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Full Version: Upgrading The Kernel
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So I don't have any tips or tricks on this, but I was wondering if someone cold give me some. I have noticed that some far more advanced linux users than myself use old kernels (or old version of linux all togeather) and I was wondering why that is. When the new kernel showed up in my up2date box I was about to go ahead an install it and than I thought about it and decieded to ask. So any one have any ideas about knowing when to upgrade?
Upgrading the Kernel is something that can cause major problems to your system ...

If you have compiled any modules for your current kernel that aren't included in the new kernel you will have to recompile those modules again. Some things that come to mind are nvidia graphics and NForce chipset drivers, ATI Graphics drivers, wireless network card drivers, etc.

That being said, the kernel updates often contain important security upgrades and allow for more hardware support and normally provide better I/O, etc.

I run Unix/Linux servers in a production database environment, and I only apply security patches and fixes to specific problems on those machines ... because they work stably and properly as is...and I can't afford for them to be down any longer than just to reboot after a kernel update. They have to work and be stable, they are, and if it ain't broke don't fix it (except for security exploits or other critcal fixes).

On workstations in production (after some testng) and on my boxes at home (that's how I normally test before production upgrades) I frequently upgrade all the packages to the latest and greatest ... so it just depends on the risk you are willing to accept.
So if I use up2date to update to the latest kernel than I will have to re-install all the NVIDIA drivers for my chip set and what not?
And if thatís true could you include a link for us new users to how just implement specific parts (like security up dates) into to the kernel?
Apparently, yes. I've just installed the 2.4.20 update the fixes that bug that got to be so popular on the Net and my network card stopped working. Even though I can bring up the interface eth0, it doesn't actually work. Also, modprob cannot find the file /lib/modules/2.4.20-xx-x/modules.dep (can't remember the xx-x numbers off hand) which exists (!!). Updates are always a pain, even if you have well-supported hardware.
Adding just the updates into the kernel would probably be much harder ... you would have to add a patch to the kernel source, then have to recompile your kernel ... and when you did, it would be renamed 2.4.20-xxxcustom, which would require you to rebuild your NVIDIA drivers anyway....
I work for a college as a computer labtech where we do alot of crazy stuff for class labs, but we have a solution for problems caused by things such as security patches, updates and upgrades. When we sit up systems and/or servers, we include removable drive bays. When we install the OS, we make a copy of it using GHOST or Powerquest Driveimage and then do frequent copies of the main system drive on a regular basis, especially before or after any upgrades, to another drive. Now keep in mind, this is on the systems using IDE drives, not SCSI/RAID systems. Before you do an update, copy your drive. Now you can do one of two things, keep the existing main drive in its bay and then do the updates, or put your back up drive in and do the updates as a test. You will always have a copy of your original system on hand either way you choose to go.

You can see the many possibilities. This way, you always have a full system back up on hand. We also use Powerquest Deploy Center to take care of imaging drives to original status after classes have come in and screwed everything up during labs. This is a very cost effective way to save alot of heartache. I do this at home as well and it saves me much heartache. It is also great for when I want to just through a new clean drive into a system just to install the latest and greatest release of a new OS. Plus, I can't say it enough, backup, then backup, then backup some more! Always do regular data backups on top of this to keep your data safe and current.
would it be easier to just reintall and have the update done at the time of reinstallation?
It is actaully pretty easy if you haven't had to install any extra module updates. It is just required that all the modules you compiled (like Nvidia/ATI Video drivers, NIC drivers, etc) must be recompiled ... if you didn't have to install drivers because everything was detected, it is very easy.

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