How to Upgrade from Rocky Linux 8 to 9

This step-by-step guide shows you how to easily upgrade your existing Rocky Linux 8 system to Rocky Linux 9.

Before we get into the technicalities, we need to state clearly the following. The procedure described in this guide has been tried and proved; nevertheless, the official recommendation is that upgrading from Rocky Linux 8 to 9 is not encouraged and that a clean install of Rocky 9 is preferable.

The Rocky Linux team does not recommend upgrades from one major version to the next (in this case 8.6 to 9.0). While it is technically possible to upgrade between major versions, we instead recommend a fresh install of the desired latest major version.

We must clarify this to inform you of the possible risks and consequences. With these clarifications, let us proceed to the main topic.

Step 1: Backing Up Your Rocky Linux 8 System

Before we begin upgrading to Rocky Linux 9 from 8, we strongly recommend that you back up your system. This ensures you can restore all vital data to its previous state if something goes wrong.

We recommend you use software that takes a snapshot of your whole operating system. However, you may find our “3 Best Free Hard Disk Imaging Software” guide helpful if you’re unsure exactly which one to use.

Additionally, you can always use a command like the one below to archive all the more important directories and their contents in a single tar.gz archive file.

sudo tar czf /rocky8.tar.gz \
     --exclude=/rocky8.tar.gz \
     --exclude=/dev \
     --exclude=/mnt \
     --exclude=/proc \
     --exclude=/sys \
     --exclude=/run \
     --exclude=/tmp \
     --exclude=/media \
     --exclude=/lost+found \
     /Code language: JavaScript (javascript)

Of course, add more --exclude= parameters if you need to. Finally, the command creates a backup of all the files and directories by placing them in the rocky8.tar.gz archive in the root partition (/). Then, this file must be transferred to another computer or drive, for example, using the SCP command.

Step 2: Update All Currently Installed Packages

Before upgrading, ensure your currently installed Rocky 8 system is up to date and upgraded to the latest Rocky’s 8.x series release. At the time of writing, this is Rocky Linux 8.9.

In the terminal, type the following DNF command:

sudo dnf update
Update all currently installed packages

If there are any pending updates, install them and, if necessary, reboot the system.

Step 3: Verify the Currently Installed Rocky Version

We’ll start by ensuring we’re running the most recent Rocky Linux 8.x point release. The most straightforward approach to determine what Rocky Linux version you are running is to use commands like the ones shown below.

cat /etc/redhat-release
Check Rocky version

Step 4: Prepare the System for Migration to Rocky 9

Important! If your current Rocky 8 system results from the previous migration from CentOS 7, as described here, the following step is necessary. Open the “/etc/yum.conf” file and remove the “exclude” line entirely. After doing so, save the changes and close the file.

Now, we will need to export several packages (“rocky-release,” “rocky-repos,” and “rocky-gpg-keys“) as environment variables required for the Rocky 8 to 9 upgrade process.

We will use these variables by passing them to the DNF command in a moment to install the specified packages.

In the meantime, however, these packages have probably been updated. Therefore, before executing the commands below, please check this link to confirm the current versions and update them accordingly in the command.

GPG_KEYS_PKG="rocky-gpg-keys-9.3-1.2.el9.noarch.rpm"Code language: JavaScript (javascript)
Add Rocky Linux 9 repositories

Finally, let’s install the packages themselves.

sudo dnf install $REPO_URL/$RELEASE_PKG $REPO_URL/$REPOS_PKG $REPO_URL/$GPG_KEYS_PKGCode language: PHP (php)
Add Rocky Linux 9 repositories

Step 5: Upgrade from Rocky Linux 8 to Rocky Linux 9

However, we must manually remove the “/usr/share/redhat-logos” directory before upgrading. Otherwise, the upgrade procedure will fail.

sudo rm -rf /usr/share/redhat-logos

Everything is now in place to upgrade from Rocky Linux 8 to 9. Run the command below:

sudo dnf -y --releasever=9 --allowerasing --setopt=deltarpm=false distro-syncCode language: JavaScript (javascript)

It will begin downloading and installing many packages, which will take some time. So be patient and wait for the process to complete.

The command may sometimes conclude with errors, but there’s no cause for concern. Simply review the output to identify which packages are responsible for the error. As shown оn the image below, in our case, the culprits are “iptables-ebtables” and “make-devel.”

To resolve this, we proceed by removing them by executing:

sudo yum remove iptables-ebtables make-devel

Repeat the previous command, and everything should go smoothly this time.

sudo dnf -y --releasever=9 --allowerasing --setopt=deltarpm=false distro-syncCode language: JavaScript (javascript)

Step 6: Rebuild the RPM Database

The Berkeley DB drives the RPM backend in Rocky Linux 8. However, in Rocky Linux 9, this has been changed, and the used backend is SQLite. This is why we need to rebuild the RPM database.

Fortunately, this is simple to accomplish by using the command below.

sudo rpm --rebuilddb
Rebuild the RPM database

We’re finally ready to boot into our new Rocky Linux 9 system. Okay, the moment of truth!

sudo reboot

The GRUB bootloader will greet you, and its list should now include the Linux kernel 5.14 used by Rocky Linux 9 (Blue Onyx).

Rocky Linux 9 GRUB bootloader

Once the system has successfully booted, you can log in.

Login in Rocky Linux 9

Step 7: Post-installation Steps

The first thing we will do, of course, is to confirm the version of our operating system by running the commands we already know:

cat /etc/redhat-release
Confirm successful upgrade from Rocky Linux 8 to 9

Congratulations! As can be seen, the upgrade from Rocky Linux 8 to 9 is successful.

However, specific modules may give an error message, “Modular dependency problems,” when we try to update our new Rocky 9 system. So, we choose “N” here and address this issue first.

sudo dnf update
Update all currently installed packages

Using the command below, we output a list of available DNF modules to see those incompatible with our Rocky 9 system.

sudo dnf module listCode language: JavaScript (javascript)
DNF module list

Then we disable them:

sudo dnf module disable mariadb python27 python36 virtCode language: JavaScript (javascript)
Disabling DNF modules

Of course, these modules will likely be different in your case, so approach disabling the modules relative to your case.

Finally, everything should go well if we try to update our Rocky 9 system again.

sudo dnf update
Updating Rocky Linux 9


This guide showed how to upgrade your system from Rocky Linux 8 to 9. I hope we have been helpful.

Lastly, we’d love it if you could share your upgrading experience in the comments below.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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