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Ancient 6.0 upgrade?

Artur Chlebek


My my my what do we have here... An ancient Dell PowerEdge T710 with 2 x Xeon X5690, sporting XenServer 6.0 with free license expired in 2019 and ...5 YEARS OF UPTIME! ?

There are 2 disabled VMs and one running Windows Server 2008 R2 with email server. I guess their up to date FortiGate keeps it running away from exploits...

It's an SMB that isn't very keen on spending any money and wants that local mail server...

I don't know what I'll do yet (migrate to something newer, maybe convince them to external mail...) but from what I gathered if that server shuts down, that VM wont boot up due to expired license, which is too old to be renewed.

I backed up XenServer and VM snapshot, but it won't be this week until decisions, perhaps purchases and setting up something new completes - by that time I don't want to sit on this ticking bomb which won't boot up if something happens, and which sooner or later I'll probably want to reboot to do something. I did read about back dating but I find it risky with mail server.


Having some experience in quick and flawless XenServer upgrades I'd try to upgrade it to a version where I can at least freely reboot the VM, but what would be the upgrade path?

From what I know there's no upgrade from old Citrix XenServer to newest hypervisors which don't support these CPUs nor 2008R2 anyway.

XenServer 7.6 seems to be the last free which would support such an old system? But will the free license accept 2 sockets? And is free license for such an old version acquirable yet?

Maybe upgrading to something older would be more hassle free/safer? But which version to choose?

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Should I even ask the version of the mail server? Or Fortigate FW?  lol.  Honestly for old hardware if you could convince them to do a hardware refresh look at XCP-ng. 7.x/8,x  has the better partitioning scheme you could then more easily take advantage of my having a new system fresh up and running then do VM migrations. Trying to upgrade what you have could just easily run into downtime and outages. And like you mention if its just email maybe they would be best served by going with a cloud options.




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There should be a 30 day grace period that you can run it for free. Not sure what the point of risking an upgrade to another XenServer version 

that would be equal risky to upgrade to XCP-ng. I tried to get a later free edition download and my login would not let me get one. I was able

to Google and find the 7.6 Free Edition.  Just remember 6.x to 7.x hardware was added/removed from HCL so it may or may not work.




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Mail server is ancient but Fortigate is fresh, and that's probably what keeps it out of zombie state lol!

They love that local mail server because they mostly exchange stuff via email, and locally (~10 employees) its instant even if there's large attachment...

I'm unable to say what will come through yet, I managed to boot the backups (well, backups of backups) in HyperV on a desktop computer (it feels faster than that server haha!) - now I can simulate an upgrade. Alan, what version would you suggest to try so it gives me possibility to reboot freely on real hardware? Downtime is not a huge issue - I'll try afterhours and even if quick upgrade fails I shall be able to bring things back up through a night this way or another. It's a question of minutes VS hours or a weekend of my time, before I give them a new solution.

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Not sure I follow your upgrade/update plan. I wouldn't do any upgrade to the existing server, upgrades may fail due to hardware being old and backup plans become difficult on a single server. Plus to get the new partition layout would require wiping the local storage, again not a good warm fuzzy feeling on that with old hardware and relying 100% on backups. A new server and fresh latest LTSR (if you are licensed) would be the way to go.  Now something else you could look at doing is setting up a NFS SR and migrating your data to NFS, upgrading the server if you think the hardware will support it, and being off local storage your data on NFS SR would be preserved. Then you could migrate it back after the upgrade. I think version 6 supported storage migration.




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There's no plan yet, right now I want to upgrade XenServer to the oldest possible version with free license without time limits, so I can freely reboot. Upgrade takes minutes and if it succeeds (I can simulate on HyperV first) I have much more freedom and peace of mind before further decisions are taken.

No huge problem if upgrade fails - I can restore from backups or boot it on something else, wasting several hours or a weekend instead of minutes.

On monday there's a meeting where decisions will be made what to ultimately do with that system.


Short question: what is the oldest XenServer version that will let me freely reboot without licence time limits?






Something else?


And can I try to upgrade straight to that version or was there some upgrade path recommended?


Best regards.

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Upgrade to 7.0 or XCP-ng seems like a bit too much - partition layout change. I remember that there were some changes in licensing in 6.x - do you remember what?

These are the versions available for download from Citrix:

  • XenServer 6.5 Standard Edition
  • XenServer 6.2.0
  • XenServer 6.1
  • XenServer 6.0.2 Common Criteria Version
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On 2/24/2022 at 7:52 AM, Artur Chlebek said:

Looks very interesting, thank you I'll try that.

Alan do you remember if there were any horror stories of upgrading to >7 without partition scheme change? You wrote that legacy too little partition size was problematic.

Also note the dreaded Dell extra tiny partition that can cause issues. See: http://xenserver.pl/citrix-xenserver/from-the-field-xenserver-7-x-pool-upgrades-part-2-updates-and-aftermath/10198 (thanks very much for hosting this, xenserver.pl, since Citrix abandoned its own XenServer blog!)



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