Should I upgrade Linux or reinstall?

Q A couple of months ago I bought the Complete Linux Handbook 2 with the Mandrake 9.2 distro on the DVD, and decided to install it. Since then I have spent a very long time teaching myself Linux; most of the time has been getting all of my peripherals to work. Needless to say my Winmodem took by far the longest. Now I'm at the state of actually doing stuff, instead of configuring stuff. The OS is absolutely fab, and recently I changed my default boot option from WinXP Pro to Mandrake (yay!). Now I notice that 10.1 will be coming soon. Will upgrading simply be a case of putting the disc in, clicking a few icons and supping a cup of tea, or will the arduous task of setting up all those peripherals, software, etc, have to be repeated? Great mag by the way.

A The short answer to your question is yes - if you upgrade, you will spend more time reconfiguring stuff. But perhaps not everything. Mandrake handles upgrades by simply upgrading the packages you have on your system. If you have KDE3.1 installed, and the new version contains packages for KDE3.2, it will simply update the rpms. Theoretically, any configuration files you have will remain the same. Unfortunately, other changes in the OS may cause the upgrade not to be so smooth. As an example, the 10.1 release uses X.org as opposed to Xfree86 for the x server - so it's not just a version upgrade. Some of the base Mandrake packages also change the locations of some files, and may over-write configurations. On the plus side, the newer OS will probably recognise a lot more of your hardware and configure it straight off - but only if you do a new install. Ultimately, though, you will need to upgrade if you want to keep getting packages for your system that you can actually use. The best idea is to create some space or use an extra drive and install the new Mandrake alongside the old one, then work out what stuff you need to re-implement.

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