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Date:      Mon, 27 Apr 2020 22:31:46 +0100
From:      Matthew Seaman <matthew@FreeBSD.org>
To:        freebsd-questions@freebsd.org
Subject:   Re: Updating from 11.3-stable to 12.1-stable?
Message-ID:  <9945f3b9-0452-721b-e931-816bc7a044ae@FreeBSD.org>
In-Reply-To: <20200427200111.GA39823@rancor.immure.com>
References:  <20200427200111.GA39823@rancor.immure.com>

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On 27/04/2020 21:01, Bob Willcox wrote:
> What is the best way to update a system from 11.3-stable to
> 12.1-stable? This system is a backup file server that I could
> reinstall if necessary, but I'd really like to avoid having to do
> that.
If you're using ZFS and have sufficient spare space, it should be
possible to use boot environments to allow upgrading to 12.1 while still
keeping an easy backout path to 11.3.

Failing that -- you say that the server is a file server.  Do you happen
to have a separate set of data disks that you write the file server
content to, distinct from your system drives?  In that case you could
build a new 12.1 system on a spare drive and physically swap it into the
machine.  Or if you've got a mirrored system drive, you could split the
mirror and build an upgraded system on one of the mirrors.  Again, this
gives you a relatively easy backout path if it all goes pear shaped.

Failing either of those, I'd suggest creating a bootable USB stick to
which you copy your important data -- passwd file, home directories,
anything you've customized on the system and want to be able to
re-create -- or just copy all of your root, /usr, /home partitions onto
the memory stick if you have space.  In principle, even if an attempted
update renders your system unbootable, you should have enough on a
live-system image to be able to recover.

If you're careful, the file server content should be safe enough
throughout this whole exercise.  Although, obviously, make sure all this
is not the only copy of your content, and that it is all duplicated
elsewhere -- if this is the backup fileserver, presumably you also have
a primary fileserver with the live copies of everything?

As for how you do the actual upgrade -- just use whichever of the
recognised means of upgrading the system works best for you.
freebsd-upgrade(8) is a good choice.  Although, if you're going to
choose one of the routes that involves swapping HDDs in and out, then
installing a brand new system and recreating your local customizations
from scratch is quite a good approach. There's quantities of cruft that
tends to build up over the years that this method will naturally get rid =
of.

	Cheers,

	Matthew


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