Upgrading Fedora Linux Online Using Package Manager

Ben Cotton, Kamil Páral, Caleb McKee Version F37, F38, F39, F40 Last review: 2023-11-07
This page contains information explaining how to upgrade Fedora Linux online using dnf (without the DNF system upgrade plugin).

This is not a supported upgrade method. Read Upgrading to a new release of Fedora Linux to see a list of supported and tested upgrade methods. The steps included in the guide are at your own risk.

Upgrading Fedora Linux using dnf directly


If you are upgrading using DNF and it shows any general dependency issues, please file them in Bugzilla. But please read this page, all references pages and search the mailing list archives before filing bugs. And of course, please help keep this page updated.

If you want to help make live upgrades work smoothly, join the Live Upgrade Special Interest Group.

Upgrading across multiple releases

If you need to upgrade across several releases, it is generally recommended to go one release at a time: for example, rather than going directly from Fedora Linux 37 to Fedora Linux 39, first go to Fedora Linux 38 and then to Fedora Linux 39. This tends to reduce the number of package dependency issues you may encounter. If you are upgrading from an End of life release, please also see the end-of-life section.

Instructions to upgrade using dnf

1. Backup your system

Backup any personal data to an external hard drive or to another machine. If there is some unrecoverable error that requires a fresh install, you don’t want to lose any data.

2. Read about common problems

Further down in this page there is a list of common problems specific to dnf upgrades for specific versions. Some of them require attention before the upgrade.

General advice on upgrading Fedora Linux can be found on the Upgrading page. You should also read the Installation Guide and Release Notes for the version you plan to upgrade to - they contain important information regarding upgrading issues. Finally, check the list of Common bugs.

3. Clean Stuff

Review and remove all .rpmsave and .rpmnew files before and after upgrading. (And if you have selinux enabled then remember to check security context if you move config files around.)

Find unused config files + Merge and resolve the changes found by the following script: dnf install rpmconf; rpmconf -a. Now find and remove old config which nobody owns: rpmconf -c.

Now is a good time to remove packages you don’t use - especially non-standard packages.

Find and review "unused" packages + You can find packages not required by other packages with the tool package-cleanup from the dnf-utils package: dnf install dnf-utils; package-cleanup --leaves. These packages could be candidates for removal, but check to see whether you use them directly or if they are used by applications not backed by rpm packages. Remove them with dnf remove package-name-and-version. Another useful tool for cleaning up unused packages is rpmreaper. It’s an ncurses application that lets you view rpm dependency graph and mark packages for deletion. Marking one package can make other packages leaf, which you can see immediately, so you don’t have to run the tool several times to get rid of a whole sub-tree unused packages. Install with dnf install rpmreaper.
Find and review "lost" packages + You can find orphaned packages (i.e. packages not in the repositories anymore) with package-cleanup --orphans. This will also show packages which have been partially uninstalled but where the "%postun" script failed.

4. Do the upgrade

If you have 3rd party repositories configured, you may need to adjust them for the new Fedora Linux version. If you switch from one Fedora Linux release to another there is often nothing that needs to be done. If you switch to Rawhide from a standard Fedora Linux release (or vice versa) then most of the time you will need to install the Rawhide release RPMs from the 3rd party repository as well (or the standard ones, if switching back).

Note that the upgrade is likely to fail if there are outdated dependencies from packages not backed by a dnf repository or backed by a repository which isn’t ready for the new version.

It is a good idea to do the upgrade outside the graphical environment. Log out of your graphical desktop and then


A small script named fedora-upgrade is available which aims to automate the process outlined below. To run it, do the following

$ sudo dnf install fedora-upgrade
$ sudo fedora-upgrade

When performing upgrade via remote shell, it is a good idea to use screen or tmux utility to be able to get back to running transaction in case your connection drops.

Alternatively, follow the manual steps:

Go to a text console

ctrl + alt + F2


log in as root, and go into multi-user.target

systemctl isolate multi-user.target

Fully update your current Fedora Linux install

# dnf upgrade

Install the package signing key for the release you are upgrading to

If you are upgrading across two releases or fewer from Fedora Linux 20 or later, this step should be unnecessary. If you are upgrading from an older Fedora Linux or upgrading across three or more releases, you may need to import the signing key for the target release.

If it turns out not to be, you should be able to import keys like so:

 # rpm --import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-fedora-23-x86_64

, replacing "23" and "x86_64" with the new Fedora Linux version and your architecture, respectively.

You can also find package signing keys for currently-supported releases here. Keys for EOL releases can be found here. Click Primary (or Secondary, if you are using a secondary architecture), and you will see Get it from: Fedora Project, where Fedora Project is a link. Copy that URL, and run:

 # rpm --import (url)

to install the key. On old releases, rpm may have trouble doing this; if that happens, download the file with curl -o or wget and import the downloaded file.

Clean the cache

Then remove all traces of the version you are leaving from the dnf cache in /var/cache/dnf.

# dnf clean all

Upgrade all packages

Never upgrade on battery power + Never run the upgrade operation on battery power! Always connect to the mains, if using a laptop. However, if your system does have a battery, it’s a good idea to ensure it’s charged and connected in case of a power outage during the upgrade.
Do not interrupt an upgrade for any reason + Once a live upgrade is started, do not stop the upgrade by rebooting, killing the process, or by any other method until it is complete. Interrupting an upgrade will cause the affected system to be in a mixed state — partially the old release and partially the new release. In this state, the system will not be reliable and will not operate as expected. You can try running dnf distro-sync and package-cleanup --problems to try and fix the problems.

Run the upgrade command:

# dnf --releasever=<target_release_number> --setopt=deltarpm=false distro-sync
Dependency issues + If you experience any dependency problems, you have to solve them manually. These are often caused by packages being retired in the newer release, but not properly obsoleted. Often it is enough to remove several problematic package(s). You may find that a package you care about depends on a package that must be removed for the upgrade to proceed. Usually you will be able to reinstall the important package once the upgrade is complete.

If it seems like you must remove a package with many dependencies, especially ones that look important, please be careful. If you are attempting to upgrade across multiple releases, try a smaller jump to see if that avoids the problem.

If you are at all unsure in any way, ask for help on a mailing list, forum or IRC before removing packages.

5. Make sure Fedora Linux is upgraded

Distro-sync will usually take care of upgrades for the third party repositories you have enabled as well. Confirm with dnf repolist after the upgrade process is over. dnf might complain about conflicts or requirements. That is probably because you have used non-standard repositories or installed non-standard packages manually. Try to guess which packages cause the problem (or at least is a part of the dependency chain) - uninstall them and try again. Remember to install the packages again if they are essential.

Ensure that all (new) essential packages from the new version are installed with

# dnf groupupdate 'Minimal Install'

You might want to update other groups too, see

# dnf grouplist

For example

# dnf groupupdate "GNOME Desktop" \
    "Development Tools" "Sound and Video" \
    "Games and Entertainment" "Administration Tools" \
    "Office/Productivity" "System Tools"

6. Preparing for reboot

Before booting you should usually install the bootloader from your new grub by running

/usr/sbin/grub2-install BOOTDEVICE
  • where BOOTDEVICE is often /dev/sda or /dev/vda for some virtual machine installs. If you have more than one hard disk, make sure you use the correct device!

If you get an error (e.g. /dev/sda does not have any corresponding BIOS drive) from that, then try /usr/sbin/grub2-install --recheck BOOTDEVICE.

It might also be necessary to update the grub config file:

cp --backup=numbered -a /boot/grub2/grub.cfg{,.bak} # create backup copy
/usr/sbin/grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg # update config file

7. Cleanup your system

Again, cleanup your system as described in section 2. Also you might want to remove some cache files that are no longer used, for example files from older Fedora Linux releases in the following directories:

  • /var/cache/dnf

  • /var/cache/mock

  • /var/lib/mock

Release specific notes

Note: the release-specific notes for End of life releases are on the EOL packager manager upgrade page.

From pre-release

If you are upgrading to a final release from an Alpha, Beta, or release candidate, please see Upgrading from pre-release to final.

To Rawhide

See the Rawhide release page for more information on Rawhide.

# dnf upgrade
# dnf install dnf-plugins-core fedora-repos-rawhide
# dnf config-manager --set-disabled fedora updates updates-testing
# dnf config-manager --set-enabled rawhide
# dnf clean -q dbcache packages metadata
# dnf --releasever=rawhide --setopt=deltarpm=false distro-sync --nogpgcheck

## Optional: it is generally advised to do a selinux autorelabel and reboot
# touch /.autorelabel

Fedora Linux 31

Before running

dnf distro-sync

you must run

dnf module reset libgit2 exa bat

Fedora Linux 30

No special instructions. Follow the above instructions.

Fedora Linux 29

No special instructions. Follow the above instructions.

Upgrading from legacy end of life (EOL) Fedora Linux releases

Note that Fedora strongly recommends against ever running an end-of-life release on any production system, or any system connected to the public internet, in any circumstances. You should never allow a production Fedora Linux deployment to reach end-of-life in the first place.

With that in mind, if you do have an end-of-life release installed on a system you cannot just discard or re-deploy, you can attempt to upgrade it, though this is a less-tested and less-supported operation.

For detailed instructions on upgrades from EOL releases, please read Upgrading from EOL Fedora Linux using package manager.

See a typo, something missing or out of date, or anything else which can be improved? Edit this document at https://pagure.io/fedora-docs/quick-docs.