Ubuntu: update, don’t reinstall!

I’ve seen a lot of people talk about simply reinstalling Ubuntu with the latest CD in order to update it to the latest version. I think that’s a bad habit from other OS’s. For as long as I’ve used Debian and its derivatives, the ability to update the system has been one of its strong points.

Here are some reasons to run the updates instead of upgrading via a fresh install:

  • You don’t lose your old configuration information, and by choosing to see the diff’s in configuration files, you can even choose which config files to update, and how.

  • No need to shut down a running system.

  • By keeping an eye on obsolete packages, you really don’t build up any cruft at all, so that’s not a reason to do a fresh install.

  • With a decent internet connection, it’s probably just as fast, if not faster, when you consider it takes a bit of time to get everything installed just the way you want it.

Indeed, yesterday, I upgraded a server I run in Texas from Ubuntu’s edgy eft to hardy heron, remotely, with one reboot at the end to make it pick up the new kernel, and the whole thing came off without a hitch!