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#1 2014-05-01 18:08:57

Wilhelm
Member
Registered: 2012-12-06
Posts: 37

Automatic upgrade

Once upon a time I had set up upgrade to run daily without confirmations.

I booted my computer. Well, at least I tried to.
It didn't boot. There was deadlines for that day.

These days I upgrade manually as you all should.

What if we didn't have to?

What do you think if pacman knew if some upgrade had manual steps and wouldn't upgrade that package if specified so?

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#2 2014-05-01 18:12:43

Inxsible
Forum Fellow
From: Chicago
Registered: 2008-06-09
Posts: 9,073

Re: Automatic upgrade

Wilhelm wrote:

Once upon a time I had set up upgrade to run daily without confirmations.

I booted my computer. Well, at least I tried to.
It didn't boot. There was deadlines for that day.

These days I upgrade manually as you all should.

What if we didn't have to?

What do you think if pacman knew if some upgrade had manual steps and wouldn't upgrade that package if specified so?

The worst idea ever. As a responsible Arch user, you are supposed to look at the pacman output and do the needful.

Else, you are on your own. Don't be lazy !


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#3 2014-05-01 18:38:38

Trilby
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From: Massachusetts, USA
Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 14,000
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Re: Automatic upgrade

Huh?  What is the point of this?

You acknowledge the way it works, but you ask "what if we didn't have to?"

Maybe this should be moved to the "Try This" forum as it reads a bit like

I once tried holding my breath for an hour, but I passed out.
These days I breath regularly as you all should.
What if we didn't have to?
What would you think if our bodies didn't need oxygen?


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#4 2014-05-01 18:53:35

Wilhelm
Member
Registered: 2012-12-06
Posts: 37

Re: Automatic upgrade

What a great idea. Just not so easily implemented.
I find it funny that inferior Windows has automatic updates, which do not mess your computer, but arch linux does not.
You are both speaking as manual intervention is a must have feature. Is there any other personal computer that does this?
I'm saying that those features would be separated from another packages and upgraded when manual command is issued.

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#5 2014-05-01 18:56:25

jasonwryan
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From: .nz
Registered: 2009-05-09
Posts: 19,046
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Re: Automatic upgrade

Wilhelm wrote:

You are both speaking as manual intervention is a must have feature. Is there any other personal computer that does this?
I'm saying that those features would be separated from another packages and upgraded when manual command is issued.

They are a "must have" feature for a distro that explicitly focusses on giving the user complete control and responsibility for their system.

Automatic updates are fine; they are just anathema to the Arch philosophy. See https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Th … er-centric


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#6 2014-05-01 19:01:49

tomk
Forum Fellow
From: Ireland
Registered: 2004-07-21
Posts: 9,838

Re: Automatic upgrade

Trilby wrote:

I once tried holding my breath for an hour, but I passed out.
These days I breath regularly as you all should.
What if we didn't have to?
What would you think if our bodies didn't need oxygen?

Awesome Trilby, I love it. smile

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#7 2014-05-01 19:03:25

Trilby
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From: Massachusetts, USA
Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 14,000
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Re: Automatic upgrade

Windows has automatic updates of only a few applications and the occasional security patch to more core elements of the system.  Windows does not use a rolling release model where everything is regularly updated.  Windows updates are tested by paid staff who take responsibility (in theory) of a product they sell.  And "windows" *is* still regularly messed up by these updates - the users just don't notice as they assume having programs frequenty crash and needing to frequently reboot for no apparent reason are "normal".

I quote windows in the last sentence, as its not really windows that is messed up, but the user's system ... because said user is not really in control of their system.  Proficient windows users may never have such issues - but I'd also suspect that proficient windows users disable automatic updates.

Last edited by Trilby (2014-05-01 19:08:10)


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#8 2014-05-01 19:15:08

Wilhelm
Member
Registered: 2012-12-06
Posts: 37

Re: Automatic upgrade

If this distribution's ideology is in "everything is done manually", what else could I do but agree.
Probably some other distribution should be made on top of the wonderful Arch linux to provide a decent alternative for normal people.

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#9 2014-05-01 19:21:00

Inxsible
Forum Fellow
From: Chicago
Registered: 2008-06-09
Posts: 9,073

Re: Automatic upgrade

Wilhelm wrote:

If this distribution's ideology is in "everything is done manually", what else could I do but agree.
Probably some other distribution should be made on top of the wonderful Arch linux to provide a decent alternative for normal people.

I think requesting automatic upgrade is the abnormal behavior -- at least for the rolling release model.

Consider this, what if the mirror that you are using does not sync correctly ? For eg. out of 20-30 odd packages, it only syncs about 10 (for whatever reason -- bug/network issues etc). Lets assume that those 10 packages are valid for your "automatic upgrade" that is they don't normally require manual intervention if all dependencies are met. Now according to you they will be upgraded leading to a broken and possibly unbootable system.

Why should the mirror providers be responsible for your system? Extending that, why should the developers be responsible for your system?


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#10 2014-05-01 20:00:57

Xyne
Moderator/TU
Registered: 2008-08-03
Posts: 5,695
Website

Re: Automatic upgrade

I think there is some miscommunication in this thread and it's feeding two different stereotypes.

Wilhelm has tried to automate updates and ended up with an unbootable system. Lesson learned. He now updates manually as he should, but he is musing about the possibility to make Pacman aware of updates that required manual intervention.

Everyone else seems to be mischaracterizing this as his asking for a fully automatic handholding experience, which it isn't. By responding this way, you are perpetuating the view of Archers are elitist and impractical for the sake of it.

Manual intervention during upgrades is indicated by install and upgrade functions in the install script. If any type of intervention is required the packager must be aware of it when the package is created.  It is therefore not infeasible to use the install script to make Pacman aware of a required manual intervention which could then abort an upgrade if the --noconfirm option is passed (or a new, similar option). Most of the time an upgrade requires no intervention whatsoever and being able to automatically schedule those would be convenient for many users (obviously at their own reduced risk)

The other indicator of manual intervention is the front page news, but in truth that information should always be in the package.

The Arch philosophy is not "do everything manually, no matter what". If it were, we would be manually untarring packages directly instead of installing them with Pacman. Arch philosophy is about technical simplicity and user control, neither of which would be violated by making Pacman aware of the need for manual intervention.

As for the partially sync'd mirror example, incompatible packages should be tracked by Pacman. The only reason this is an issue is because devs and TUs (myself included) are lazy when it comes to properly specifying dependencies. If a package is built against a new version of a library that is incompatible with the previous version, that package should have a versioned dependency. These are only absent because nobody wants to manually change one word in the PKGBUILD when occasionally required. Relying on users to always sync the latest package set is not technical simplicity, it is just unapologetic laziness.

The whole "maintaining Arch is a badge of honor" mentality needs to die. We shouldn't have anything against manual intervention, but we shouldn't act like it's free cake either.

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#11 2014-05-01 20:15:16

Trilby
Forum Moderator
From: Massachusetts, USA
Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 14,000
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Re: Automatic upgrade

Xyne wrote:

Everyone else seems to be mischaracterizing this as his asking for a fully automatic handholding experience

I disagree.  You are now mischaracterizing our responses.  At least for me, my only issue with this thread was that it was asking for random musing about something that was simply not possible as illustrated in my comparison to holding ones breath.  Such musing serves no purpose.

You do go on to argue that such musing might not be pointless as the goal may actually be possible.  I disagree with this assessment, but that could be the grounds for a good discussion.  Starting a discussion with "Might it be possible for pacman to do X Y and Z" is very different from starting "I know X Y and Z are impossible, but what if they weren't ..."


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#12 2014-05-01 20:52:46

mrunion
Member
From: Jonesborough, TN
Registered: 2007-01-26
Posts: 1,593
Website

Re: Automatic upgrade

Wilhelm wrote:

I find it funny that inferior Windows has automatic updates, which do not mess your computer.....

Want the phone number to the Tech Support Business here locally that has to "fix" Windows' "automatic updates, which do not mess your computer" every weekend? There is a reason that these updates are set to run Friday night when the offices close. After updates, rebooting is required most (all?) of the time. At least 15% of the time, there is a problem with the update that broke something with the (admittedly not too good) EMR (Electronic Medical Records) software the offices run.

Wilhelm wrote:

Probably some other distribution should be made on top of the wonderful Arch linux to provide a decent alternative for normal people.

Why not just Use Mint or Ubuntu or something? It is the option(s) for manual intervention (read: choice) that makes Arch Linux what it is.


Matt

"It is very difficult to educate the educated."

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#13 2014-05-01 20:59:03

Xyne
Moderator/TU
Registered: 2008-08-03
Posts: 5,695
Website

Re: Automatic upgrade

The mischaracterization is "What would you think if our bodies didn't need oxygen?". In my opinion, he's asking "What if we had a breathing apparatus, or at least a snorkel so we could keep our heads underwater?".

Wilhelm wrote:

What do you think if pacman knew if some upgrade had manual steps and wouldn't upgrade that package if specified so?

"I know X Y and Z are impossible, but what if they weren't ..." is the question that precedes  "Might it be possible for pacman to do X Y and Z", and my interpretation of the above quote is that it leads naturaly to the latter.

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#14 2014-05-01 21:09:47

jasonwryan
Forum & Wiki Admin
From: .nz
Registered: 2009-05-09
Posts: 19,046
Website

Re: Automatic upgrade

Xyne wrote:

Everyone else seems to be mischaracterizing this as his asking for a fully automatic handholding experience, which it isn't. By responding this way, you are perpetuating the view of Archers are elitist and impractical for the sake of it.

There is no suggestion of elitism or impracticality in my response (I don't pretend to speak for others). Nor do I infer that this is about handholding: automation is not a pejorative term, therefore it is not an elitist postion. My point is that, in choosing Arch, you elect to take responsibility for your system and that is antithetical to automatic upgrades.


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#15 2014-05-01 21:32:54

Wilhelm
Member
Registered: 2012-12-06
Posts: 37

Re: Automatic upgrade

What kind of a person would enable automatic updates for critical units? I wouldn't.
However, for casual everyday non-critical use, it's a good option to have.

As noted, there's some misunderstanding in this thread.

There could be a variable in a package install script, which would define manual steps or instructions. In addition there could be a flagging mechanism from the users side. When either present automatic upgrading would skip the packages and everything that depends on it. Only those packages that are not flagged nor have any manual instruction would proceed to upgrade.

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#16 2014-05-01 22:26:10

karol
Archivist
Registered: 2009-05-06
Posts: 25,430

Re: Automatic upgrade

Isn't it easier and safer to update the whole system, like we've been doing the whole time? Partial updates are not supported.
My system is pretty lean, but I don't recall many non-bootable moments and I'm using [testing].

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#17 2014-05-04 11:44:02

Sanne
Member
Registered: 2012-03-13
Posts: 86

Re: Automatic upgrade

As I see and have experienced it, the problem with more automatism for a bit more convenience is: it might work most of the time pretty nicely, but when it doesn't, the user has to fight against additional layers of complexity. IMO Arch has a pretty good balance of automatism/convenience and required manual maintainance.

Also, this would be an additional burden for the developers and maintainers which takes away from their time maintaining packages. I guess making such a functionality work well for a rolling distro would be a huge amount of work. It works okish for non-rolling distros like Ubuntu and friends, but even they have problems occasionally with updates.

For me Arch has been a very trusty companion so far (~ 2 years), which still amazes me considering its rolling nature. I believe this is partly due to the fact that we don't have many automatisms so the developers can concentrate on making everything work, and we users just put in our part of the work, meaning being willing to pay a bit of attention to our systems. I'm ok with that.

Last edited by Sanne (2014-05-04 11:46:11)


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#18 2014-05-04 12:50:41

Wilhelm
Member
Registered: 2012-12-06
Posts: 37

Re: Automatic upgrade

Sanne wrote:

As I see and have experienced it, the problem with more automatism for a bit more convenience is: it might work most of the time pretty nicely, but when it doesn't, the user has to fight against additional layers of complexity. IMO Arch has a pretty good balance of automatism/convenience and required manual maintainance.

Also, this would be an additional burden for the developers and maintainers which takes away from their time maintaining packages. I guess making such a functionality work well for a rolling distro would be a huge amount of work. It works okish for non-rolling distros like Ubuntu and friends, but even they have problems occasionally with updates.

For me Arch has been a very trusty companion so far (~ 2 years), which still amazes me considering its rolling nature. I believe this is partly due to the fact that we don't have many automatisms so the developers can concentrate on making everything work, and we users just put in our part of the work, meaning being willing to pay a bit of attention to our systems. I'm ok with that.

I've been using Arch linux since 2009. It really is amazing.
This was not meant to be a feature request, but a discussion.
Maybe we will get at least partially automatic updating by the year 2300.

P.S. I'm wondering is everyone else using Arch for servers?
I'm using it on my home computer and thinking of installing Arch linux on my parents' computers.
Seems like their computers will never be up to date. Unless I happen to visit them.

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#19 2014-05-04 13:38:08

Daerandin
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2013-05-07
Posts: 148

Re: Automatic upgrade

I would strongly suggest a distro that requires less maintenance, unless your parents are interested in spending time maintaining Arch. Besides, I do not think you are doing anyone a favor by installing Arch for them.

The automation you speak of could be implemented to some degree. I do think you would still need to either check for warnings or errors in pacman output, and such things would need to be handled manually. After all, pacman is developed with manual operation in mind. In many ways you can compare it to AUR helpers, they can be helpful as long as you understand how to do it manually and are able to fix problems that may arise from the use of such tools.

As for picking a distro for your parents. If they are like my mother, only interested in having a computer that is easy to use, looks good and does not require maintenance, then Mint should be a good choice. My mother loves it and even finds it easier to use than Windows 7 that she had previously.

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#20 2014-05-04 15:41:09

ewaller
Administrator
From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 13,136

Re: Automatic upgrade

For support of parents, I highly recommend configuring their router to allow you ssh / vnc into their boxes.


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#21 2014-05-05 14:59:28

mrunion
Member
From: Jonesborough, TN
Registered: 2007-01-26
Posts: 1,593
Website

Re: Automatic upgrade

Myself = Arch Linux.
My kids, parents, etc. = Linux Mint.

I do this because I use my machine every day -- and update every day or two at least. They never update their machines. I don;t want to make the rounds event weekly to do updates to their machines.

And FWIW, I prefer the updates just the way they are. I'll read the forums, check the news pages, etc., then run an update and handle any problems myself. That's just my $0.02. (And yes, this is my daily, non-server machine.)


Matt

"It is very difficult to educate the educated."

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#22 2014-05-07 11:21:01

DaveCode
Member
Registered: 2008-08-15
Posts: 103

Re: Automatic upgrade

Wilhelm I run full-auto updates. My rigs need almost no maintenance. The scripts have run solidly for a year. They're short. You may invoke by systemd timer and/or manually.

Basic deps are

core/bash
core/coreutils
core/systemd
core/pacman
aur/pacaur
community/at

If I put my files on github, would you maintain an AUR package for them? I would be motivated by the prospect of help and testing. We'd likely wait for AUR 3 final, it being close.

Some pacnew merging is needless no matter how you upgrade Arch. The "uncomment" config method I bypass where possible. Two files get regular .pacnew replacements from Arch, but my versions remain static:

# cat /etc/locale.gen

en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8  
en_US ISO-8859-1  

# cat /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

Server = http://mirrors.kernel.org/archlinux/$repo/os/$arch

These brief files are easy to read and edit. Pacnew versions hit as they please. I leave them as reference tomes but otherwise never touch them.

For mandatory merging I use extra/meld, a lovely visual tool. You may prefer etckeeper or etc-update or similar.

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#23 2014-05-07 11:51:37

Wilhelm
Member
Registered: 2012-12-06
Posts: 37

Re: Automatic upgrade

I can maintain an aur package if needed.

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#24 2014-05-07 12:51:18

tomk
Forum Fellow
From: Ireland
Registered: 2004-07-21
Posts: 9,838

Re: Automatic upgrade

DaveCode wrote:

The scripts have run solidly for a year.

Can we have a look at these scripts, or are they classified?

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#25 2014-05-20 08:19:31

DaveCode
Member
Registered: 2008-08-15
Posts: 103

Re: Automatic upgrade

Wilhelm wrote:

I can maintain an aur package if needed.

OK Wilhelm let's do it. With you on PKGBUILD and AUR comments, I'll be free to work on scripts and git. Let's target AUR 3 final. It's now at RC2 according to the footer. I can do a first-cut PKGBUILD or at least pseudo-code for you. Post your e-mail address here.

Give me a few weeks for github. I'll start a new forum thread to announce, and link that from this. This discussion is general.

tomk wrote:

Can we have a look at these scripts, or are they classified?

Appreciate the interest. They are not. I offered to open source. Arch forums are something else altogether. Reading the debates above reminds me why I now limit my forum activity on bright ideas for Arch, such as one needlessly dustbinned after much explanatory effort. If you'd like to take point on development work, however, let me know.

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