Better Remote Upgrade Capabilities - Ideas?

Kevin Fries kfries at
Fri Sep 14 16:43:32 UTC 2007

For a long time, I used to use Fedora exclusively.  The cleaner more
user friendly Ubuntu desktop has been much better for me as a consultant
in every way sans one.  Remote update between versions.

Here is how I would do this in Fedora:

First I would go to a server, and dump the contents of the current CD
into a directory.  I would then make that CD available via NFS.  Since
nothing on that CD was proprietary, I could open that read-only to the
world... step one, quite easy.

Second, I would create a kickstart file that would essentially give the
install just enough intelligence to start up, configure the network, and
basically nothing else... step two, tricky, but once done, easily cloned

Third, I would ssh into the box, and download the ISOLINUX folder from
the CD into the target's /boot directory... step three, trivial

Fourth, I would edit the grub menu.lst file to have a menu item that
would boot from the /boot/isolinux folder... step four trivial

Then I would wait until it was time to do the actual upgrade.  Once that
time arrived:

Step Six, I would edit the grub menu.lst to make the upgrade option the
default boot option.

Step seven, I would start VNC in listen mode

Step eight, I would reboot the target machine

Step nine, I would wait for the target machine's install process to
start appearing on my desktop, and would then proceed with the install.

I could have automated the entire process, but never quite felt
comfortable enough with kickstart to give it full control.

The version upgrade process from one version of Ubuntu to another has
been troublesome for the most part.  I am beginning to trust it less and
less.  If I wanted to produce a similar methodology for version
upgrades, where would someone suggest I start?  The parts I like most of
the above process are the "Start the install process, and remote the
screen to a VNC client listening elsewhere to actually perform the

Kevin Fries

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