While one of our MakeUseOf authors wrote a great guide on upgrading Ubuntu to the latest version, we haven’t offered one that helped users upgrade their Fedora installation to the latest and greatest. Considering some of the features that have been coming out in recent Fedora releases (such as GNOME 3 for Fedora 15, GRUB 2 for Fedora 16, and possibly Btrfs for Fedora 17), upgrading will give you plenty of benefits.
So, how exactly do we do this?
Before I begin, please note that within the Linux community, it’s generally advised to simply do a clean install rather than upgrade Fedora Linux. This is recommended because a clean install will give you a clean operating system, without any obsolete packages, configuration files, and other “junk” that may be generated from an upgrade. Additionally, some distributions handle upgrading to newer versions better than others do, so it is said as a more general rule.
However, there may be times when doing a clean install isn’t really needed because you’d like to keep everything that’s been installed and you’re happy with the “cleanliness” of your hard drive. I’ve found Fedora to be one of the best at upgrading to newer versions (despite even the Fedora community not explicitly recommending to use the upgrade path).
In my experience Ubuntu has a more complicated way to upgrade to releases more than a 6-month cycle away, and even direct upgrades tend to have some problems when complete. Fedora hasn’t ever had these problems, so I’d recommend it more than anything else.
There are two different ways that you can upgrade your Fedora Linux installation. In reality, there are more than two different methods, but the two that I will mention are the only sure-fire ways of having an easy, successful upgrade.
You can either upgrade using a utility called “preupgrade”, or upgrade using the DVD version of the desired Fedora release.
The preupgrade utility has a couple of advantages and “disadvantages” over the DVD. With preupgrade, you will only have to download the installer and the packages on your system that need updating. When downloading the DVD, you’re also downloading a lot of packages (such as different server packages) that you don’t even have and that just sit there on the DVD, untouched.
preupgrade also automatically changes all your repositories (even the custom ones) to start using the newer repositories, although I believe the DVD does this as well. As for any claimed downsides, it apparently doesn’t run the upgrade quite as well as the DVD does, but I haven’t had any problems with it yet so I only consider that to be a rumor.
To use the preupgrade utility, you’ll need to install it via the package manager or run sudo yum install preupgrade. Then to start it, you’ll need to open up a terminal if you haven’t already and run sudo preupgrade.
A window will appear welcoming you to the utility, and will then ask you which release you would like to upgrade to. You can also choose to include alpha/beta/”rawhide” versions by clicking on the appropriate checkbox, but do this at your own risk as they are not stable, final releases.
Clicking next one more time will already start the identification and download process. Once it completes, you’ll be asked to restart your computer, where it will boot into the downloaded installer and run through the upgrade process. After another restart, you should be booted into your updated system, with all programs, files, and settings intact.
Using the DVD
To use the DVD, you’ll need to download the DVD ISO and burn it to a DVD disk (or write it to a large enough USB stick). Once that finishes, put the DVD into your optical drive, boot from it, and go through the first steps of the installer. At one point it’ll detect what it is currently on your hard drive and identify any instances of Fedora already installed. It should find your current instance and ask if you want to upgrade it. Choose that option and continue with the rest of the installer until the upgrade completes. Then you can restart and you should be inside your updated system.
Other Experimental Choices
Other methods of upgrading are possible but won’t be described in this article. If you’re really interested in what they are, you can go here to find all upgrade options.
Fedora’s upgrade path is fairly seamless compared to other distributions and works exceptionally well. It offers flexibility and ease of use, which is basically all you could ask for from an upgrade. I especially like Fedora’s ability to upgrade directly to any release (such as from F13 to F15 without having to upgrade to F14 first). The closest Ubuntu comes to that is updating between LTS releases, but for any others you’ll need to upgrade from one release to the next, all the way until you are done.
What do you think about the options to upgrade Fedora Linux? How do you compare them to other distributions? Any other thoughts? Let us know in the comments!