOS is set up to boot off the CD-ROM drive by default.

2. Do I simply mount the CD-ROM and execute /images/boot?

3. Where does Anaconda come into play in all of this?

4. I'll have a TTY to this machine - is the Install program character based or a GUI? If a GUI, do I have to set my Diplay to the machine that I am physically at?

Again - thanks for your help.

If anyone could please give me the steps, I'd really appreciate it - never used Redhat before.

Old 02-16-2009, 12:51 PM   #8
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Ok, [1] and [2] describe a CentOS remote instalation, this is definitely applicable in your case. Obviously you need to point to the install media.
I will try to do it as well, i want to see how it works too now


read through and come back with any questions you might have


Last edited by thierrys; 02-16-2009 at 12:54 PM.
Old 03-02-2009, 05:28 AM   #9
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ok, it's been a while and you may have moved on but I never quite managed to get it to work that way.
anaconda docs says it can boot from hdd but i have not yet managed to get to behave in a stable way.
do you have access to another box? I am thinking either:
1- create a separate installation server with Cobbler/koan or a simple NFS server then I can help more
2- ask the sysadmin to do it for you even if it's a PITA


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