Chapter 3. Updating the System and Package Management


3.1. Updating SUSE Linux
3.2. Software Changes from Version to Version
3.3. RPM—the Package Manager


SUSE Linux provides the option of updating an existing system without completely reinstalling it. There are two types of updates: updating individual software packages and updating the entire system. Packages can also be installed by hand using the package manager RPM.

3.1. Updating SUSE Linux

Software tends to “grow” from version to version. Therefore, take a look at the available partition space with df before updating. If you suspect you are running short of disk space, secure your data before updating and repartition your system. There is no general rule of thumb regarding how much space each partition should have. Space requirements depend on your particular partitioning profile, the software selected, and the version numbers of SUSE Linux.

3.1.1. Preparations

Before updating, copy the old configuration files to a separate medium, such as streamer, removable hard disk, USB stick, or ZIP drive, to secure the data. This primarily applies to files stored in /etc as well as some of the directories and files in /var and /opt. You may also want to write the user data in /home (the HOME directories) to a backup medium. Back up this data as root. Only root has read permission for all local files.

Before starting your update, make note of the root partition. The command df / lists the device name of the root partition. In Example 3.1, “List with df -h, the root partition to write down is /dev/hda3 (mounted as /).

Example 3.1. List with df -h

Filesystem     Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda3       74G   22G   53G  29% /
tmpfs          506M     0  506M   0% /dev/shm
/dev/hda5      116G  5.8G  111G   5% /home
/dev/hda1       39G  1.6G   37G   4% /windows/C
/dev/hda2      4.6G  2.6G  2.1G  57% /windows/D

3.1.2. Possible Problems

If you update a default system from the previous version to this version, YaST works out necessary changes and performs them. Depending on your customizations, some steps or the entire update procedure may fail and you must resort to copying back your backup data. Here, we point out more issues to check before starting the system update. Checking passwd and group in /etc

Before updating the system, make sure that /etc/passwd and /etc/group do not contain any syntax errors. For this purpose, start the verification utilities pwck and grpck as root and eliminate any reported errors. PostgreSQL

Before updating PostgreSQL (postgres), dump the databases. See the manual page of pg_dump. This is only necessary if you actually used PostgreSQL prior to your update.

3.1.3. Updating with YaST

Following the preparation procedure outlined in Section 3.1.1, “Preparations”, you can now update your system:

  1. Boot the system as for the installation, described in Section 1.1, “System Start-Up for Installation” (↑Start-Up). In YaST, choose a language and select Update in the Installation Mode dialog. Do not select New Installation.

  2. YaST determines whether there are multiple root partitions. If there is only one, continue with the next step. If there are several, select the right partition and confirm with Next (/dev/hda3 was selected in the example in Section 3.1.1, “Preparations”). YaST reads the old fstab on this partition to analyze and mount the file systems listed there.

  3. In the Installation Settings dialog, adjust the settings according to your requirements. Normally, you can leave the default settings untouched, but if you intend to enhance your system, check the packages offered in the Software Selection submenus or add support for additional languages.

    You also have the possibility to make backups of various system components. Selecting backups slows down the update process. Use this option if you do not have a recent system backup.

  4. In the following dialog, choose to update only the software that is already installed or to add new software components to the system (upgrade mode). It is advisable to accept the suggested composition, for example, Update Based on Selection "Standard System with KDE" or "Standard System with GNOME". Adjustments can be made later with YaST.

3.1.4. Updating Individual Packages

Regardless of your overall updated environment, you can always update individual packages. From this point on, however, it is your responsibility to ensure that your system remains consistent. Update advice can be found at

Select components from the YaST package selection list according to your needs. If you select a package essential for the overall operation of the system, YaST issues a warning. Such packages should be updated only in the update mode. For example, many packages contain shared libraries. If you update these programs and applications in the running system, things might malfunction.