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Upgrading to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Server

© October 2012 Anthony Lawrence

I host this webserver on a Linode server. When I first set it up, the latest available Ubuntu choice was 10.04 LTS, so that's what I picked and it has been running great ever since. I've had a very few outages (one from a construction crew cutting a major data pipe, one from a severe power outage at the hosting center and one from hardware failure) but they have been brief and the Linode team was very good about keeping me informed of progress.

Ubuntu 10.0.4 has also been great with its updates. I run "sudo apt-get update" and "sudo apt-get upgrade --show-upgraded" regularly and have never had a single problem. To say I've been happy is an understatement.

End of Life

I noticed something in a Google post about 10.04 reaching end of life in April of next year. Actually, that didn't apply to the server version (see Ubuntu Releases), so I actually have until April of 2015, but that did start me thinking. As they say, busy people take care of important things early and that definitely applies to me.

Linode has excellent documentation for this sort of thing. Actually, they have excellent documentation for everything you might want to do on your Linode, but the How to Upgrade to Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise) was my first stop as I contemplated this upgrade. I noted their warning about hastiness:

Linode strongly encourages users of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS to wait for the Ubuntu first point release before upgrading. The first point release is expected in July 2012. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS will continue to be supported until April 2015, so there is not an immediate need to upgrade.

Yeah? Well, we're at 12 point oh four. Maybe I should wait.. naaw, let's do it!

Upgrade the Kernel

Oops. I was under the quite mistaken impression that I was doing that when I ran updates. Nope. I was still running 2.6. Linode had already made kernel updates up to 3.5 and all I had to do was select that and reboot, but I hadn't done that. Lesson learned: watch this stuff just a little bit more closely!

I had already done the other updates/upgrades, so I switched to their latest 3.5 kernel and rebooted. That came up fine, as I expected it would. Following the instructions in their document, I prepared for (which included stopping my mailserver and webserver) and ran the "sudo do-release-upgrade -d", which warned me that it could take many hours and that I could hose things horribly if I answered questions incorrectly.

Upgrade to 12.04

Actually it didn't take all that long and the questions seemed to be about keeping or overwriting configuration files. Of course I chose to keep my files and I will insist that I absolutely made no mistakes there.. and yet it seems that I may have.


Silly me. After reboot I checked that my mailserver still ran but I didn't think to look at Apache. Why? I don't know..

About an hour later I went to look something up on my site and found that it was not running. What the heck? I tried starting it. Nope, so I checked the logs. There I found line after line of this:

[Sun Oct 02 11:10:13 2011] [notice] SIGUSR1 received.  Doing graceful restart
apache2: apr_sockaddr_info_get() failed for pcunix
apache2: Could not reliably determine the server's fully qualified
domain name, using for ServerName
[Sun Oct 02 11:10:13 2011] [notice] Apache/2.2.14 (Ubuntu)
mod_perl/2.0.4 Perl/v5.10.1 configured -- resuming normal operations
[Sun Oct 02 11:19:49 2011] [notice] SIGUSR1 received.  Doing graceful restart

At the suggestion of Linode support, I checked my /etc/apache2/envvars and noticed that it was missing some important settings: APACHE_LOG_DIR, APACHE_LOCK_DIR and APACHE_RUN_DIR. Sheesh! I added them:

# cat /etc/apache2/envvars
export APACHE_RUN_USER=www-data
export APACHE_RUN_GROUP=www-data
export APACHE_RUN_DIR=/var/run/apache2
export APACHE_LOCK_DIR=/var/lock/apache2
export APACHE_PID_FILE=/var/run/apache2.pid
export APACHE_LOG_DIR=/var/log/apache2

And was then able to start Apache. The question is, did I fat finger an answer during the upgrade or is this an upgrade flaw? If the latter, I would expect more people to have this issue as they upgrade over the next year or so. Whatever: if you ran into this and were helped by my mentioning it, that's why I do this stuff, isn't it?

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-> Although I could have waited until 2015, I decided to jump ahead early


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Thu Oct 25 08:40:23 2012: 11400   anonymous


Hi, thanks for the update. One question: why the update command is "do-release-update -d"? Isn't the "-d" supposed to install a development version?

Thu Oct 25 09:11:13 2012: 11401   TonyLawrence


Well, the man page says "Check if upgrading to the latest devel release is possible". It wouldn't make any difference if there is nothing newer, but yeah, I guess you could leave that off.


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