The Upgrade Process: Restarting vs Rebooting.

    Date09 Apr 2003
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Upgrading your software is a constant task. But when does it require a reboot, and when can you get by without? . . . Upgrading your software is a constant task. But when does it require a reboot, and when can you get by without?

    Every operating system in the world requires software updates from time to time. If you're used to the world of Windows, you have probably become accustomed to a simple fact of windows life: you need to reboot your machine after any system change, such as upgrading software, installing patches, installing new software, moving your mouse, and so on. In the Linux world, this is not the case. You can keep your machine running for months or years without rebooting as long as you properly handle software upgrades.

    There are four main types of software upgrades that you could require. I'll point out the actions you should take after performing an upgrade to be sure that your machine is running smoothly and you're not accidentally running old versions.

    User-level software

    User level software are your standard programs in places like /bin and /usr/bin that are executed from the command line interactively, from system scripts, cron jobs, you name it. Things like awk, emacs, grep, mutt, passwd, perl, ping, vi, and so on. These programs are run for short periods of time, rather than hanging around forever like a webserver.

    These programs, since they are not running continually, do not require any reboot of the machine after an upgrade. The next time they're called, the new version will automatically be run. On the oft chance you have extremely long lived processes (say you've had mutt running on a screen session since the beginning of time) then you should stop and restart them, but this is rare.

    Daemon software

    Daemon software is anything that runs continually unattended, such as a webserver, mail server, database server, network time server, log analyser, etc. Often you can identify these by looking at their parent process ID in ps output - it will usually be '1', the init process. For example:


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