Upgrading Liferay

Liferay upgrades are fairly straightforward. A consistent set of steps is all you need to follow to upgrade a standard Liferay installation. Things do get more complicated if your organization has used Ext plugins to customize Liferay. It’s possible that API changes in the new version will break your existing code. This, however, is usually pretty easy for your developers to fix. Portlet plugins which use Liferay APIs should be reviewed and their services rebuilt against the new release. Theme plugins may require some modifications to take advantage of new features, and if they’re using Liferay APIs, they should be reviewed. Much effort has been made to make upgrades as painless as possible; however, this is not a guarantee everything will work without modification. Ext plugins are the most complicating factor in an upgrade, so it is important to test as much as possible.

As a general rule, you can upgrade from one major release to the next major release. For example, you can upgrade directly from Liferay 5.2.x to 6.0.x, but not from 5.2.x to 6.1.x. If you need to upgrade over several major releases, you’ll need to run the upgrade procedure for each major release until you reach the release you want. This doesn’t mean you need to run the procedure for every point release or service pack; you only need to run the procedure for the major releases. A good practice is to use the latest version of each major release to upgrade your system.

Now that we’ve gotten the general philosophy of upgrading out of the way, let’s outline the procedure you’ll undergo for upgrading a Liferay 6.0 installation to a 6.1 installation. If you’re running a previous version of Liferay and need to upgrade to 6.0 first, please see the instructions in the previous version of this document.

Preparing to Upgrade Liferay Portal 6.0 to Liferay Portal 6.1

There are a few things you should prepare before you actually perform the upgrade. Specifically, you need to make sure you’ve migrated to permission algorithm 6, reviewed your image gallery usage, reviewed new Liferay 6.1 defaults, and cataloged all the plugins you have installed. After you’ve performed these three tasks, you’re ready to upgrade. Let’s look at them one by one.

Migrate to Algorithm 6

If your Liferay installation has existed for a while, you may be on a different permission algorithm than the one that’s available in Liferay Portal 6.1. Permission algorithms 1-5 were deprecated in Liferay Portal 6.0, and they’ve now been removed in 6.1, which means you must migrate before you upgrade.

If you’re on Liferay 5.2 or below, you need to upgrade to the latest available release of Liferay 6.0 first. Please follow the instructions in the Liferay Portal Administrator’s Guide to do this. We will assume for the rest of this section that you have 6.0 running, and that it’s configured to use an older algorithm than algorithm 6.

The first thing you need to do, if this is not done already, is to upgrade your installation to algorithm 5. If you’ve already done that, great! You can skip the rest of this paragraph. If not, shut down your server, edit your portal-ext.properties file, and modify/add the following property so that it reads like this:


Restart your server. As Liferay starts, it upgrades your permissions algorithm to algorithm 5. Review your system to make sure that your permissions configuration is working properly (it should be).

Next, log in as an Administrator and navigate to the Control Panel. Go to Server Administration and select Data Migration from the menu along the top of the screen. A section entitled Legacy Permissions Migration appears at the bottom of the page.

Figure 17.9: Update your permissions algorithm by clicking the Execute

Figure 17.9: Update your permissions algorithm by clicking the *Execute* button.

Algorithms 5 and 6 do not support adding permissions at the user level. If you have permissions set for individual users, the converter can simulate this for you. To do this, it auto-generates roles for each individual permission, and then assigns those roles to the users who have individualized permissions. If you have a lot of these, you’ll likely want to go through and clean them up after the conversion process. To generate these roles, check the Generate Custom Roles box. If you do not generate the roles, all custom permissions set for individual users are discarded.

Click Execute to convert all existing users and roles to algorithm 6. When the process completes, shut down your server. Edit your portal-ext.properties file and modify the algorithm property to show that you’re now using algorithm 6:


Restart your server. Congratulations! You’ve successfully migrated your installation to use the latest, highest performing permissions algorithm. Next, you’ll need to explicitly set your Image Gallery storage option.

Liferay 6.1 introduces a major change to how Liferay handles files. No longer do we have a separate Document Library and Image Gallery; instead, these have been combined into Documents and Media. If you were using Liferay’s Image Gallery to store images, these can be migrated over during an upgrade, but you’ll have to take some extra steps first.

In Liferay 6.0, you had three ways you could store images in the Image Gallery. You could use the DatabaseHook and store them as BLOBs in the database; you could use the DLHook to store them in the Document Library, or you could use the FileSystemHook to store them in a folder on your server’s file system. Before you upgrade, you’ll need to set whichever property you were using in your 6.0 portal-ext.properties file, because by default, none of them are enabled in 6.1. Setting one of the properties triggers the migration during the upgrade process. Below are the three properties; you’ll need to set only one of them (the one you were using).


By default, Liferay 6.0 used the FileSystemHook. If you never customized this property for your installation, you’d use the FileSystemHook property above. If you customized the property, you should know which one you used, and it is likely already in your portal-ext.properties file.

The third thing you need to do to prepare for your upgrade is to review the new property defaults.

Review the New 6.1 Properties Defaults

The next thing you’ll need to look at are the defaults that have changed from 6.0 to 6.1. These are preserved in portal-legacy-6.0.properties in the source. The 6.0 values are:

setup.wizard.enabled=false discussion.subscribe.by.default=false

The 6.1 values have changed to:

setup.wizard.enabled=true discussion.subscribe.by.default=true

If you don’t like the defaults, you can change them back in one shot by adding a system property to your JVM’s startup. This differs by application servers. In Tomcat, you’d modify setenv.sh/setenv.bat and append the option -Dexternal-properties=portal-legacy-6.0.properties to the environment variable JAVA_OPTS. The scripts setenv.sh or setenv.bat are not delivered with default Tomcat, but do exist in the bundles. If they’re there, Tomcat uses them in the startup process, so it’s a nice way to separate your own settings from Tomcat’s default shell scripts. Alternatively, of course, you can override some or all of them in your portal-ext.properties along with your other overrides.

If you’re not using Tomcat, check your application server’s documentation to see how to modify runtime properties. Your final task is to catalog all the plugins you have installed, so you can install the new versions in your upgraded system.

Catalog All the Plugins You Have Installed

Finally, you need to take note of any plugins you have installed. Liferay’s plugins are usually version-specific, so you’ll need to obtain new versions of them for the new release of Liferay. If you have custom plugins created by your development team, they’ll need to build, test, and optionally modify them to work with the new release of Liferay. Don’t attempt an upgrade without collecting all the plugins you’ll need first.

Once you’ve upgraded your permissions algorithm, reviewed your properties, and collected all the plugins you’ll need, you’re ready to follow the upgrade procedure. Remember to back up your system before you begin.

There are two different procedures to upgrade Liferay. The first one, upgrading a Liferay bundle, is the most common. The second procedure is for upgrading a Liferay installation on an application server. We’ll go over both.

In both cases, Liferay auto-detects whether the database requires an upgrade the first time the new version is started. When Liferay does this, it upgrades the database to the format required by the new version. To perform this task, Liferay must be accessing the database with an ID that can create, drop and modify tables. Make sure you have granted these permissions to the ID before you attempt to upgrade Liferay. And, of course, we’ll run the risk of overly repeating ourselves: back up your database.

Let’s look at upgrading a bundle, which is the easiest upgrade path.

Upgrading a Bundle

If you’re running a Liferay bundle, the best way to do the upgrade is to follow the steps below. The new Liferay is installed in a newer version of your bundle runtime. For example, the Liferay/Tomcat bundle for 6.0 used Tomcat 6 by default; the 6.1 bundle uses Tomcat 7. We generally recommend you use the latest version of your runtime bundle, as it will be supported the longest.

  1. Obtain the new bundle. Unzip the bundle to an appropriate location on your system.

  2. Copy your portal-ext.properties file and your data folder to the new bundle.

  3. Review your portal-ext.properties file as described above. Make sure you’re using permissions algorithm 6. If you were using the Image Gallery, make the necessary modifications so your files are migrated to Documents and Media. Review the new defaults and decide whether you want to use them. Review any other modifications you’ve made.

  4. Start your application server. Watch the console as Liferay starts: it upgrades the database automatically.

  5. When the upgrade completes, install any plugins you were using in your old version of Liferay. Make sure you use the versions of those plugins that are designed for Liferay 6.1. If you have your own plugins, your development team will need to migrate the code in these ahead of time and provide .war files for you.

  6. Browse around in your new installation and verify everything is working. Have your QA team test everything. If all looks good, you can delete the old application server with the old release of Liferay in it from the bundle directory. You have a backup of it anyway, right?

As you can see, upgrading a bundle is generally pretty simple. But not everybody can use bundles: sometimes, specific application servers or application server versions are mandated by the environment you’re in or by management. For this reason, Liferay also ships as an installable .war file that can be used on any supported application server.

Upgrading Using a .war File

Running a manual upgrade is almost as easy as upgrading a bundle:

  1. Verify your application server is supported by Liferay. You can do this by viewing the appropriate document on the Customer Portal (EE), in chapter 14 (because there are installation instructions for it), or on liferay.com (CE). If your application server isn’t supported by Liferay 6.1, do not continue! You’ll need to upgrade or switch to a supported application server first.

  2. Obtain the Liferay Portal .war file and the dependency .jars archive.

  3. Copy your customized portal-ext.properties file to a safe place and review it as described above, making all the appropriate changes.

  4. Undeploy the old version of Liferay and shut down your application server.

  5. Copy the new versions of Liferay’s dependency .jars to a location on your server’s class path, overwriting the ones you already have for the old version of Liferay. This location is documented for your application server in chapter 14.

  6. Deploy the new Liferay .war file to your application server. Follow the deployment instructions in chapter 14.

  7. Start (or, if your app server has a console from which you’ve installed the .war, restart) your application server. Watch the console as Liferay starts: it should upgrade the database automatically. Verify your portal is operating normally, and then install any plugins you were using in your old version of Liferay. Make sure you use the versions of theose plugins designed for Liferay 6.1. If you have your own plugins, your development team will need to migrate the code in these ahead of time and provide .war files to you.

  8. Browse around in your new installation and verify everything is working. Have your QA team test everything. If all looks good, you’re finished.

That’s all there is to it. Most everything is handled by Liferay’s upgrade procedure. Note as stated above, if you have to upgrade over several Liferay versions, you will need to repeat these steps for each major release.

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