Updating your Open Outreach site

With a typical Drupal site, you might be used to downloading and installing module or Drupal core updates one by one, when you receive update notifications.

With a distribution like Open Outreach, however, there are additional factors to consider:

  • To achieve its specific aims, a distribution may include "patches" (modifications) to the code it includes. If you update without applying these patches, critical features may break or disappear.
  • Because a distribution is often a complex and carefully designed whole, replacing a single part at a time, like updating a module, can have unexpected outcomes. Changes introduced in the new module version may well break existing functionality.
  • Because they include Drupal core, distributions cannot be updated through the "Update" tab on the Modules page.

Updating to the latest distribution release

If you've decided to stay on the distribution update path, you'll probably want to ignore update notices for individual modules or Drupal core, unless they are security updates. Rather than updating one by one, you'll instead be updating when a new version of the distribution is available.

Like any time you're updating, unless a new release is a designated security update, or contains fixes to problems on your site, you may choose to wait before updating. See the drupal.org documentation on updating and upgrading a Drupal site.

It is important to note that updating a distribution is different than updating a module. You cannot do directly from the updates page, as that refers only to the module not the distribution.

Basic steps to update your distribution-based site (adapted from Open Publish documentation) might be:

  • Make full backup of your installation.
  • Download the new release from either the drupal.org project page or the downloads section and unpack it on top of your old one.
  • Run update, via http://yourdomain.com/update.php.
  • Do any special stuff specific to the update, like enabling required modules.
  • Clear caches.
  • Go to admin/structure/features if it's a Drupal 7 site or admin/build/features if it's Drupal 6. If you see any features showing "overriden" status, go into the feature with your list of intentionally overridden components in hand. Check overridden components - unless these are components that you've intentionally overridden - and click on "revert components". Repeat for all other overridden features.

But, again, each release will have its quirks--look for release notes to guide you through the update or upgrade.

For a longer discussion about staying on the distribution path or forking a distribution from which this was excerpted see Tips for building a site off a Drupal distribution.