Citrix XenServer 5.5 vs. Debian 5.0 upgrade to 6.0

Few weeks ago I’ve upgraded two of our Debian based application servers from 5.0 to 6.0. Everything went fine, as the upgraded packages worked well with the 4.2 JBoss instances. For the new kernel we needed a reboot, but as the network had to be rebuilt, I postponed this reboot until the network changes. With the network, everything went fine again, we successfully migrated our mail servers behind a firewall. Also the Xen server (5.5.0, upgrade to 5.6 still has to wait for a week or so) revolted well with some storage disks added. But the application servers remained silent…

After checking the console, I realised that they don’t have an active console. And when I tried to manually start them, XenServer refused with a message regarding pygrub.

To understand the problem, I had to understand how XenServer boots Debian. It reads the grub.conf on the first partition’s root or /boot directory, and starts the first option, without asking (correct me, if I’m mistaken somewhere). However, this pygrub thing can not parse the new, grub2 config. This is kinda frustrating.

For the first step, I quickly installed a new Debian 5.0 system from my template. Then I attached the disks of the faulty virtual machine, and mounted all its partitions. This way I could reach my faulty 6.0 system with a chroot shell, from which I could install the grub-legacy package instead of grub, install the necessary kernel and XenServer tools (which were missing from both machines somehow), then halt the rescue system, and start up the original instance.

Next week I will do an upgrade on the XenServer to 5.6.1. I hope no such problems will occur.

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