Fedora Pre-Upgrade: Finally!

As many of you know, according to the Google search terms that bring people here.  I am of the not-so-humble opinion that Fedora’s upgrade process is about as pleasant as being forced to walk through the desert without a canteen of water.  First of all, they recommend to just do a fresh install which is a non-starter for me.  I’d have to waste way too much time restoring all my files and settings.  Ubuntu and Debian seem to get me through upgrades without reinstalling without any problems.  I blogged about the horrors up upgrading to Fedora 8 here and here.  I blogged about how awesome the yum upgrade worked here, here, here, and here.

Well, although Seth Vidal and Will Woods aren’t quite ready to support live upgrades just yet.  They did mention in Red Hat Magazine that they were working on Fedora Pre-Upgrade to address some of the issues.  Here they explain what are most likely to be seen as the best features:

Will Woods: A traditional Anaconda upgrade involves downloading and burning media. This is time-consuming and a bit wasteful–the media contains upgrades for packages you probably don’t have installed, but lacks upgrades for packages from the Everything repo or from third-party repos. So you’ll still need to download upgrades after the upgrade finishes!

If you upgrade over the network, you download a lot less data, but you have to sit and wait while anaconda fetches all those packages.

The PreUpgrade feature has two parts:

1) A GUI for F8 that downloads the F9 installer and *only* the packages your system needs to upgrade.

Seth Vidal: The boring part of an anaconda upgrade is when it resolves out what you need based on what’s installed and when it then downloads all the packages you need to do the upgrade. It’s boring, it is potentially error-prone when using flaky network connections, too.

So preupgrade uses the same depsolving logic from anaconda/yum, downloads all the metadata and packages you need while your normal system is running. So while you play tuxcart or other work the boring part of the anaconda upgrade is happening in another window.

Will Woods: This saves you time and bandwidth – and you don’t have to burn CDs/DVDs either.

2) Anaconda support for upgrading from a bunch of packages that are already on the target system.

Once everything is downloaded, you hit the “reboot” button and your system magically reboots into the Fedora 9 installer. It finds everything you’ve downloaded and installs using that.

So we see some of the biggest annoyances with doing CD upgrades being resolved.  You don’t have to download a ton of packages and burn them to a CD if you don’t even have them installed.  Also, if I understand this correctly, the package resolution will be done while you download.  Therefore, like upgrading Ubuntu, you should be able to keep using your distro while you upgrade.  That’s always been another HUGE pet peeve for me.  If you only have one computer, you’re left without using your computer while you upgrade.  Extremely frustrating!

I’m glad to see Red Hat and the Fedora community finally listening.  I’m glad that I’ve stuck it through with Fedora as my main distro.  When Fedora first came out, they were quite mean at times saying, “The next version will come out when it comes out!”  and “If you don’t upgrade our way, you’re on your own!”  Now they publish deadlines and have huge communications with us.  Before I think they were still in corporate mode.  Now they are truly in community mode.


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