upgrading to Debian 5.0

Simon Waters simonw at zynet.net
Thu Feb 26 04:25:17 CST 2009

On Thursday 26 February 2009 05:09:45 Jared wrote:
> So, any experience with this, good or bad?  :-)

Just done all but one of our Debian servers, with most reboots this morning 
before folks got in.

This morning I discovered the mdadm feature of lenny.

The kernel in Lenny does mdadm differently, such that you need 
a "rootdelay=10" statement on the kernel cmdline, otherwise it doesn't find 
your root disk (assuming you have root on a mirrored disk - i.e. md0). Hmm -- 
quite how this didn't get fixed I don't know. Easy to fix once you know what 
it is - stops at "Attached scsi disk" and eventually times out saying the 
root disk was not found. Booted the old kernel (which worked fine!), added 
the option to /boot/grub/menu.lst - and was away again.

SATA in an SC1425 needed to use UUID in /etc/fstab because we went from 2.4 to 
2.6, as the disk name changes from /dev/hda to /dev/sda, also needs to add 
options for the root parameter in /boot/grub/menu.lst, I set it for newer 
kernels only. I'm adding switch all fstab's to UUID as a low priority task, 
as it is more robust if less readable approach to finding your filesystems.

Couple of my boxes hung for a long time on starting ntp - for the moment I've 
removed it from the start-up. Problem is something to do with creating lock 
files - I assume because we have an inconsistent set of NTP packages or some 
such. I think ntpdate is obseleted, and hadn't been removed or some such. Not 
a high priority issue for us.

Not hit any Poweredge specific issues yet.

General experience was good, although the mdadm issue did surprise me. Seems a 
poor regression - I have hardware RAID most places but they gave their issues 
moving from Sarge to Etch.

Most time (outside our own complex software configurations) was boxes which 
still had 2.4 kernels. These were 2.4 for Sarge, and I never switched them to 
2.6 when Etch came along, but just accepted the default. They all ran happily 
with the Etch stock 2.6 kernel so they weren't hard just an extra reboot and 
some fiddling around on the first one understanding what was needed. Just 
install and boot Etch 2.6 kernel before trying to upgrade to Lenny is 

Also some of our boxes down have the metapackage for the latest relevant 
kernel, so that the Lenny upgrade doesn't seem to have given them an 
appropriately shiny kernel by default.

I'd suggest the magic step "aptitude install dpkg aptitude" be replaced 
with "aptitude install dpkg aptitude debian-archive-keyring" as depending on 
the boxes history it may not have "debian-archive-keyring", and you'll not 
have the appropriate package signing key for lenny.

Smile - some poor sap somewhere is updating an SC1425 which is an NTP server 
with a 2.4 kernel, and an mdadm mirrored root disk (Actually mdadm uses UUID 
is some revisions so they probably wouldn't hit all these issues, although 
one of my boxes has the old disk names in the mdadm.conf file?!).


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