Upgrade Linux Safely – Outside Of Graphical Desktop

One thing I have noticed after using various Linux distros over the years is the amount of breakage you see after an Upgrade or Dist-Upgrade.

People lose their Xorg configuration settings, their graphics card drivers don’t work, and they lose 3D acceleration which means no Compiz, no Games, no eye-candy and usually eye-ache as you search Google over and over again trying to find a fix.

Xorg has changed a lot, and so have the graphics card drivers over the last year, which hasn’t helped, but the main problems are caused by upgrading Xorg and your graphics card drivers while logged in to a graphical desktop. If you are an (ex)Ubuntu user you will see how Synaptic is always recommended to upgrade, well, with the way Xorg has been behaving, it is not a good idea.

[b]To Safely Upgrade:[/b]

1. Hit Ctrl+Alt+F1 to get to the Console (you may have to hit enter a couple of times to see the login prompt)
2. Login with your username and password.
3. Stop the other graphical desktop (Gnome or Xfce) that you have just switched out of with:

sudo killall gdm

4. Update your system

sudo apt-get update

5. Upgrade your system

sudo apt-get upgrade

See a whole heap of Xorg related updates there?. Install them all.

You are now up to date.

To get back to your desktop:


[b]*IMPORTANT NOTE*[/b] This method doesn’t guarantee that you will not get a borked system. Nor does upgrading with Synaptic mean you will. It’s just that avoiding trouble “just in case” is better than taking risks and getting a headache trying to solve this stuff.

I have just performed an upgrade with DL 3.5 Xfce edition, and started Compiz to prove it works. In the past I have upgraded in the graphical environment and lost 3D acceleration, Compiz and got the Google headache. Hence this post to save you some Aspirins  😉