Help! Upgrade from fbsd 5.4 to 8.x

Jeff Mitchell skeezix at
Sun Jan 31 04:10:21 UTC 2010

 	Hello my friends,

 	I've just noticed one of my beloved headless shell boxen is 
FreeBSD 5.4; its a workhorse I've been neglecting far too long and I'd 
really like to bring it up to 'current' (say fbsd 8.x). For awhile it was 
held back by very specific applications I had to support, but I'm in the 
clear now.

 	Given the age of the installation, I'm wondering what the 
recommended upgrade path would be.

 	ie: This machine has a lot going on .. wiki's (ie: apache et al), 
mysql databases, mailing lists, and a dozen hand rolled applications. 
(Hey, someone has to write custom emulators of ancient systems to keep 
BBSes alive, right?) Naturally, /etc is modified all to hell, and I'm 
terrified of any automated upgrades for fear random things would just not 
work later. Especially with the age... Things work great, but I worry 
about security naturally, and keeping up with patches or installing 
anything new is a nightmare due to dependancies.

 	o I should be able to identify most important changes and data; 
/etc, /home, the kernel build path so I've got the old kernel conf files I 
used for this machine (yay!), /usr/local was used instead of polluting 
/usr-proper, etc.

 	o I'd love if I coudl do an upgrade, and things would still work; 
I mean, from samba configuration etc and so on, eveyrthign is great. I 
realize this is unlikely though .. upgrading services likely means conf 
changes all over the random place, etc.

 	o Some of the executables on this box are without source but I 
still need them to run; short of moving them to a VM and doing some 
voodoo, what are the chances a binary built for fbsd 5.x works fine in 
8.x? (earlier fbsd's had the break between gcc versions, but I'm rather 
hoping thats not a problem here.)
 	gcc (GCC) 3.4.2 [FreeBSD] 20040728

 	The obvious options are..

 	1 - upgrade step by step; go from fbsd 5.4 to 6.4 (say) to 7.2 
(say) to 8.0

 	2 - one big-ass upgrade from 5.4 to 8 (*fear*)

 	3 - yank the drive, slap a giant new fat drive in there, do a full 
fbsd 8.0 install, and then migration from old drive as needed

 	Strikes me most people will recommend (3) -- nice big new drive, 
no risk of destroying a working machine (can always slap old drive back 
in), easy migration of service by service, etc and so on. Strikes me as a 
PITA, but then again .. the others are probably all PITAs as well given 
the age of the box. Something will break, so maybe its best to just start 
fresh with a nice new install and go from there.

 	*ugh* but that'll teach me to stay on top of it more :)

 	Aside -- whats the recommended way to stay on top of upgrades 
anyway? It used to be a tortuous process back 5 years ago, but hopefully 
things are much more streamlined now .. nightly 'make upgrade' ftw :)


If everyone would put barbecue sauce on their food, there would be no war.

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