So the new Ubuntu is here and you’re just dying to upgrade and have a look at all the new features! With just a few simple steps you’ll be up and running the new system in no time! Before you dive right in, there are a few things you should know, and a few ways to (hopefully) make your upgrade process more pleasant.
This article is broken up into sections outlining the preparation, requirements and upgrade steps needed for each platform. It is important to follow the steps in order to ensure a full and painless upgrade. Also, please follow only one of the upgrade paths. In other words, there are different methods for a Desktop as compared to a Server. You only need to follow those steps applicable to you.
A Note Regarding Upgrades vs Fresh Installations
You may be wondering whether it is better to upgrade your current installation or do a fresh install from CD. There are benefits to doing a fresh installation to be sure, but there are also benefits to upgrading your system in place. I know people that swear by one method, and others that swear by another. In the end, both methods are supported and will give you the same Ubuntu experience.
Fresh installations will require a complete wipe of your hard disk. This means that you’ll need to backup any important documents, pictures or other files that you’ll want to keep. Have you ever done a fresh installation before and realized only too late that you forgot to back something up? I have. It’s easy to miss something. Using the in-place upgrade methods found in this article you won’t need to worry about backups.
With an in-place upgrade you can generally keep working on your machine while applications are upgraded in the background. This means you can continue to browse the web or send and receive email while the system is upgraded.
Bottom line is that upgrades are thoroughly tested and just as well supported as fresh installations.
When upgrading your system from one release to the next, there are certain requirements that you must meet in order to be successful. First of all, and most importantly in this instance, this upgrade path is only possible from Ubuntu 9.04 “Jaunty Jackalope” to Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala”. If you are using a release previous to 9.04 (8.10 or earlier), stop now. This upgrade process will not work, is not supported and will likely cause problems.
If you are unsure which version you have installed, you can run this command in your terminal to find out. (Applications > Accessories > Terminal)
If you find that you are on a release previous to Ubuntu 9.04, you will need to decide whether it is best to do a fresh installation or do an incremental upgrade leading up to 9.10. Incremental upgrades, as well as fresh installations are beyond the scope of this article, but there is detailed documentation on the matter found here:
Once you have verified that you are using Ubuntu 9.04 “Jaunty Jackalope” you will be able to begin the upgrade proccess. In order for the latest version to become available to you, you’ll need to apply any pending updates to your current version.
There are two ways to apply available updates pending a system upgrade. The first method applies to the graphical Desktop or Laptop platform. The second method applies to a server, or non-graphical installation. Remember, please only follow the steps applicable to you.
Graphical Updates (Pre-Upgrade)
If you are using the graphical environment you can check for and apply updates by way of the Update Manager tool. This can be found by navigating to: (System > Administration > Update Manager).
This tool will automatically scan for and list any pending updates. Be sure to apply all available updates before moving to the next step. You can ensure that there are no more pending updates by clicking Check and verifying that it displays the message “Your system is up to date”.
Command Line Updates (Pre-Upgrade)
For those more comfortable with the command line interface, or those running a non-graphical Server installation, you can run the following command to check for and apply any available system updates.
sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude safe-upgrade && sudo aptitude full-upgrade
Apply any updates that are pending from the command above before you move to the next step. You can repeat this command until no more updates are offered to ensure you are ready.
Now that you have applied the remainder of the updates for your current system, you can move to the next step. In the next step, Selecting a Mirror, you will learn how to use an alternate, often faster, package repository for your updates. This means that instead of using the default and often overwhelmed main Ubuntu servers for updates you can configure your system to use one closer to you. This often results in faster downloads and upgrades.