The tune2fs program can add a journal to an existing ext2 file system without altering the data already on the partition. If the file system is already mounted while it is being transitioned, the journal will be visible as the file .journal in the root directory of the file system. If the file system is not mounted, the journal will be hidden and will not appear in the file system at all.
To convert an ext2 file system to ext3, log in as root and type:
/sbin/tune2fs -j /dev/hdbX
In the above command, replace /dev/hdb with the device name and X with the partition number.
After doing this, be certain to change the partition type from ext2 to ext3 in /etc/fstab.
If you are transitioning your root file system, you will have to use an initrd image (or RAM disk) to boot. To create this, run the mkinitrd program. For information on using the mkinitrd command, type man mkinitrd. Also make sure your GRUB or LILO configuration loads the initrd.
If you fail to make this change, the system will still boot, but the file system will be mounted as ext2 instead of ext3.