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I have been using Fedora as my primary distribution since very long. One thing that "bothers" me is its relatively short life cycle. I install its latest release, restore my backup, customize the applications, take a sigh of relief but by then the new release is just around the corner.

Fedora has a comparatively short life cycle: version X is maintained until one month after version X+2 is released. With 6 months between releases, the maintenance period is a very short 13 months for each version. Wikipedia

Once I used pre-upgrade when moving from Fedora 9 to 10. It didn't work smoothly. The new upgraded Fedora was using the old kernel images of Fedora 9. Took me long to figure it out and I had to use live usb to fix it. Since then I decided not to use pre-upgrade or Upgrade an existing installation option. I had some hiccups with applications too.

Using fresh install seems safer. But now I have to backup all data, along with my scripts and rc files and restore it again. This takes time along with installing apps that are not installed by default and removing not-required apps.

Main problem is customization settings of each application. From Firefox only, I would have to export saved passwords, bookmarks, saved sessions, preferences of different extensions, etc. Some other applications do not provide option of save/export settings at all. So I have to configure each one manually.

All in all, upgrading to latest release takes time, even longer if my net connection goes down for some reason. Each time I upgrade, I cannot take it out my mind that within few months a new release will be knocking my door, and I will have to repeat the whole exercise again.

  1. What could be a painless and easy procedure to take backups of all data and to restore it? I would prefer a command line solution.
  2. How can I preserve settings of applications, if they do not provide an option to export settings?
  3. If you are Fedora user, what do you do to keep up with its frequent releases?
  4. How can I make this whole procedure faster and less painful? Its the amount of time and efforts that an upgrade takes altogether which made me post this question. How can I make my life easier?

Any help, suggestions and ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.

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Just to mention the obvious, if you don't want all the latest new features, switch to a distro that upgrades less often. CentOS, Ubuntu LTS, Debiaan stable, etc. –  derobert Feb 25 '13 at 16:34
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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. I use an external drive, where I backup some of my folders and dotfiles with rsync -avz once the first snapshot is taken, it only needs very little data to move onto the external drive for backups

  2. Well, pretty much all of that information is stored in a dotfile or in some dotdirectory. All you need to do, is backup those directories. That's what I do anyway, and it's been working for years.

  3. It all depends on what big of a change the next release is. for instance, when the file systems don't change, I don't see a reason to re-install anymore. It was all different back when FC6 was around. Upgrading was a pain and I usually made fresh installs back then. From Fedora 8 onwards, preupgrade was working fine, I didn't have had any issues with it. I did however a fresh install for Fedora 13, since I wanted all my hard drives to be formatted in ext4. Other than that, upgrading to latest version of Fedora usually works well.

  4. Usually, keep somewhat track, of what changes you do to the system. What files in /etc/ you changed, what programs you compiled yourself, or what libs you put into /usr/lib/ yourself, etc. This makes life much easier, as well as a backup, that is constantly kept up to date. Preupgrade works fine by now, but when you want to change The file system or so, there's no way around reinstalling. The upgrade guide of Fedora will advice you when you should indeed reinstall instead of doing an upgrade. The PreUpgrade manual says, it's possible to upgrade from F11 directly to F13, for example. I would advice against it. Since older Fedoras aren't upgraded, the PreUpgrade package is most likely outdated.

This won't help, but when you're a OpenBSD user, you need to make most changes manually and you can't upgrade to the latest release from any other than the previous one.

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I had the exact same problem with my Fedora installation, and the solution is quite simple : partitions. Since I have created a /home partition, I format / but all my preferences for every program are staying. Just separate your data from your system with partition, and on reinstall, make sure to format only /, and specify your home partition as mounted on /home. Have fun!

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RedHat has a tool called kickstart[1] to automate installs. Not sure if Fedora offers the same tool or not, but it might help getting the initial install underway.

I also second the separate /home partition. Backups are still necessary in case of a slip of the finger, but it makes life way easy.

  1. http://www.faqs.org/docs/Linux-HOWTO/KickStart-HOWTO.html
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Yes, Fedora has Kickstart. –  mattdm Dec 1 '10 at 3:55
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While once in a while Fedora updates give grief, the process usually runs smoothly (specially if you update over the 'net and wait a month or so for the toothing problems to get ironed out). Just upgraded my netbook from Fedora 16 to Fedora 17 the yum way (had separate / and /usr, even that hair-raising dance went smoothly), and then using FedUp to Fedora 18. Some unofficial texlive packages gave some problems, but nothing too serious. Using that one right now. Had backed up my complete account and all of /etc and a complete list of the installed packages to a big pendrive, just to be on the safe side.

Sure, some configuration changes; and the installation process just can't track down and fix configuration local to your account.

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