Moving from One OS to Another

In most situations, an individual or company will keep the same operating system for the entire time they use a server.  While there may be occasional upgrades, these usually do not involve switching to another OS completely.  At the end of the server’s life, however, you may decide to go with a different OS.  If you do, it is important to know the risks and the steps you will need to take to make the transition a smooth one.

1. Compatibility – Static HTML and Javascript pages will work on all web servers, but dynamically loaded server-side scripts may not.  A new OS may support PHP 5 but not PHP 4.  If you are moving from Windows to Linux or the opposite, you may end up needing to switch to a completely different development platform.

2. Data conversion – Just because your installation of FreeBSD ran a MySQL server does not mean your new CentOS server will handle your databases exactly the same way.  Make backups and test all data conversion before you go live.

3. Learn the server – A new operating system means a new system for you to learn.  Even switching from one Linux distribution to another may present some differences with package management systems and configuration file locations

4. Consider the money – After you have assessed all of the technical ramifications of migration, you need to quantify them.  How much will it cost to actually make the change?  The cost of the new server and OS are only a small part of the total amount involved in the migration.