5.8. Upgrading to New Releases

Upgrading Bugzilla is something we all want to do from time to time, be it to get new features or pick up the latest security fix. How easy it is to update depends on a few factors:

5.8.1. Version Definitions

Bugzilla displays the version you are using at the top of most pages you load. It will look something like '2.16.7' or '2.18rc3' or '2.19.1+'. The first number in this series is the Major Version. This does not change very often (that is to say, almost never); Bugzilla was 1.x.x when it was first created, and went to 2.x.x when it was re-written in perl in Sept 1998. If/When the major version is changed to 3.x.x, it will signify a significant structural change and will be accompanied by much fanfare and many instructions on how to upgrade, including a revision to this page. :)

The second number in the version is called the 'minor number', and a release that changes the minor number is called a 'point release'. An even number in this position (2.14, 2.16, 2.18, 2.20, etc.) represents a stable version, while an odd number (2.17, 2.19, etc.) represents a development version. In the past, stable point releases were feature-based, coming when certain enhancements had been completed, or the Bugzilla development team felt that enough progress had been made overall. As of version 2.18, however, Bugzilla has moved to a time-based release schedule; current plans are to create a stable point release every 6 months or so after 2.18 is deployed.

The third number in the Bugzilla version represents a bugfix version. Bugfix Revisions are normally released only to address security vulnerabilities; in the future, it is likely that the Bugzilla development team will back-port bugfixes in a new point release to the old point release for a limited period. Once enough of these bugfixes have accumulated (or a new security vulnerability is identified and closed), a bugfix release will be made. As an example, 2.16.6 was a bugfix release, and improved on 2.16.5.


When reading version numbers, everything separated by a point ('.') should be read as a single number. It is not the same as decimal. 2.14 is newer than 2.8 because minor version 14 is greater than minor version 8. 2.24.11 would be newer than 2.24.9 (because bugfix 11 is greater than bugfix 9. This is confusing to some people who aren't used to dealing with software.

5.8.2. Upgrading - Methods and Procedure

There are three different ways to upgrade your installation.

  1. Using CVS (Section

  2. Downloading a new tarball (Section

  3. Applying the relevant patches (Section

Each of these options has its own pros and cons; the one that's right for you depends on how long it has been since you last installed, the degree to which you have customized your installation, and/or your network configuration. (Some discussion of the various methods of updating compared with degree and methods of local customization can be found in Section 5.7.2.)

The larger the jump you are trying to make, the more difficult it is going to be to upgrade if you have made local customizations. Upgrading from 2.18 to 2.18.1 should be fairly painless even if you are heavily customized, but going from 2.14 to 2.18 is going to mean a fair bit of work re-writing your local changes to use the new files, logic, templates, etc. If you have done no local changes at all, however, then upgrading should be approximately the same amount of work regardless of how long it has been since your version was released.


Upgrading is a one-way process. You should backup your database and current Bugzilla directory before attempting the upgrade. If you wish to revert to the old Bugzilla version for any reason, you will have to restore from these backups.

The examples in the following sections are written as though the user were updating to version 2.18.1, but the procedures are the same regardless of whether one is updating to a new point release or simply trying to obtain a new bugfix release. Also, in the examples the user's Bugzilla installation is found at /var/www/html/bugzilla. If that is not the same as the location of your Bugzilla installation, simply substitute the proper paths where appropriate. Upgrading using CVS

Every release of Bugzilla, whether it is a point release or a bugfix, is tagged in CVS. Also, every tarball that has been distributed since version 2.12 has been created in such a way that it can be used with CVS once it is unpacked. Doing so, however, requires that you are able to access cvs-mirror.mozilla.org on port 2401, which may not be an option or a possibility for some users, especially those behind a highly restrictive firewall.


If you can, updating using CVS is probably the most painless method, especially if you have a lot of local changes.

The following shows the sequence of commands needed to update a Bugzilla installation via CVS, and a typical series of results.

bash$ cd /var/www/html/bugzilla
bash$ cvs login
Logging in to :pserver:[email protected]:2401/cvsroot
CVS password: ('anonymous', or just leave it blank)
bash$ cvs -q update -r BUGZILLA-2_18_1 -dP
P checksetup.pl
P collectstats.pl
P globals.pl
P docs/rel_notes.txt
P template/en/default/list/quips.html.tmpl


If a line in the output from cvs update begins with a C, then that represents a file with local changes that CVS was unable to properly merge. You need to resolve these conflicts manually before Bugzilla (or at least the portion using that file) will be usable. Upgrading using the tarball

If you are unable (or unwilling) to use CVS, another option that's always available is to obtain the latest tarball from the Download Page and create a new Bugzilla installation from that.

This sequence of commands shows how to get the tarball from the command-line; it is also possible to download it from the site directly in a web browser. If you go that route, save the file to the /var/www/html directory (or its equivalent, if you use something else) and omit the first three lines of the example.

bash$ cd /var/www/html
bash$ wget ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/webtools/bugzilla-2.18.1.tar.gz
(Output omitted)
bash$ tar xzvf bugzilla-2.18.1.tar.gz
(Output truncated)
bash$ cd bugzilla-2.18.1
bash$ cp ../bugzilla/localconfig* .
bash$ cp -r ../bugzilla/data .
bash$ cd ..
bash$ mv bugzilla bugzilla.old
bash$ mv bugzilla-2.18.1 bugzilla


The cp commands both end with periods which is a very important detail, it tells the shell that the destination directory is the current working directory.

This upgrade method will give you a clean install of Bugzilla with the same version as the tarball. That's fine if you don't have any local customizations that you want to maintain, but if you do then you will need to reapply them by hand to the appropriate files.

It's worth noting that since 2.12, the Bugzilla tarballs come CVS-ready, so if you decide at a later date that you'd rather use CVS as an upgrade method, your code will already be set up for it. Upgrading using patches

If you are doing a bugfix upgrade -- that is, one where only the last number of the revision changes, such as from 2.16.6 to 2.16.7 -- then you have the option of obtaining and applying a patch file from the Download Page. This file is made available by the Bugzilla Development Team, and is a collection of all the bug fixes and security patches that have been made since the last bugfix release. If you are planning to upgrade via patches, it is safer to grab this developer-made patch file than to read the patch notes and apply all (or even just some of) the patches oneself, as sometimes patches on bugs get changed before they get checked in.

As above, this example starts with obtaining the file via the command line. If you have already downloaded it, you can omit the first two commands.

bash$ cd /var/www/html/bugzilla
bash$ wget ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/webtools/bugzilla-2.18.0-to-2.18.1.diff.gz
(Output omitted)
bash$ gunzip bugzilla-2.18.0-to-2.18.1.diff.gz
bash$ patch -p1 < bugzilla-2.18.0-to-2.18.1.diff
patching file checksetup.pl
patching file collectstats.pl
patching file globals.pl


Be aware that upgrading from a patch file does not change the entries in your CVS directory. This could make it more difficult to upgrade using CVS (Section in the future.

5.8.3. Completing Your Upgrade

Regardless of which upgrade method you choose, you will need to run ./checksetup.pl before your Bugzilla upgrade will be complete.

bash$ cd bugzilla
bash$ ./checksetup.pl


The period at the beginning of the command ./checksetup.pl is important and can not be omitted.

If you have done a lot of local modifications, it wouldn't hurt to run the Bugzilla Testing suite. This is not a required step, but it isn't going to hurt anything, and might help point out some areas that could be improved. (More information on the test suite can be had by following this link to the appropriate section in the Developers' Guide.)