I have a Ubuntu-based server where I do host several Virtualbox images for test and demo purposes. This server was still running on Ubuntu 9.04 and EXT3 as file system.

Although I do not have too much experience with Linux I successfully upgraded the filesystem on both disks to EXT4 and the operating system to Ubuntu 9.10.

Just for my reference for the next time and for anyone else who wants to do that, here are the steps (and links to the more detailed description) to do this without access to a graphical environment, just from the command line:

Upgrading the file system from EXT3 to EXT4:

  • Make sure you have kernel version 2.6.28 or higher (“uname -a”) (IMPORTANT!)
  • Edit file “/etc/fstab” (“sudo nano /etc/fstab”)  and change “EXT3” to “EXT4” for all partitions you want to change. Remember the device name of the partions (e.g. “sda1” etc.)
  • Reboot the system (IMPORTANT!)
  • Enable EXT4 features for every partition with the following command:
    “sudo tune2fs -O extents,uninit_bg,dir_index “
    Replace “” with the device name(s) you noted before (e.g. “/dev/sda1”)
  • Now you normally would need to do a file system check. However as the boot partition is in use you cannot do that. So reboot the system again. As the file system is marked “dirty” now, the file system check of the boot partition occurs automatically. You can safely ignore all warning messages regarding file system issues and let the filesystem check complete.
  • The automatic filesystem check does only occur on the boot partition. Your other partitions have not been mounted automatically after the last reboot because of the “dirty” flag. So you need to run the filsystem check manually by issuing the following command (Replace “” with the device name(s) you noted before (e.g. “/dev/sdb1”):
    “sudo e2fsck -pf /”
  • Reinstall GRUB if you upgraded your boot filesystem (Replace “” with the device name where your “/boot” partition resides (e.g. “/dev/sda1”):
    “sudo grub-install “
  • Reboot your system a last time.
  • Although you now have the EXT4 filesystem not all features can be used as the files itself are not converted. I therefore copied all Virtualbox related data files from one disk to another, deleted the original files and copied the files back. So at least the files which are used most in my environment got rewritten.

Link to the more detailed description

Upgrading Ubuntu from 9.04 to 9.10:

  • Make sure you have installed all the latest upgrades to Ubuntu 9.04 by issuing the following commands:
    “sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude safe-upgrade && sudo aptitude full-upgrade”
  • Install update-manager-core if it is not already installed:
    “sudo apt-get install update-manager-core”
  • Now start the upgrade itself:
  • Follow the on-screen instructions.

Link to a more detailed description

The upgrade itself went very smooth and the server was up and running afterwards again. I then uninstalled several packages which I do not need on a server (e.g. the Open Office suite etc.).

However the most important software did no longer start: Virtualbox…

The reason for that was KVM (“Kernel Virtual Machine”) which was automatically installed during the upgrade and active as soon as the machine has been rebooted.

To solve that issue I started the Synaptic package manager and removed all packages with “kvm” in their name.

Afterwards Virtualbox was running fine again.

Upgrading my Virtualbox server to Ubuntu 9.10
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