Fine line between overconfidence and stupidity
Whatsup.org.il was served by Ubuntu 6.06 for a very long time, it was a LTS release, but it’s 5 year support expired long time ago, and Ubuntu had several LTS releases since.
When upgrading servers, it’s best to have physical access to the machine in case something goes wrong (and many things can, and will) and the machine won’t boot. However we had hard time getting to Bezeq Internationals’ hosting farm.
In addition, when a server is behind so many releases, sometimes it’s best to backup everything and reinstall from scratch. But that would mandate physical access as well.
After dragging our feet for a long time, I had enough. In what to could be described as overconfidence or stupidity, I’ve decided to do in place release upgrades over an ssh connection from 6.06 to the next LTS up to the latest, 12.04.
It’s taken several weeks, with long pauses between each release upgrade.
Unfortunately it wasn’t a smooth ride. do-release-upgrade in 6.06 was broken, and in addition that release was moved from the normal servers to old-releases, so do-release-update couldn’t find the needed data.
Those required manual intervention: adding sleep to the script and while it’s waiting, do some manual editing to fix the problems and allow it to continue (much like the process described at question #62184, regardless of different versions).
During one release upgrade, I’ve managed during the main PG cluster update to drop the main PostgreSQL cluster (which used as the db for some other sites hosted on that server, like debian.org.il), but that was restored from the backups (yeah, we have those too, thanks Yehuda).
After the upgrade to the 12.04, lighttpd stop working, an easy fix was found in bug #1067315 (why wasn’t it fixed? Looks like an easy picking).
The upgrade from PHP4 to PHP5 had it’s own casualties in the crappy old PostNuke (like the Wiki), and some code fixes had to be applied manually.
After several virtual heart attacks the server is on 12.04 release, and things are in working order. Would I do it again? Not sure, however necessity is the mother of invention ;-)