Updated: January 9, 2012
First, there's gonna be a 6.2 upgrade article, too, so relax. Now, normally, I never upgrade Linux versions from within a running operating system using the package manager. My experience shows that this procedure is usually rift with bugs and problems, ending in a system that is not suitable for production use. Which makes my decision to attempt just that with CentOS all the more intriguing.
But CentOS is a pillar of stability, a recent addition to my desktop arsenal. Long awaited and long supported, it is simple, light and fast. Moreover, there are no problems and issues that usually plague most of the competition. Hence, the silver medal in the 2011 best distro competition. Now, the only thing I have never checked is how well it copes with an upgrade. Now that CentOS 6.1 is out, this is the perfect opportunity to check that. In a way, this is a mini-review if you will, but mostly the tale of my upgrade.
How to upgrade
If you notice the dates, I performed this upgrade in mid-December, but you're only seeing the article now as I have a long pipe of written material waiting to be published. Nevertheless, it all happened then, just days after the official release. Anyhow, let's proceed.
I had several updates for the existing version before the big upgrade was offered. There's no grand ceremony, so the only thing that stands out and marks this cycle of patches as a version upgrade is the quantity of packages.
It went fairly well, with downloads streaming from the local mirror at 1MB/sec, and the whole procedure completed in about 10 minutes.
Before rebooting, I did a quick checklist of things that may go wrong. Data was safely backed up, and there's the matter of Nvidia drivers. Am I going to have the proprietary driver after the reboot into the new kernel? We will soon find out.
And the desktop did not come up. I checked the logs and realized that X could not be spawned as the graphics driver was not matching the kernel. To fix this, I moved the xorg.conf file created by Nvidia and rebooted. The desktop came up in its plain VESA form. Nouveau remains blacklisted in the new kernel, too, which is quite neat, as the system figured out I did not want this driver. Moreover, since I chainloaded the CentOS bootloader, there was no need to update the multi-boot configuration.
I opened a console and searched for the Nvidia driver using yum:
The latest available version seemed to be 290.10 in the extra ATRPMS repo, but there are several other versions available. And there's also the KMDL kernel module, which should prevent the necessity to download the driver each time there's a kernel update.
Then, one more reboot, and I was up and running:
After the upgrade
The system runs smoothly. It is cool and quiet and eats very little resources. The memory usage on idle is at around 320MB, which is quite decent, but more importantly, equal to what we had before the upgrade.
And there were some updates available:
And from that point on, the system was quiet and cooperated fully. No errors, which is as it should be. So the only thing that has gone wrong is Nvidia driver, which is mostly my own configuration fault, promptly resolved. Overall, things seem to be going quite well.
If you care for more flattery, then try these:
CentOS 6.0 to 6.1 upgrade was a fairly painless but not perfect procedure. The one thing standing out is the configuration of the Nvidia graphics driver from the external repos, quickly and easily resolved. However, even with the driver error, this is by far superior to all other in-vivo upgrade attempts I have ever tried on a variety of distros, which have almost exclusively ended in a fiasco; this or that irreparable error that necessitates a full reinstall.
CentOS 6.1 runs well and without errors. Now, this is entirely my own experience, so you may disagree. For me, the upgrade is a success. The operating system has lived up to its expectations and continues to be an extremely solid and useful alternative to all the hypes out there. Relevant and modern, and all it takes is about 10 minutes and some bandwidth. Really lovely. No point repeating all the good things I've shown you in CentOS 6.0, so this might be a boring little review, just copy & paste the great impression and have fun.
P.S. Like I said, we will have another upgrade to 6.2 soon! Stay tuned!