My latest crazy plan to upgrade my home Linux machine

February 17, 2011

My home Linux machine has a little problem in that it's still running Fedora 8 and I now really want to upgrade it. (I was quite enthused about Fedora 13, but I am now somewhat less enthused about Fedora 14.)

Now, I will admit that the real solution is to buy more or less all of a new machine to replace my now four and a half year old and slightly flaky hardware, install Fedora whatever on that hardware, take it home, and copy all of my data over. But, well, buying hardware for Linux is kind of a pain so I keep coming up with crazy upgrade plans so that I can avoid it.

The latest crazy plan relies on the twin facts that I have unused duplicate system partitions and that my home workstation is basically a clone of my office workstation in the first place. It goes like this:

  • buy a large hard drive in a USB enclosure; I need one for backups anyways.
  • dump my office workstation's system filesystems to the drive and take it home.

  • restore the office system filesystems to the unused system partitions. Since my office workstation is an up to date Fedora 14 system, this will give me the filesystems of an 'upgraded' system; it just won't have my home machine's customizations.

  • at my leisure, customize these filesystems to have the changes I need for my home machine.
  • when customization is complete, boot from the Fedora 14 filesystems instead of my existing Fedora 8 install. If it works, great, I'm done; if not, I can boot back into Fedora 8 and do more work.

This will give me a somewhat tangled machine, but it's not as if my current Fedora install is a beautiful clean thing; after all, it dates from 2006 and has been upgraded successively since then.

(I know that Fedora recommends reinstalling from scratch instead of upgrading, but I find that both infeasible and too annoying. If I was going to do that regularly, I would need a rather different system setup than I currently have.)

Comments on this page:

From at 2011-02-19 00:57:39:

I've had similar thoughts, although my home machine is actually up-to-date (because it's Debian and was running unstable for years until squeeze came out; I'm enjoying various things working for a while), but is also something like eight years old, has a weird mix of IDE and SATA, an old single-core processor without support for virtualization, what now seems like a tiny amount of memory (1.5 GBs!), and so on. If I were to build a new machine or do a clean install, I would either build it at work and take it home (which is what I did with this one) or I would bring this one in (after making backups) and wipe it and rebuild it.

But as you mentioned buying an external drive anyway, you could easily download all the packages for a recent install to that drive and also backup to it, and then use the downloaded packages to do a clean install on your extra partitions. Or you could buy an enclosure and a couple of drives, do a fresh install on one drive while at work, take them both home, do backups, then swap the drives around.

My own stalling is due to my barely using my current machine (as I have a nice work laptop I carry back and forth) and simultaneously feeling like if I were to replace it, I should get something really whizzy with lots of processors and RAM that would, again, most likely sit around underused, only now I would have spent a lot of money on it and thus feel even worse.


From at 2011-02-19 09:54:32:

If you want to get a list of hardware for a home machine/workstation that runs Linux, you can always have someone else do all the "QA" testing for you--though you may pay a bit more. For example, there's this animation software called Maya that is certified for use (with Fedora) on machines from particular vendors:

The page also includes a list of qualified graphics cards (both NVidia and AMD/ATI).

You may pay more than a generic white box from (say) Canada Computers, but you'll get a decently designed/engineered machine that should hopefully give you a minimum of fuss. One thing though is that most of the system listed are a bit heavy-duty, as Maya is a program that you generally don't want to run slow.

Generally speaking I've found that Linux hardware support is pretty good, especially if you stick with an NVidia-based graphics chipset (drivers tend to be more stable than AMD/ATI's).

From at 2011-05-28 07:29:59:

or just get ak a Scientific Linux 6 live usb iso and install it. You will be done for a couple of years then.

Written on 17 February 2011.
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