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Raspbian Upgrade kills the RaspberryPi

It all started that I wanted to upgrade the PHP from version 7.0 to version 7.3/4, because wordpress was blaming about it. And I never would have imagined that an Raspbian Upgrade kills the RaspberryPi.

But first things first, that’s how the story goes that occupied my for two days.

Raspbian Upgrade kills the RaspberryPi

The base version of my Raspbian is Jessie, running on a standard RPi version 3. So I wanted to fetch the 7.3 PHP packages from the buster version of Raspbian. But I was unable to finish that process as the upgrade said, I had to break the 7.0. So I was afraid and stopped it.

The result was, that the system was completely messed up. The curl to the HTTPS world was no longer working. And I saw that even the udev package had some unmet dependencies. So I rebooted the system and it stopped completely while booting.

First attempt

What to do now?

I decided to install raspbian buster on a new hard disc (I once configured the RPi to boot directly from the USB hard drive) and install all the necessary applications based on the following tutorials:



For configuring the php fpm module I used https://tecadmin.net/install-apache-php-fpm-debian-10/

The last software part was getting an HTTPS certificate from let’s encrypt based on https://pimylifeup.com/raspberry-pi-ssl-lets-encrypt/

All these are really very good tutorials and worked like a charm (I just replaced once the mysql-server with mariadb-server). For connecting to the WordPress jetpack service you need also php-xml to be installed.

Fortunately I was performing a regular backup of the system with updraft. The restore worked perfectly. I was also using standard backups of the system that helped me a bit, but due to the HDD configuration I did not have a backup that I just could use, e.g. like an image to copy on the hard disk.

As I have a bit of a special wordpress installation (site URL != wordpress URL) I had to move the wordpress directory from „html“ to „wordpress“ and had to adapt the apache vhost configuration slightly.

After configuring all that the site was up and running again after around 5h.

So I thought, „Ok, let’s make a reboot.“ And the system stopped during boot.

What a shit!

The error message was:

usb usb1-port1: Cannot enable. Maybe the USB cable is bad?
usb usb1-port1: attempt power cycle

„Ok“ I thought as I was using a quite old hard disc, maybe it’s somthing wrong with the cable now. I decided to just flash the fine running hard disc of my former life system and do the process again (I was faster now, took me just 3h!)

Second attempt

After configuring everthing again, I made the reboot and…the system stopped again with the same error message.

„Ok, it cannot be that we are having here now exactly the same hardware problem with another hardware. So it must be a software issue. What did I do except just the install of new software? What was hardware related?“

There was one command:

pi@raspberrypi3:~ $ sudo apt-get upgrade
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
Calculating upgrade… Done
The following package was automatically installed and is no longer required:
Use 'sudo apt autoremove' to remove it.
The following packages will be upgraded:
ca-certificates firmware-atheros firmware-brcm80211 firmware-libertas firmware-misc-nonfree firmware-realtek
libgnutls30 libraspberrypi-bin libraspberrypi-dev libraspberrypi-doc libraspberrypi0 raspberrypi-bootloader
raspberrypi-kernel raspi-config rpi-eeprom rpi-eeprom-images
16 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 127 MB of archives.
After this operation, 6,477 kB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n]

After issuing this command the system did not boot anymore.

Final attempt

So, I did the installation process a third time (2h now), this time without the upgrade, and the system just works.

Since 2013 I’m working with this setup and it never happened that an upgrade of the operating system resulted in such a disaster!

Update from 16.08.2020

It works now. I did the upgrade in some package chunks to find out which packge caused the problem with the command:

sudo apt-get install --only-upgrade <package-name>

But I think it would have been not necessary. I have no idea, which package was changed in the mean time.

Von Gerhard Vogt

Born in Munich, but living more then 10 years now in the lovely Stuttgart area.
Grown up in a technical environment, moved then into the project and people management.
I'm interested in plenty of outdoor sports like sailing, biking, skiing, hiking, but also ball sports like tennis and badminton.
Travelling the world, and making photos is another hobby.
Never get bored! :-)

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