Succesfull upgrade of ideapad from openSUSE 11.2 to 11.4

posted Mar 21, 2011, 5:11 PM by Safepark Company   [ updated Jun 22, 2011, 9:22 AM by Webadmin Safepark Consultancy ]
Tonight Niels completed a succesfull upgrade of his Lenovo ideapad S-10-2 from running openSUSE 11.2 to running openSUSE 11.4. The upgrade took about 7 hours using the wireless internet connection of the notebook. Further details about this online upgrade of a running operating system will be made available tomorrow or Wednesday.

But basically the proceedure involve using the command line tool zypper, and the procedure available at the web-site.

Here are the detailed steps

First you need a list of your current repositories, and we suggest saving this to a file with the following command
zypper lr >
You then need to gedit to edit this file, so you can use it to remove existing reporsitories. We found it desirable to remove old repositories instead of just disabling them, at suggested in the procedure posted on the web-site. The lines in are edited to the form
zypper rr reponame
Then all old repositories are removed using the command (remember to fist give the file execution priviliges):
Our to be used when upgrading from 11.4 to 11.5 are attached below. In the file you can use alias names for the repositories. 
Next you need to create a file, which creates the repositories, which you use for performing the upgrade. We have edited the file we used for the comming upgrade from 11.4 to 11.5, and attached it below. Creating this file is very important to the success of your online upgrade. Prior to this procedure becomming official, we use a similar approach, but unfortunately had omitted a key repository, and ended with a white screen after a reboot. In the current upgrade we added the Nvidia repository, the Google Chrome repository, the Printing repository and the Packman repository to the standard ones. Ones you are comfortable with the contect of you execute the following command (remember also to give the file execution priviliges):
We suggest checking, that all repositories have been added with the command 'zypper lr'. The rest of the upgrade is two simple steps:
zypper ref
to refresh all repositories and create local metadata information, and finally upgrade with
zypper dup
and wait. Our upgrade using a wireless internet connection took more than 7 hours. But, then after a single reboot we were running the latest openSUSE 11.4.

Why upgrade online?

This online upgrade was attempted for the following reasons:
  • The Lenovo IdeaPad does not contain any DVD drive, so conventional upgrade by downloading a DVD image, burning it, and making a fresh install would have required access to an external DVD drive.
  • To demonstrate, that control system running on openSUSE may be upgraded with very little downtime for the system. During the upgrade you could still access the internet, so in a control environment you would still be able to monitor and control the plant. Our system was only down during the final reboot. (At the end of 'zypper dup' you can execute 'zypper ps' to find which processes need to be restarted after the upgrade. There are properly tools to performs these restarts from a terminal window. However, currently we would not recommend this on a running control system).
Now about the experience. The upgrade from idea to reboot properly took mere than eigth hours. Clearly it would have taken less time to perform a fresh install form a downloaded DVD image. At the start of 'zypper dup' you are asked to accept certain licenses. Similarly when adding som repositories, you are asked to accept there keys, e.g. in our case with the NVidia repository. So if you think about combining the above steps to a single upgrade command file, you need to make sure the required responses are possible.

Occassionally during our 7 hour 'zypper dup' upgrade our terminal would turn light grey. We don't know why, but at least during these times the system could not be used. However, none of these led to upgrade abort. Also occassionaly we saw incorret permissons on config file, e.g 2755 in stead of 0755. These still have to be investigated based on the log file.

The initial install of openSUSE on this computer required a special download of software for the wireless network dirver. This time this was not necessary, properly because the openSUSE project gather information about successful user deployments. This is done in a very transparent maner, and you can always say know.

A key benefit of online upgrading is that after the reboot your system is completely operational with the services, which you have spent time creating since the first install or previous upgrade, e.g. samba services, svn repositories or FreeNX access.

Also understand, that our upgrade involved a system with both GNome and KDE installed as well as all development tools. On a system used for control properly only one user interface is installed, and properly NO development tools. On such system the upgrade would take considerable less time. At the end of the first part of 'zypper dup' it reported how many packages would be removed, how many would be upgraded, and the total amount of packages to be downloaded would be about 1.9 GB - less than half a DVD download.

As a final note the experience of this upgrade is must like the upgrades of Honeywell PMX process control systems, which I experienced in the early and mid eigthies in the chemical industry. A lot of preparation, followed by a short suspence during a final restart or maybe it is mainframe technology comming to the desktop?

Update June 2011

Due to some unfortunate events a re-install of the above system was needed. Too much experimentation resulted in YaST being unusable. The re-install was done from a DVD image, and this actually showed a major advantage of the inline update process - if you have a running and up to date system.

The Lenovo ideapad 10-2 comes with Broadcom 43xx wireless adapters, and these adapter has to have firmware added to work with any release of openSUSE. Unfortunately this firmware is not included on the DVD. This makes it impossible to use a wireless connection to add the latest fixes during the upgrade process.

Also while most of the software I need is on the DVD. The Broadcom firmware is not, and neither are the following applications: Google Chrome, Google Picasa, Spideroak, Texmaker, Skype, Scribus, NX Client. Beginning to look at bit like with the OS from Redmond? I think so!

During this upgrade my ISP decided to double both the download and the upload speeds. However, that did not accur with some minor hicups. The DNS of my ISP could not connect to for updates and security patches. I actually had to change to the Google DNS at and both in the card configuration and in the router before I got a stable connection to

Conclusion: When I need to upgrade to the next release of openSUSE in the fall or early next year then I will properly again choose the inline upgrade path.
Safepark Company,
Mar 22, 2011, 8:54 AM
Safepark Company,
Mar 22, 2011, 2:18 AM