I appreciate your help with this matter and will be as specific and accurate with my terms as possible. I have many older files saved as .gramps and .grdb that are both surname databases and backup ,.bak, copies, too.

I'll start with those files that I cannot import first. This is the error message I get when I attempt to import a  .grdb database into a new empty family tree. This is probably of of those databases that I moved from it's original directory.

/tmp/tmpni6tlW could not be opened

On Sun, Nov 29, 2009 at 5:27 AM, Duncan Lithgow <duncan.lithgow@gmail.com> wrote:
2009/11/29 . . <lrlaskey@gmail.com>:
> Surname files are my name for GRAMPS ".grdb" and ".gramps files.
Okay, now I'm with you. I can understand that you call them 'files',
they look like files. Actually they are databases, I think it's to
avoid this technical confusion that they are now just called 'Family
Trees' in Gramps.

> I have many
> of them because I have not been working on my genealogy for some time and I
> let several versions pass by without updating them.
Do you mean that your genealogy is composed of different parts of the
family stored in different 'Family Trees'? Or do you just mean that
you have many old backup copies?

> and GRAMPS cannot import them.
Don't worry, you can import them, it's just a matter of how
complicated it might get. As far as I know no-one has been forced to
lose data because of a format change.

> I was house cleaning. The consequences are that now I am getting error
> messages when I try to open or import older files.
I suggest you choose one example of your problem and ask for help with
that. Then while we solve one problem you will probably see how to
solve the others. The .gramps files you mentioned should import
without any problem. Make sure you import into a new _empty_ family
tree. The .grdb files are a bit trickier, but there are people on this
list who are happy to help (I've never had to recover a .grdb file
myself). Also you mentioned merging, for that I suggest you wait for a
later release of Gramps. There are no tools to help manage merging
databases - but the devs are working on fixing that.

> Is there a way to create gedcoms from the command line without opening
> GRAMPS? A gedcom could be opened in the new format.
I recommend you don't do that. Gramps can't promise that GEDCOM files
will have all the information inside that the original .gramps files

> I have learned a hard lesson. Whenever a program upgrades, save files to the
> new format. I should have done that several versions ago.
And this problem is in no way unique to Gramps - but at least the
gramps devs have made sure there is always a way to recover your data.

Regards, Duncan
PS. Ask a very specific question and you'll get more useful, and
shorter, answers :-)