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#1 2013-03-02 17:17:02

RacerX
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Registered: 2013-02-28
Posts: 4

[ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

So according to what I've read, Arch uses a rolling release model for updating/upgrading the distribution. On various forums I've noticed the odd comment about how things "break" occasionally after an update, so that concerns me a bit.

I'd like to hear from experienced Archers on your best practice for upgrading your system, particularly--do you update with pacman daily? Weekly? Do you check a watch list of reported bugs/concerns before initiating an update? Answers to questions like these will give me an experienced perspective on how to approach these issues.

Thanks,
Racer X

Last edited by RacerX (2013-03-02 23:01:35)


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#2 2013-03-02 17:22:52

graysky
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Re: [ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

Update whenever via `pacman -Syu` - the frequency doesn't matter so long as you don't let it go for too long.  At a minimum, read the news feed; dev team is very good, no need to follow dev mailing lists or the like in my opinion.


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#3 2013-03-02 17:50:41

ozar
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From: USA
Registered: 2005-02-18
Posts: 1,681

Re: [ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

- be sure to watch front page news for important info
- update at least once weekly, more is better
- watch screen for any special instructions
- learn to handle .pacnew files, etc


oz

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#4 2013-03-02 18:03:58

Xyne
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Registered: 2008-08-03
Posts: 5,695
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Re: [ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

What you should do

  • read the front page news before every upgrade

  • wait a few days for critical packages to see if any bugs are reported on the bug tracker or forum

  • read everything in the pacman output to see if manual intervention is required and merge pacnew files right away

What I actually do

  • upgrade whenever new packages show up in paconky (exception: for critical packages, I check the front page news)

  • read everything in the pacman output to see if manual intervention is required

  • maybe deal with pacnew files

I have been using Arch for a few years now with a non-standard setup (LVM, encryption, pam_mount abuse, etc) and have only ended up with a non-bootable system 2 or 3 times (and at least one of those was my own fault for not doing my due diligence, and another was that I simply didn't know what commands were required in the recovery shell to proceed). There have been a few minor issues but major and minor alike are usually solved quickly (one of the strengths of the Arch community is general technical competence and a will to contribute). You can almost always downgrade while waiting for a fix (but it can be difficult to do for huge upgrades with loads of interdependencies).

My advice is to
1) upgrade regularly (pacman -Syu, never a partial upgrade) and stay on top of the front page news but...
2) don't upgrade in the middle of working on something important with an approaching deadline
3) keep a live CD or recovery partition around just in case

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#5 2013-03-02 18:18:22

tdy
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From: Sacremende
Registered: 2008-12-14
Posts: 438

Re: [ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

Xyne wrote:

2) don't upgrade in the middle of working on something important with an approaching deadline
3) keep a live CD or recovery partition around just in case

You'd think this would be common sense, but somehow this scenario comes up way more often than it should.

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#6 2013-03-02 18:58:12

blackout23
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Registered: 2011-11-16
Posts: 780

Re: [ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

From my experience Arch isn't any less stable than any other distro. I broke my system at the beginning a few times, because I was being a noob with no clue and was tinkering around. Most will blame it on the distro instead of themself. There was not one time where something broke and it wasn't my fault.

Maintaining Arch is easy:

1. If pacman complains. Go to archlinux.org and read the announcment it's most likely going to be covered there and is due to some major change which doesn't happen to often.  I only had to do 3 manual interventions in 1.5-2 years which required 1-2 commands. Never force something.
2. Update everything or nothing. I once picked out some of the available updates and only updated them because I was running on my mobile internet and wanted to save bandwidth. System didn't boot, because udev and  grep somehow had issues. Chrooted in from USB did full update. Fixed.

Still be prepared for the worst and learn how to rollback and downgrade this will help you fix things instead of doing a complete reinstall which might not have been necessary. With other distros people often simply do a complete reinstall instead of fixing the problem, because they don't understand their system well enough.

Last edited by blackout23 (2013-03-02 18:59:08)

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#7 2013-03-02 19:48:52

ewaller
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From: Pasadena, CA
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Re: [ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

...And never use the -force option in pacman unless you are told to by a developer, or unless you know exactly what you are doing.


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#8 2013-03-02 20:08:52

tdy
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From: Sacremende
Registered: 2008-12-14
Posts: 438

Re: [ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

Summarized @ https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php … 40#p435740

Misfit138 wrote:

What pacman is: Pacman is a very versatile package manager with a wide array of available switches to perform nearly every conceivable function of package management.

What pacman is not: Pacman is not an automatic system maintenance program. System maintenance is left to you, the power user. Pacman will not upgrade, modify, nor change system configuration files.
In short, Pacman will not automatically reconfigure your system for you. (This is a k.i.s.s. feature, not a flaw.)

Use the -f switch sparingly, if you know exactly what you are doing.
Forcing packages can potentially cause varying degrees of breakage. There are times when it is perfectly safe, and is even recommended, for a single package, (not for an entire system upgrade!) Check the Arch home page for Latest News, to see if an -f option is advised for a package upgrade issue. Remember that pacman -Syuf will force every available package upgrade, potentially creating system-wide breakage, and is therefore to be avoided.

Think before upgrading.
The power user must be prepared to set aside some time for attention to system upgrade. Arch is a bleeding-edge, rolling release, and it is designed to be used as such..However, keep in mind that system upgrade is an interactive process, sometimes requiring user intervention, which leads us to the next point,

Read before upgrading.
Check the front page Arch news, Announcement lists, and optionally the forum and Mailing Lists, before hitting enter. Bookmark them. The Arch devs and community are quite vigilant about providing information and possible known issues during an upcoming upgrade. Take advantage of these resources.

Read pacman's output while upgrading.
The devs have placed pertinent information in the package install output for a reason. The 'fire and forget' mentality may be ok for some users, but if you are still learning the ropes, it is safest to pay more than the usual attention to pacman's output.

Most importantly...
Using these guidelines will prepare you for more seamless upgrades in the future.
The more often you perform upgrades, the faster you will become accustomed to them, and the general process of Arch system maintenance. Arch does not require an unbalanced amount of 'work' to keep it running, merely an eye for details that will be acquired by good upgrading practices.

We must walk before we can run. Therefore, get familiar with pacman (read the man page), system upgrade and maintenance from a 'bottom-to-top' approach as opposed to a 'top-down' approach.

Enjoy, and welcome to Arch.

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#9 2013-03-02 20:22:09

the sad clown
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From: 192.168.0.X
Registered: 2011-03-20
Posts: 833

Re: [ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

I usually watch the feeds from packages, news, and the forum.  As for when I update, I'm probably a little too quick, as I usually update whenever I see an updated package I'm interested in.  I also follow the mailing lists, but this has more to do with being interested in the direction Arch is going than a necessity for properly maintaining my install.


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#10 2013-03-02 21:04:37

thesystematic
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Registered: 2013-02-08
Posts: 44

Re: [ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

Read https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Pacman and the related articles, and this https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/En … _Stability.

Subscribe to Arch news, or use pacmatic or something like that.

I agree with the other guys - Arch isn't inherently unstable and I've had very few problems. In fact, I find Arch generally more stable because upgrades are accompanied by very clear instructions on manual action (most of the time) you just need to watch the pacman output or the logs. Personally, I probably run 'yaourt -Syu' habitually when I'm bored (at least twice a day) and I have had problems with broken packages maybe once (which I merely downgraded and everything worked again).

EDIT: Also, deal with pacnew files right away. I find yaourt -C useful to find and deal with them.

Last edited by thesystematic (2013-03-02 21:06:53)

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#11 2013-03-02 23:01:15

RacerX
Member
Registered: 2013-02-28
Posts: 4

Re: [ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

Xyne wrote:

What you should do

[*]upgrade whenever new packages show up in paconky (exception: for critical packages, I check the front page news)[/*]

3) keep a live CD or recovery partition around just in case

Thanks, I've had zero exposure to "paconky" or "conky." It looks like a useful utility, and gives me something to read up on and explore. Recovery partition I'll need to research as well, I used the entire drive during install partitioning, with slices for /, /home, and swap as per the beginner's instructions. Hopefully *another* reinstall isn't in my forseeable furture.

blackout23 wrote:

Still be prepared for the worst and learn how to rollback and downgrade this will help you fix things instead of doing a complete reinstall which might not have been necessary.

Right, need to look those up ASAP. I had a challenging issue getting my wireless stick working, and used a live cd from another distro to hack into a config just so I could boot. I don't mind inventing creative solutions, but better safe than sorry has its merits.

sad clown wrote:

I also follow the mailing lists, but this has more to do with being interested in the direction Arch is going than a necessity for properly maintaining my install.

I'm with you. As a new user, sure I'm interested in peak performance from my system, avoiding issues, etc, but let's face it--Linux, at least in what I'm seeing so far, gets it's strength and staying power from its userbase. The community maintains the code. The users help each other maintain their individual systems, but also the supersystem--in this case, Arch Linux. There's not a payroll involved here (correct me if I'm wrong).

This, to me, is the main attraction. I put my previous windows-based operating system behind me as I wasn't satisfied with how much the developers cared about the individual and his/her needs.

Great responses here, folks. Thanks for taking a few minutes to answer my concerns.

This thread is solved.

Racer X


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#12 2013-03-03 07:57:11

Xyne
Moderator/TU
Registered: 2008-08-03
Posts: 5,695
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Re: [ solved ] Best practices for upgrading the distribution?

RacerX wrote:

Thanks, I've had zero exposure to "paconky" or "conky." It looks like a useful utility, and gives me something to read up on and explore. Recovery partition I'll need to research as well, I used the entire drive during install partitioning, with slices for /, /home, and swap as per the beginner's instructions. Hopefully *another* reinstall isn't in my forseeable furture.

Put the recovery partition on a second disk if you can. You can then use it to manage partitions without constraint on the main disk if ever needed. The second disk should be independently bootable too so that you can access it by switching boot order in BIOS if your boot manager ever gets corrupted.

If you don't have a second disk then you could use a USB drive.

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