Major version upgrades

Major version upgrades seem to be a very sticky point in EL downstream distributions.

CentOS don’t support/provide tools for them.

Rocky Linux seems to be taking the same approach.

RHEL seems to provide a tool called leapp which is supposed to be able to do RHEL7 → RHEL8 upgrades.

I wonder what AlmaLinux’s stance on major version upgrades is.

IMHO being able to support major version upgrades might be the particular differentiator that sets one particular downstream distro from the rest.

So what is AlmaLinux’s current (and/but perhaps strong textmore importantly) future position on major version upgrades?

Thanks @brianjmurrell. We are working on a tool to enable major version upgrades. It is still in the architecture planning phase now, but expect to see some code as soon as it starts getting written. I don’t have any specific timeline for it, aside from a generic “Q3”, but I will update as soon as we have a more concrete dates/code commits.

I will take this opportunity to ask you, what are your use cases and any particular applications that matter to you? It would be great to get feedback on those things so that we can prioritize our focus and eventually testing.

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@jack That is fantastic news. I am glad to see somebody filling this (huge, IMHO) functionality gap. It’s frankly impractical to use a Linux distribution which you have to re-install and re-build/reconfigure/etc. from scratch every few years. This feature really will be what makes me choose a distro.

As for my use cases, being a small shop, I just have the single machine that does general server duties. Among the tasks it performs are FreeIPA, Apache, BIND, Asterisk, Jabberd, Cyrus IMAP, Postfix, NFS + autofs.

Here’s the full list of currently installed RPMs for your perusal.

Is there a public project somewhere that is tracking the progress of this feature that I can follow to see how things progress?

Not yet, but we will post it on github once we start writing code for other to contribute and help test. Something like this is a pretty huge undertaking and I’m sure we are gonna want to make sure we catch as many corner cases as we can.

There is a caveat that that tool will not work in a list of cases.

Overall, system has services. A quite different distro has either different versions or alternatives to services. Custom configuration, however, is specific to versions. Such thing is not trivial to port to different version, not to mention the entirely different service.
Whoever does the work (human or script) has to know the old and new versions of services (i.e. syntax) and understand the purpose of the customizations.

One has to also play the What If? game. What if the machine burns to dust? What if an upgrade tool fails miserably?

A yum update cannot solve those. In other words, you do need backups no matter what.
The only question is, are your backups in format where “install and restore” is more feasible than upgrade?