However I don't have enough room to back up everything on any external hardware, and am limited in funds. Can't just go out and buy new stuff. Thats why I want to do an in place upgrade. Being this is not a straight Ubuntu distro, I'm looking for guidance on how to update it, now preferably to Pearl 9 Mate, without a full erase and re-install.
If it is any help, I recently upgraded another Ubuntu-based distro by installing the new one and using the previous backup from Déjà Dup. That way you get the best of both worlds - newest OS + original data. Some tweaking is involved, i.e. reinstalling all the apps, but all your data and settings are preserved.
I'm so content with Pearl 7.1 Mate Rolling that I am reluctant to apply the above to that installation but the question really is how long will the 7.1 continue to be supported?