It is possible to upgrade your Linux Mint to new release without
reinstallation. Be sure to read How to upgrade to a newer release tutorial
explaining why to upgrade and what are posibilities. If you decide to upgrade
your Linux Mint to newer release without complete reinstallation, you need to
read how to Upgrade linux mint in-place using apt.

I recommend to download all packages first using command apt-get -d dist-upgrade.

I have upgraded my Linux Mint 15 (Olivia) to 16 (Petra) with only one glitch,
which was kernel panic during apt-get dist-upgrade command. Afterwards system
was not able to boot. To fix that I booted from USB stick, mounted partitions
from the hard drive, mounted proc, dev and sys, chroot to mounted partition and
continued with upgrade. dpkg command was necessary to be able to continue with
apt-get command.

Commands example:

# mkdir /mnt/root
# fsck /dev/sda1
# mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/root
# mount -t proc proc /mnt/root/proc
# mount --rbind /dev /mnt/root/dev
# mount --rbind /sys /mnt/root/sys
# chroot /mnt/root /bin/bash
# source /etc/profile
# dpkg --configure -a
# apt-get dist-upgrade

If you have questions/comments, feel free to conact me at my e-mail.

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