Live upgrade of Fedora 8 to Fedora 9

As noted below, Fedora 9 came out recently, and I think its time my work computer would get a “brain transplant”. I can’t have a lot of downtime on this machine – its the one I do most of my work on, so this upgrade needs to be a “live updated” – I can’t afford the time to shut it down, load an installation of even a live CD (that doesn’t have my environment) and wait until it installs.

This is how to do a live update from your old Fedora to the Fedora 9. We can do the upgrade using the Fedora graphical tools, or through the command line. If you feel comfortable in a shell, then its probably the safer way to go, otherwise you should start by installing the graphical package manager Yumex, it is available through the “Add/Remove Software” feature of Fedora. Yumex is more powerful then the default package manager that Fedora comes with and it has some features which will make this upgrade possible.

The below process is for a 64 bit installation. For 32 bit (i386) the process is about the same though you’d need the 32 bit release packages (and not those linked here), and also please don’t mind the i386 gotcha at the end.

  • The first part is to download and install the Fedora release packages, which contains the OS definition and release notes, located here:

Download and select packages

  • You can download and install these packages using the graphical installer – select both packages that you’ve download and right click and select “Install Software”:Install the Fedora 9 package

    The following screen will pop up, detailing the list of packages to be installed:

    Installing fedora packakges

    After clicking on “Apply”, the installer will process the packages:
    Finished installation of Fedora packages
  • If you prefer the command line, just use RPM to install the packages directly from the web site instead of downloading them:

rpm -Uhv

  • To start the upgrade run Yumex. It will take a while to load and parse the upgrade package list, and then it will offer the list of available upgrades. Just click “Add All”:Yumex with an upgrade
    Then click “Process Queue” to start the process.
    Yumex Final OK
    Yumex will then take a while to prcess and list the packages that will be upgraded. Click OK to download and install Fedora 9.
  • Using the command line, just run this at the shell:

yum clean all
yum upgrade -y

  • After the installation finishes, restart your computer to get Fedora 9 running.


There are some gotchas in the upgrade. Granted, Fedora 9 uses a slew of brand new technologies – upstart from Ubuntu replaces the legacy init, PackageKit replaces Yum frontends as the way to manage software from the desktop, GVFS replaces the old GNOME VFS, and more – so it stands to reason that the upgrade isn’t going to be smooth. Still – it was incredibly smooth migration path in Ubunto from 7.04 through 7.10 to 8.04 even though Ubuntu had almost as much major changes during that time (and I didn’t give then enough kudus on that in the Ubuntu upgrade post – its a fscking major achievement).

So that being said, here are some points to look out for:

  • Fedora 8 has some i386 packages that duplicate existing x86_64 packages – this will wreck havoc with the upgrade. If yum complains, simply remove all the i386 packages it complains about before trying the install again.
  • The reboot at the end of the upgrade wasn’t done well on my system – probably due to init being dumped. If the system freezes when you do the reboot, give it a minute and the kick the reset button
  • After starting, PAM kept crushing and I couldn’t log in. I traced it to broken samba installation. If you get this behavior, reboot the machine (CTRL-ALT-DEL should do) and start it in “single” more from the boot loader prompt. If the system seems to then hang after it has “mounting local filesystems”, just CTRL-C it and you should get the “single user” command prompt. Now use yum remove libsmbclient samba-common -y and rm -rf /var/lib/samba /usr/lib/samba. Then install the required services back using yum install -y nautilus. Now reboot again (using CTRL-ALT-DEL or the reboot command) and you should be fine
  • Either due to the upgrade or the destructive process described one point above, GVFS’s FUSE integration wasn’t installed. I recommend installing gvfs-fuse to get it back as its awesome – I can get Amarok (or Rythmbox or Banshee, whatever floats your boat) to read its media library from the windows network share. After you install gvfs-fuse make sure to log out and log in again (or do what I did – killall gvfsd-smb-browse gvfsd gvfsd-trash gvfsd-burn nautilus and then run nautilus again).

That’s it for now. As for first impressions, I can tell you that Fedora 9 is tons more snappy and responsive then Fedora 8 – My system was incredibly sluggish before and now it feels like a new computer. On the visual side GNOME 2.22 is not much different the GNOME 2.201 and I haven’t looked yet at KDE 4 that is bundled with it, so nothing much new. GVFS does make accessing remote folders slightly nicer, though I still haven’t decided what I think about its tendency to leave “mounted file systems” links on my desktop for every remote network share I access2.

If you try the upgrade process, please leave a note as to how your success was, and I also don’t mind helping out if you crash something :-).

Update 2

I found the crash was not related to Samba directly, but to using WINS for host name resolution. As most people don’t do that, I don’t think people would have the problem I had (as I described above). That being said, WINS name resolutions is very important in hetregenous networks, and I still don’t know why it crashes everything when I enable it (hadn’t actually the time to investigate – I just turned it off), and I still think its a crime not to enable it by default and to force people to actually edit configuration files, as root(!!) to enable this functionality.

  1. except for many important improvements in Evolution which was the main reason I switched now []
  2. I seem to remember it can be turned off as I did it that on my Ubuntu desktop, but can’t figure out where []

One Response to “Live upgrade of Fedora 8 to Fedora 9”

  1. Guss:

    i just finished listening to Linux Action Show’s review of Fedora 9, and their summary of the review is basically “OpenSuSE 11 look really attractive” 😉

    I can’t really fault them for that – Fedora 9 works (in the self-enforced limits of what they let themself work with) but after all the major overhauls that theyn did, its nothing to write home about.

Leave a Reply



Spam prevention powered by Akismet