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This document provides notes on upgrading to supported releases of Ubuntu from previous releases.

Sequential upgrade from an older version of Ubuntu (recommended)

Ubuntu can be upgraded between installed versions without a reinstall. This is done one of two ways: by downloading newer versions of your installed software from the Internet using the Update Manager application, or by using the alternate install CDs of the upgrade version, which contain newer packages of core software.

The advantages of this method are that it minimises the risk of package incompatibilities and breakages, as all steps in the upgrade procedure are supported. It is also quicker than a reinstall if doing only one or two upgrades. The disadvantages are that more than one or two upgrades is time consuming and require either several different install CDs or a large amount of data to be downloaded.

Upgrades using this method are documented at UpgradeNotes.

Clean Install Upgrade (not recommended)

If your /home directory is contained on a separate hard-disk partition you should be able to upgrade by performing a clean install of the current release of Ubuntu and 'adopting' the old /home directory.

Back-up any important data before following this procedure as data loss is possible, and very well may be likely.

  1. Obtain an installation CD for the release of Ubuntu you wish to install, and boot from it.
  2. Start the installation process. When you reach the Prepare disk space stage of installation, choose the Manual option and press Forward.

  3. Identify your current '/' (root) partition. Select '/' as the mount point and ensure that Format is ticked. You will lose all data on this partition and the new version of Ubuntu will be installed there instead.

  4. Identify your swap partition and set its mount point as 'swap'.
  5. Identify your /home partition. Set its mount point as '/home' and make sure that Format is not ticked.

  6. Continue installation as normal until you reach the Who are you? stage, enter a username and password which exactly match your current username and password.

  7. Complete the installation as normal.

Once the installation has completed, you should be able to log in to Ubuntu and your /home partition with all of your documents and settings should be intact.


  • Some panel applets may be unable to start correctly after the upgrade (i.e. the Tomboy applet). It is best to remove these applets if prompted, and then add them again by right-clicking the panel and selecting Add to Panel...

  • You may be unable to log in in some circumstances, and may receive a message about being automatically logged out. This seems to be due to GNOME being unable to read an old secret/encrypted file, and also being unable to create a new one. If this happens, use the following instructions as a guide. You may have to perform additional actions besides those listed below:
    • Press Ctrl + Alt + F2 (or F3, or F4 etc.) to drop to a Terminal.

    • Log-in with your administration account (the username and password specified during installation).
    • Type the following commands, pressing Return after each line and replacing 'username' with your username:

    • rm .gnome2_private
      sudo mv $HOME /home/old_account
      sudo mkdir /home/username
    • Press Ctrl + Alt + F6 (or F3, or F4 etc.) to get back to a graphical login screen, and then log in.

    • Hopefully, you should have been able to log in successfully. Now, go to /home/old_account and copy your data back in to your new Home directory.
    • You may have to change the permissions of the files after copying them. You can use the chmod command to do this, with the '-R' switch to apply permissions recursively (that is, to all files in a directory).

See also

Installation/UpgradeFromOldVersion (last edited 2008-12-15 04:43:42 by hypatia)