Another upgrade of openSUSE from 11.2 to 11.4

posted Sep 12, 2011, 7:11 AM by Webadmin Safepark Consultancy   [ updated Sep 18, 2011, 12:04 PM ]
We recently had another experience with upgrading a system form openSUSE 11.2, for which security patches are no longer availalbe, to openSUSE 11.4. At first an on-line upgrade was attempted. The system in question was LIFE computer with less than 1 GB of memory, a 75 GB harddrive, a NVidia GeForce FX 5200 graphics card, and an old IBM 10 GB SCSI drive plus a PRISM wireless network card.

The usual replacement of all software souces was done by first removing the 11.2 sources, and then adding and refreshing the equivalent 11.4 sources. Then the online upgrade was started, and it appeared to go fine. Except, that the screen was black during the upgrade, and the system hence unaccessible. At the of the upgrade it was necessary to force a power off of the system and a reboot, but the GRUB came up showing the old 11.2 kernels only. The default was selected and the new 11.4 kernel started in runlevel 3. From here is was possible to login and startx - appearantly only KDE - from the command line. Once running in full screen graphical desktop mode we were able to access the internet using the PRISM wireless card in the system. However, we could start YaST, but none of the YaST features we tried worked.

I was then decided to re-install 11.4 from a previously downloaded DVD using reformating of the root partition, but leaving the home particition untouched. This worked quite well using the automatic hardware configuration. However,  we did not succeed in getting the network properly configured during the install, and hence the usual software update had to bypassed. After re-booting we were able to get wireless networking running using KNetworkManager. 

Then all security and other patches were applied to the system. Finally some additional software was installed. Using YaST the opensource java was replaced with the Sun Java, Adobe Reader was installed, Scribus was installed, VirtualBox was installed, and UFRaw was installed. Sun Java is needed to use the Danish secure login system for all public services NemID. UFRaw is needed to manipulated raw pictures from Canon's 550D. Additionally we installed Googles chrome browser and picasa photoediting software from respectively www.google.com/chrome and www.google.com/picasa using the 1-click install. Finally we installed Cups-PDF from software.opensuse.org, FreeNX from en.opensuse.org/FreeNX, and VLC media player from www.videolan.org/vlc also using the 1-click install. With a similar 1-click install the proprietary driver for our NVidia graphics card was installed. In order to be able to test the remote desktop access the latest NoMachine client for linux was downloaded from www.nomachine.com and installed by clicking on the rpm-file. Finally the latest linux driver for our Xerox 7345 with professional finisher and hole punch was downloaded from www.support.xerox.com/support/dadk.html. However, with the PPD-file downloaded in this package we were unable to get color printing to work, so we replaced it with an older PPD-file we had, and then color printing was working. Finally we installed our online backup client from www.spideroak.com.

This upgrade was performed to create access to patches for the OS. The time involved - without considering the partially failed and aborted online upgrade - was approximate one working day. This could be reduced somewhat by downloading the additional applications, such as chrome, picasa, vlc, FreeNX to a USB drive and creating an install script for these applications. We are considering this when upgrading to a new 64-bit server later this fall. The system in question is used by a small church council in Denmark, and with the current usage a 1½ day unavailability is acceptable, since documents could still be accessed using our online backup service.

After installation the openSUSE system complained about an excessive number of problem areas - relocaed blocks -on our old (vintage 1999) IBM SCSI drive. So we will not used that drive for anything critical.
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