Saturday, November 28, 2009

eXtreme uPdating

I had that machine sitting in my living room which was once a media player, but is now (after I implemented VDR recording playback on my satellite STB :-) ) only used for playing back the recordings of my i4l-vbox answering machine. It was still running 10.3.
Now, having read that 10.3 was out of service, I decided to finally kill it.
So how to do that with style? Well, update it!

I removed the 10.3 repos and added the 11.0 repos. (Does anybody still remember how slow package management actually was back then? It was horrible!) I did not trust the old zypper to already having implemented a proper "zypper dup", so I updated with the YaST FACTORY module.
At first, YaST FACTORY updater refused to do a 10.3=>11.0 update. Well, edit the SuSE-release file and voila - it thinks it's a 11.0=>11.0 update.
Only a few Package conflicts (I had lots of stuff installed, including self-built RPMs and Packman packages) and thus half an hour waiting for the resolver, then I found out, that the packaging had switched from bzip2 to lzma at that time, so yast could not really install anything, but updating rpm manually behind YaST's back solved that. About four hours later (this is a lowly Toshiba Tecra with P3-1000 and 256MB RAM), I had 11.0 on the machine.

To my big disappointment, everything was still working!
Ok, so remove the 11.0 repos, add the 11.1... and zypper dup you go. Now I did not even have to patch SuSE-release...
Again, a few hours later (zypper was faster on 11.0, but not as fast as today), I had an 11.1 on the machine. And still, everything was working well, there even was still KDE3 on it.

I had intended to kill the machine, so I was not satisfied.
Remove 11.1 repos, add 11.2, zypper dup....
Yes! Finally, the X server did not produce a picture on my LCD TV (which is pretty picky about the VGA input signal, but did work before) anymore. Strike! But it was easily fixed: I just removed xorg.conf and at least had a 800x600 KDE4 Desktop. Installing sax2 (it had become lost in some conflicts, which I generally solved by "remove everything") and calling it fixed that up also.

What was actually a pity is, that no attempt had been made to import the KDE3 config (I had a few custom mime types etc, and now will have to reconfigure everything from scratch), but apart from that, the only thing I had to do was remove the kdm from KDE3 which was still installed and use the KDE4 kdm, so that logout and shutdown etc. properly work.

All in all it was pretty impressive, and I thought by myself "that's like the stories the debian users always tell about upgrades".

...and even though I wanted to, I will probably not get to do a fresh installation of 11.2, since all my updates went so well ;)

But what I found out in the end was, that KDE4 is really no longer usable on such a machine. Everything was very slow and sluggish, even with eye candy turned off as much as possible. But for the projected use of this box, XFCE will do just fine.


  1. Hi gentleman,

    You seem to be susceptible about the ability to upgrade to a newer release of openSUSE using the distribution tools. As you can see it is easier than what the common opinion says. It is just about experience using any Linux Distro. It is good that you described a bit how you proceeded updating you box. I compare your article to a testimonial.

    Have a lot of fun . . .

  2. Harald Müller-Ney05 December, 2009 18:39

    Seife, your are just great!

    You crazy enough to trying hard to produce issue to fix afterwards. Your report made me smile. Let me see if our tools are even better, I will go for a direct upgrade of an old 10.3 to 11.2 but by booting from disk.

    Best Harald