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June 29, 2013 / Jim Fenton

The Non-annual Linux Non-upgrade

Each of the past three years, I have written a blog post in January describing my experiences upgrading my home Linux machine from Fedora n to Fedora n+2.  I had started with Fedora Core 4 and upgraded religiously once a year to make sure that I received maintenance patches, especially security fixes. The past few years, I ran into various issues that I attempted to document to compensate for some of the help that I have been receiving from receiving others’ blogs.

I expected to do the same this year.  But Fedora 18 came out rather late, well after the Holiday break that was usually my opportunity to do the upgrade.  My upgrade on top of upgrade strategy was beginning to show cracks: some things like my /boot partition being too small were causing problems. Perhaps it was time for a fresh install. So I went to my local computer store for a new 500 GB disk drive, which set me back surprisingly little.

But since I was doing a new install, I was no longer tied to Fedora. The early reviews on Fedora 18 were less than stellar, and the virtual private servers I use to supplement my home system generally run Debian. So I checked with a friends, and Ubuntu (which is derived from Debian) seemed to be the leading recommendation, so I went with it.

First a bit of a rant: Why do the various flavors of Linux seem to call things by different names (and not consistently, either), seemingly only for the sake of different names?  Is the name server daemon named, bind, or bind9?  Is the web server httpd, apache, or apache2? One of the biggest adjustments has been the naming changes and the different locations of configuration files and such.

Despite Ubuntu’s somewhat different look and feel from Fedora, things went fairly smoothly following the conversion with a few exceptions:

  • Under Fedora, I had run bind9 (or whatever the proper name is) in a “chroot jail”: it was able to address only a small portion of the file system, that it owned. I tried doing the same under Ubuntu, and nothing worked. It turned out that Ubuntu was running something called AppArmor, which restricted the bind’s access to the file system without using the chroot option. In fact, the two mechanisms worked against each other; I ended up turning off Bind’s chroot option, and adjusting the AppArmor configuration to give it the permissions to access zone and configuration files and libraries.
  • UIDs changed on the new system; they seem to be starting at 1000 rather than 500 now. Rather than mess with trying to change the start point back to 500, I brought files and directories over from the old filesystem and changed their ownership as needed, usually using the find command.

Due to the variety of things I run on my system, I have had to tweak a few other options, but nothing very drastic. It has been running for 2 or 3 months now, and there have been few problems. Ubuntu is now telling me that there’s a release 13.04 available; I need to get up to speed on how often these releases happen (looks like every 6 months) and how long they’re supported (looks like a year, except for “long term support” versions) so I can get on the upgrade bandwagon like the one I did with Fedora.

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