Alpine 3.19: what you need to know before installing it

Alpine Linux

Alpine Linux is a musl and BusyBox based Linux distribution, which aims to be lightweight and secure by default while still being useful for general purpose tasks.

A few days ago we shared here on the blog the news of the release of the new version of Alpine Linux 3.19 which It is a distribution that has gained recognition in the Linux community for its minimalist approach and efficient performance.

Alpine Linux adheres to the philosophy of “small, simple and secure”, making it a distribution that is particularly attractive for Raspberry Pi users, as it is a lightweight and powerful operating system.

Alpine Linux
Related article:
Alpine Linux 3.19 arrives with support for RPi 5, improvements and more

And it is that among the characteristics main aspects of this distribution we can highlight:

  1. Safety Orientation: Alpine Linux was designed with security in mind since it is a distribution that only has the necessary components, which means that it eliminates all unnecessary components to be a solid option.
  2. Light and minimalist: Alpine Linux is designed to be lightweight, making it ideal for resource-constrained systems. consume minimal disk space and has low memory requirements
  3. BusyBox Home System: Alpine Linux uses BusyBox as its boot system, which provides a set of Unix utilities in a single executable.
  4. Simple Init implementation: uses OpenRC as its init system, providing a simple and efficient implementation of the system initialization process with the minimum required for initial boot

If you are interested in being able to migrate from Alpine 3.18 to Alpine 3.19 without losing data or configurations or installing this distribution from scratch, it is important that you know some of the changes made in the latest release.

Alpine Linux 3.19 the update of the Linux kernel to version 6.6 LTS stands out along with which compatibility with Raspberry Pi 5 is added, as well as the consolidation of kernels, since the linux-rpi4 and linux-rpi2 kernels have been replaced by a single "linux-rpi".

Yggdrasil routing scheme update, networking software, to version 0.5, introducing a new routing scheme that may require adjustments for compatibility.

The Python packages directory is now marked as externally managed, which affects pip installations in apk-managed system directories. Users are recommended to consider alternatives like pipx.

In addition to this, we can also find updates to the desktop environments GNOME 45, LXQt 1.4 and for the KDE desktop environment, the KDE Gear 23.08 packages are included along with KDE Frameworks 5.112.

How to update Alpine Linux?

Already knowing a little about the details of Alpine Linux 3.19, you should know that The update process from a previous version is extremely simple And to avoid having to reinstall the entire system and, above all, losing your information and settings, you should know that you can do it in the following way.

The first thing about this and as we always recommend before any update/installation, is that you backup your personal information or that which you consider important, since although the procedure is simple, the recommendation is always to backup and not regret any unforeseen event.

Well said above, to update from a previous version (in this case migrating from Alpine 3.18 to Alpine 3.19) we must execute the following commands:

apk update
apk upgrade

apk add --upgrade apk-tools

apk upgrade --available

Done this we must verify and edit (if necessary) the file /etc/apk/repositories, to change the version number manually. For example, Alpine 3.18 to 3.19.

vi /etc/apk/repositories

Or equally we can use a configuration script that will basically do the same thing and ask us to just change the version number by pressing e. We can execute this script with:

setup-apkrepos

Once this is done, we proceed to type again:

apk update

And now we can perform a complete system update with:

apk upgrade --available && sync

At the end, it is important to update the installed boot loader before restarting and if you do not do so, the system will most likely not boot. To do this, simply execute the following command:

update-grub

Or in the case of BIOS systems (x86 or x86_64)

grub-install --boot-directory=/boot --target=i386-pc $disk

When finished, just execute:

reboot

How to update Alpine Linux on a Raspberry Pi?

Now in the case of Raspberry users, the process it may be a little different, so I can personally recommend that you rely on the Alpine Wiki for the process. You can check the details in the following link

If you are an adventurer or you prefer to save a little time, let me tell you that you can use a script to update Alpine on your Raspberry, this script is called "alpine-os-updater".

It is worth mentioning that this script is not official, so you should know that is a resource created by a user and whose purpose is:

  1. Upgrade an existing Alpine Linux installation from an older version to the latest version. This will perform the in-place update and preserve the previous version's community repository inclusion for the apk. A reboot is required as part of the update and a script will be run to complete the apk repository configuration transition and fix package installations that should be automatically updated on first boot.
  2. Since package availability may change from version to version, it is recommended will perform a check of all existing installed packages to check if they are available in the repository for the new version. If any package cannot be migrated to the new version, a message will be displayed to confirm that you want to continue before making changes to the system. If accepted, or if no problems are found, the script will continue with the installation.
  3. As part of this installer, all packages will be updated to the latest version available on the current system version operating system to try to ensure that your system can boot with networking and SSH after the upgrade. By default, this installer will use the latest stable version.

To use alpine-os-updater, just open a terminal and type in it:

wget --no-cache -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/XtendedGreg/alpine-os-updater/main/upgrade.sh | ash

When you run the script, it will perform the following actions:

  • It will reboot automatically and run some cleanup actions after the reboot to make sure the apk repositories point to the latest version and that the packages are updated and installed to match.
  • Once the installation is complete, a log file will appear in the root of the boot media.
  • Previous APK repository list will be moved /etc/apk/repositories.bak so you can manually move any custom repositories.

Finally if you are interested in knowing more about it about this script, you can check the details In the following link.


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