Question about upgrading linux kernel

I'm currently running kernel 2.6.24-27-generic but i need to install a driver that requires 2.6.27.7.11 (or greater). I have several programs already installed on my machine along with vmware server 2, which requires ubuntu 8.0.4.

What are the risks I run to my existing programs by upgrading the kernel?

How much is the kernel version associated with the linux instance version? i.e. if I upgrade the kernel to 2.6.27.7.11 am I now effectively no longer running ubuntu 8.0.4 and vmware is now running on an unsupported platform?
opikeAsked:
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DaxitCommented:
Hello

Yes and no, the matter is to be cleared well with the linux support comunity, from one kernel to another differences might be greatly influencing on the whole settlements.

Huge groups of software packets might be uncompatible with the new kernel and should be changed with others, upgraded too or eliminated if anything substitutable is available, other packages might be reconfigured, drivers and modules might be unsupported, changed, becoming buggy, or whatever, a lot of software might just work straight well the same way as before.....

Normally the very core of the kernel is the same, but changed parts might alter a lot the whole behaviour of the system.

If you read well the documentation about your actual kernel and the one related to the newer one you might be able to discover it, but take care of this, you "might" find out in advance what will happen, it is not really saidf that the real new behaviour will be really close to what is written on the documentation or foreseen in theory.

If you do not have much experience in upgrading to new kernels, you might find a lot of problems, a lot of documents to read, a cramped system afterall and a big headache.

I would try to install it all on a separate partition and test it aside the everyday working system, just to avoid sudden trouble and headaches.

To do this for example install a new hd if you can't get a clean partition to test it on your actual one.

Now that you created a clean space on your pc (use the same pc to pick up exactly the same hardware related settings and drivers etc..) clone your system there and make all exeperiments on this test partition.

If you will be able to make it work properly you can either decide to migrate on your newly upgradeded installation or to upgrade you original one to get back your extra space, otherwise in case of unsuccess you can get back to your working installation without loosing time and your working platform.

I would be very careful about "just trying" if not in this way, as just said make a clone and work on this, you can't fail a lot in this way.

You can clone your system using partition saving (savepart from Guibouret http://damien.guibouret.free.fr/  ) clonezilla or other cloning system, ghost is a commercial name for example. The process is easy and relativelly fast, this will save you a lot of troubles also is your system wreck down for any reason, you should always have a clone of your sysem at hand for any evenience, so if you do not have it already it is a very good idea to do it right now.

So my suggestion is to look upon the cloning process not only in order to perform your kernel upgrade testing, but apart all as a general security matter to start with.

This is a very igienic rule, no way to fail doing this, it is imperative.

To have better information about kernel upgrading, documentations on both kernels, tips and configuration settings, if necessary or prefered (it is preferable in fact to achieve best results) informations on how to properly perform and fine tune a compilation of the kernel from sources and so on you need to go digging in the linux world attending their forums, chats, manuals, HOWTO repositories and distribution's sites.

Some distributions include in the installer some tools that help in the kernel upgrading process, check if your ubuntu does this too...but work on a clone not to get headaches later on.

I hope this will help you.

Bye

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SuperdaveCommented:
The way I would do it, easier although slightly more risky, would be to compile a new kernel but don't overwrite the old one (just give it a different name) and set up Grub to boot either one.  If the new one doesn't work, go back to your old kernel.  In theory creating a new partition would be safer, so if you want to be absolutely safe go ahead and do that, but there isn't that much that can go wrong by booting off a different kernel.  It won't change any files on your system except for Grub's menu.lst and adding the new kernel image.  I suppose one possibility that would justify the separate partition would be if the new kernel got as far as mounting the file system readlwrite and then crashed with a file system messed up.
DaxitCommented:
Hello

Yes SuperDave is right.

Thank you to remind me this option.

My approach is very radical many times. In fact there is a little chanche to mess it up badly in this way. Normally I do not like to loose something well working, so I prefer to not take any risk at all, expecially if it is a production machine I do not want to get angry with myself, it happened a few times in two decades and hate the idea to catch nervous dropdowns.

As I constantly work with IT systems and time is always less than necessary, my strategy is to use some little more time even if it looks not necessary in order to spare huge amounts in some occasions that will eat at once dozens of little bits previously spared.

Sorry for the game of words, I mean that 30-60 minutes for a clone meanwhile I do other things, will save me from a lot of problems if something goes wrong, for any reason, even reason that do not have absolutely nothing to do with the operation itself.

For example once I was just too tired and formatted not only the drive I was testing on but also the drive with the clone images which were recent and not double backed up as the whole matter was low budget and client did not want to pay for it but also did not double backed up by themselves ( I was doing the opposite in this case having at hand several cloned versions of the system on another drive). I felt lost in this low budget school project having 200 students coming up in a few hours and wanting to ravage their files on the server .

I was lucky enough to be able to restore an old working image from an old redundant backup, retrieve the new user list from another backup, and fast enough restore almost all in a decent way.

It was nothing difficult to setup, but again, why to loose hours to repeat a work? I lost just some time to find back this old redundant backups and updating them a little bit.

It happens, expecially when things are not done in a perfectly organized way, in a low budget mode, with few resources and when attention goes low for tireness or other disturbing reasons.

That is my experience, never take a risk if you do not want to have problems, if there can not be a problem anyway then is possible to do anything at wish.

Bye
opikeAuthor Commented:
Thanks...this tells me what I needed to know. I will look into taking adavantage of a cloning system.
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