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How To: Upgrade Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3 to v5.4

Red Hat Enterprise Linux v5.4 has been released and available via RHN for immediate update. The new version includes the kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) virtualization, next generation of developer features and tools including GCC 4.4, a new malloc(). Also included clustered, high-availability filesystem to support Microsoft Windows storage needs on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

From the press release:

Because this is an update in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 family, Xen and KVM can both be managed via the open standard libvirt. This provides customers with their choice of virtualization technology with a common management interface. In addition, support of Xen has not ceased – it will continue to be supported through the full lifecycle of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. The scalability of the Red Hat virtualization solution has been incremented to support 192 CPUs and 1GB hugepages.

With the close cooperation of our hardware partners and the industry standard bodies, KVM takes full advantage of the latest in chip hardware advances. Performance, scalability, security and stability are enhanced by the tight linkage to Intel VT and AMD-V hardware virtualization. By following the PCI-SIG’s SR-IOV specification and delivered on AMD and Intel chipsets, virtual device enables the efficient and secure sharing of physical devices in both KVM and Xen virtualization.

Fig.01 Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Desktop

Fig.01 Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Desktop

How Do I Upgrade My Server To RHEL 5.4?

Make a backup - it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to make a backup of your system before you do this. Most of the actions listed in this post are written with the assumption that they will be executed by the root user running the bash or any other modern shell. Type the following commands
# uname -a
# yum update

Reboot the server:
# reboot
Verify everything is working:
# uname -a
# netstat -tulpn
# tail -f /var/log/messages
# tail -f /path/to/log/file

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{ 24 comments… add one }

  • Mountbatten BLAMMO September 3, 2009, 2:43 am

    Such an insightful tip, although I think the upgrade broke my machine!

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    $ tail -f /path/to/log/file
    tail: cannot open `/path/to/log/file’ for reading: No such file or directory
    tail: no files remaining
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

  • nixCraft September 3, 2009, 3:14 am

    You need to replace /path/to/log/file with your actual path name (such as /var/log/boot.log). This is nothing but an example.

  • Rik September 3, 2009, 6:42 am

    I think it was a joke! :)

  • Saad Usmani September 3, 2009, 9:33 am

    This is very Good option to update the production system specially kernel packages as you don’t required reboot. Please update be your views about it thanks.


  • Yonit September 6, 2009, 11:06 am

    Does that mean the Redhat is moving from Xen to KVM?
    Xen will not be supported in RHEL 6 ?

  • Jonathan Nguyen September 6, 2009, 1:57 pm

    Thanks, I try to upgrade but not success. I want to install my site in this OS. How to do it? there are my site: My site

  • nixCraft September 10, 2009, 2:17 am


    It’s unknown if Red Hat will continue to support Xen with RHEL6. Xen is the past and KVM is the future as it is part of Linux kernel itself. However, they will NOT drop Xen immediately as tons of XEN servers are powered by RHEL 5.x. Also, Red hat support RHEL 5.x for 7 years.


  • Jack September 11, 2009, 4:13 pm

    Just wondering (see links below) – the info below infers one does the update then the upgrade with yum (again, see links below).
    1) do the update with yum
    2) Then ==> yum upgrade
    While the URL above shows centos, centos is Red Hat without it’s logos.

    So (just curious here) – is it perform an update and then upgrade?


    • nixCraft September 11, 2009, 4:17 pm


      The last link is for migration from RHEL to CentOS server.

  • Jack September 11, 2009, 4:29 pm

    Hi Vivek Gite,

    I just checked

    That URL shows a migration of CentOS from version 5.1 to 5.2 — and while that is not “true Red Hat”, CentOS is Red Hat minus the logos (Red Hat allows the CentOS community to have their distro provided they remove all Red Hat(tm) logos etc). Sorry if I’m being ‘master of the obvious’ here…

    My real question here is – should one (whether they upgrade a Red Hat distro or CentOS distro use
    yum update
    and then
    yum upgrade?

    It seems that is what is at that URL – that one does the update then the upgrade.

    Just curious


    • nixCraft September 12, 2009, 9:14 am

      The upgrade option is the same as the update command with the –obsoletes flag set. Use update option.

  • barun September 13, 2009, 10:29 am

    That will be help us to know rhel5.4

  • vovaNux September 18, 2009, 9:41 am

    Is that possible to perform such an upgrade on a working web server? I mean I don’t have physical access to the server. Are there any things that might go wrong?

  • mod September 21, 2009, 3:51 am

    Did someone already moved from XEN to KVM? I did not find a migration path from XEN (RHEL 5.3) to KVM (5.4) for paravirtualized VMs.

  • Santhosh September 23, 2009, 10:23 am

    RHEL have yum ? I have used RHEL long back, at the time, it was up2date and had problem with its licencing, then moved to centos.

    • nixCraft September 23, 2009, 2:45 pm

      Yes, RHEL 5.x has yum and no up2date. RHEL <= v4.x got up2date.

  • Adam September 23, 2009, 3:00 pm

    RHEL 6 will only support KVM. Migrating from XEN to KVM is as simple as booting in the regular kernel and booting your images from KVM. I run/test Xen,XenServer,KVM and I am going back to run physical servers + load balancers. I jumped on the virtualization bandwagon and its time for back to basics. For small projects its ok but not for what we do.


  • Martin October 2, 2009, 10:08 am

    “For small projects its ok but not for what we do. “… Tell that to the mainframe users that has been running the worlds most high performance mission critical loads on virtual machines for a lot of years.

    The hardware and software outside the mainframe world is only starting to catch up. The mainframes has about 30 years head start on this kind of tasks.

  • Adam October 2, 2009, 12:59 pm

    Lets not compare mainframes vs x86 hardware. I was talking about heavy video streaming btw. You cant have any latency in network packets and IO because of virtualization. Moving everything to the “cloud” is not the solution for everything.


  • Martin October 2, 2009, 10:36 pm

    I agree that latency sensitive work loads will probably run on bare metal for the time being. Work is being done in this area.

    I also agree that the application load should be tested and only been put in the clouds if it makes sense.


  • Hari October 5, 2009, 2:20 pm

    can someone point me to tutorials for creating repodata for RHEL.
    I have in my environment:
    32 and 64 bit.
    RHEL 3
    RHEL 4
    RHEL 5

  • unixfoo December 3, 2009, 4:05 am

    I use the below method for my OS upgrades on RHEL4, RHEL5 and CentOS5. It never breaks..

    yum clean all
    yum update glibc\*
    yum update yum\* rpm\* python\*
    yum clean all
    yum update

  • Palani.K May 24, 2010, 5:42 am

    Hi ,
    I need to upgrade the RHEL 5U1 to 5U4 all are production servers . please guide me how to proceed on this .

  • thirisangu December 17, 2010, 7:17 pm

    i am using dual boot machine for windows 7 and red hat 5. how can i mount my ntfs files via red hat linux

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