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Using Ubuntu 14.04 is there a way to upgrade exim4 without losing configuration? Preferably through apt.

Upon running apt-get --simulate upgrade it shows the package will be upgraded to 4.82-3ubuntu2.4, however the latest version appears to be 4.93 according to [exim.org].

Would the easiest solution be to compile this from source, copying any config files currently in place and just hope that they work with the new version?

    • Ubuntu 14.04 reached its end-of-life last year (except for Canonical's Extended Security Maintenance customers). You should consider upgrading the whole system to Ubuntu 16.04. Can you clarify why do you need to upgrade to a cutting-edge version of Exim?
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    • I completely agree, however due to circumstances (this being a production server) this will have to be scheduled in. We're looking to upgrade Exim first due to a number of CVSS 10 vulnerabilities affecting the installed version which can lead to full compromise of the server.

The configuration of exim4 is quite backwards compatible, although the maintainers of the exim4-config improve the rules from time to time (unfortunately the changelog is common for all exim4 packages).

I think your best choice is to upgrade to the xenial-updates package: the minimal versions of its dependencies are quite old, even from an Ubuntu 14.04 perspective, and it covers all recent vulnerabilities. You might get away with just upgrading the exim4-* packages.

You just need to:

  1. Add the xenial-updates repositories to your /etc/apt/sources.list:

    deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-updates main
  2. Set the default release to trusty in /etc/apt/apt.conf:

    APT::Default-Release "trusty";
  3. Pin the exim4* packages in /etc/apt/preferences:

    Package: exim4*
    Pin: release n="xenial"
    Priority: 900
  4. Normally upgrade the exim4 package:

    apt update
    apt install exim4

A normal upgrade process will not overwrite your configuration files, but it is better to make a backup. Afterwards you might want to merge the *.dpkg-dist files into your configuration.

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