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#1 2023-06-01 20:14:27

7000k
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Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

This post is about my way of getting the best out of both worlds by treating arch as a semi-rolling distro. Instead of updating very frequently. I'm posting it to:
- see if more people do it.
- tell newbies about it.
- start a discussion if its a good idea to do it and to perhaps discuss automating this process as a pacman feature?

So let's start with little background .

I've been using Linux for a long time, but I only started using Arch about a year ago. Previously I was quite happy with non-rolling distros like Redhat, Debian (later Ubuntu and back to Debian). But eventually I wanted to have certain software that was a pain to install, or came with lots of unwanted baggage, in my then favourite distros. So I moved to Arch a year ago and I never looked back.

Except, that I usually don't do updates that often (once every 2~6 weeks) and because of that I did end up few times in a situation where I absolutely needed some piece of software Now, and an install would brake because arch mirrors have moved on.

A recent example a while ago was when my last update was 23rd of April (this was late May) . I needed to install meld to GUI-compare some folders, but I couldn't get it to work because arch moved to python 3.10 while I had 3.8 and a proper update would require a 5GB download (I'm on an lte connection). And I had no time to fix it by hand.

Of course standard advice is to "update often", but depending on how you use your machine and the type of Internet access you have it may not be ideal, but one may still want to use arch. So what to do?

Arch archive retains each individual day of pacman mirrors. One just has to modify pacman.conf to point it to a specific day.

So what I do is:
- when I can run an update I do so normally
- once it finishes (usually next morning) I configure pacman to point to the archive of the previous day's date. I leave it like this until I can do another update.

This way I can pretty much guarantee I can install any standard software using pacman if I need to without having to update for as long as I need.

Then when I do have time to update I can point it at normal mirrors, do an update and set it to archive again.

I think this is a very good solution and it may mean I might put arch on some devices that are used sporadically. I never did that in the past, because I worried not being able to do updates for months might leave them unable to install software when they are needed after a long period of being unused.

I realise this is "wrong" and probably against the idea of arch, but I decided to start this thread to see what others think.

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#2 2023-06-01 20:37:59

Trilby
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Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

I don't think it's "wrong" and it is a perfectly sound approach if you accept it for what it is and remain aware of the risks.  Using a specific date from the archive is not at all comparable to using a stable-release based distro.  Stable distros do not release new versions of software until the whole distro is updated, but they do release important security patches as soon as they are available.  Arch's rolling model mixes both software updates and security patches into the same singular process; skipping the newest version updates is fine, but skipping out on security patches presents a non-trivial risk.  As long as you are aware of that point, go for it (also keep in mind the expectation to get support resolving any issue resulting from this is to update first).

Last edited by Trilby (2023-06-01 20:38:42)


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#3 2023-06-12 07:10:57

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Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

Thanks. I didn't consider that one can't get just security updates this way. I think that is definitely a disadvantage especially when one doesn't monitor latest security advisories and its possible to miss something major.

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#4 2023-06-12 08:14:28

polarrr
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Registered: 2004-09-12
Posts: 110

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

Is there any reason you don't update your system?

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#5 2023-06-12 09:03:41

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
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Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

OP is on a mobile connection, those rarely have unlimited traffic.

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#6 2023-06-12 14:27:57

polarrr
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Registered: 2004-09-12
Posts: 110

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

Oh I missed that entire paragraph somehow.

I feel like this is the case where Flatpak and the likes, or Windows do really well. Since I'm not patient enough, if I were in that situation, I'd just use those to get things done rather than trying to figure out how to turn Arch into something else.

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#7 2023-06-12 16:17:50

Trilby
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Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

I disagree.  The only concern with the proposed use is the lack of security updates.  But if the 700k is in fact able to do full updates every few weeks, this is not much of a concern.  Using the arch linux archive to maintain a system without updates for many months at a time could be a concern due to a lack of security patches, but weeks at a time should be just fine.

Obviously the more frequently you can update the better - but lets break this situation into two:

1) Forget about the archlinux archive for a moment.  If a user said they could only do full updates every 2-6 weeks, would there be any concern?  Not from me nor from other seasoned users I've seen comment on this variety of question.  Updating every few weeks is perfectly fine.

2) Using the arch linux archive to grab packages that match the installed system that may no longer be on the mirrors.  This too, on it's own, is perfectly fine and presents no problem whatsoever.

Combining these two points doesn't create any new concerns.  So while I did raise the point of not getting security patches, this is not at all related to using the archive for retrieving packages between updates but rather applies to any situation in which an archer is not updating on a daily/hourly/secondly basis: so in other words, just question #1.  So this whole thread really then simplifies to "is it (reasonably) safe to only update an arch system every 2-6 weeks?" to which my answer is a confident "yes (for a typical desktop-use system)".

I'll not mention how long I've let my public-facing server running arch go without updates (and thus without security patches).  It's far far longer than 2-6 weeks (not that I'm recommending this), and my "media center" pc gets updated less frequently than that.

Last edited by Trilby (2023-06-12 16:19:44)


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#8 2023-06-12 21:30:27

polarrr
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Registered: 2004-09-12
Posts: 110

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

I was talking more about an application working regardless of the system update. I wouldn't worry about security update not being applied immediately either, but if the concern is the limited bandwidth, I feel like Windows or Flatpak where applications are self contained and very little concern for dependencies, seem easier to me at least. Nothing to setup, nothing to configure, no dependencies to download. But like I said, if it were "my" situation. I used to enjoy configuring and troubleshooting, but I don't anymore. I just want things to work. In my case, Arch simply works, but if I need things get done and something takes more than 2 minutes to figure out how to get it working, look up Wiki or edit config, that's a distraction for me. It's fine if it's on weekend and I'm in a mood, but not when I need to get things done. Windows and Flatpaks (albeit I haven't needed to use them thus far) takes very little brain power and effort, at least in my case, it's easier to get it up and running if I ever need it.

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#9 2023-06-12 21:48:59

icar
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From: Catalunya
Registered: 2020-07-31
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Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

You still need to update Flatpak apps and runtimes. Also, if you use a Flatpak app that's not sandboxed, there is little gain over AUR.

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#10 2023-06-12 21:54:24

seth
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Registered: 2012-09-03
Posts: 52,428

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

"Because of infrastructure problems leading to questions about a rolling release linux I'm now using windows" is some weird ass logic and "Flatpak […]  applications are self contained" lacks a "theoretically"…

Windows and Flatpaks (albeit I haven't needed to use them thus far) takes very little brain power and effort, at least in my case

Unicorns (albeit I haven't needed to use them thus far) are far better than horses, because they don't eat, shit and cost no money - at least in my fantasy.

The OP wrote:

I usually don't do updates that often (once every 2~6 weeks)

Looking at my pacman log, you're gonna be fine wink

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#11 2023-06-12 22:12:05

Trilby
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Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

polarrr wrote:

if the concern is the limited bandwidth, I feel like Windows or Flatpak where applications are self contained and very little concern for dependencies, seem easier to me at least.

seem?  Aside from all the other issues with flatpak (including security issues which we're now ignoring) they will most definitely not reduce bandwidth use for downloading / installing.  Quite the opposite.  The only way a flatpak would avoid requiring the update of some system libraries is because it bundles it's own version of each library.  So you've avoided downloading an updated version of library/dependency with downloading another copy of some old and outdated version of that library/dependency ... worse yet, each flatpak gets yet-another-copy: more bandwidth used, to maintain older libraries, with more security issues.  That's not even a trade-off, it's just a total loss on every relevant criteria.

EDIT: I think that should be the tagline for flatpak: "accept no trade-offs, rather total loss".

Last edited by Trilby (2023-06-13 00:43:54)


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#12 2023-06-12 22:41:01

polarrr
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Registered: 2004-09-12
Posts: 110

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

seth wrote:

"Because of infrastructure problems leading to questions about a rolling release linux I'm now using windows" is some weird ass logic and "Flatpak […]  applications are self contained" lacks a "theoretically"…

Windows and Flatpaks (albeit I haven't needed to use them thus far) takes very little brain power and effort, at least in my case

Unicorns (albeit I haven't needed to use them thus far) are far better than horses, because they don't eat, shit and cost no money - at least in my fantasy.

Calm down, bud. It takes so little for you to go title at windmills.

I guess I muddied the thread a bit. I was merely referring to my earlier comment and subsequent response to it. And I specifically said "I" don't have patience to figure things out when I have things I need to get done. It's all just tools for me. I don't really care what I use. I just happened to use Arch. Saying "I'd use Windows if I can't be bothered to figure things out" may not have been the best response to the original post, sure.

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#13 2023-06-12 22:57:48

seth
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Registered: 2012-09-03
Posts: 52,428

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

You might have gotten under the impression that this was an idiological argue, but that's not the case.
I merely question your premises and logic.

It's perfectly fine to use and suggest whatever tool gets the job done, but, as you noted, suggesting windows doesn't really fit the general direction of the OPs inquiry and your fantasies about the salvation through flatpak are mostly that: fantasies. You'll figure if and when you make extensive use of it tongue

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#14 2023-06-13 13:35:28

squarewave
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Registered: 2023-06-13
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Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

Hello OP,

I also use the archive to decouple installing software from updating the system. This shifts the point of possible breakage to a time where it won't catch me on the wrong foot.

Usually I update on Friday after work is done. I don't switch mirrors but just set the archive url to the previous day.

One thing I noticed is that the European mirror sometimes is slow, whereas archive.archlinux.org is reliably fast.

Also thought about sharing this, as it is a way to have your rolling release cake and eat it, too.

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#15 2023-06-29 07:04:05

7000k
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Registered: 2022-09-29
Posts: 16

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

squarewave wrote:

Hello OP,

I also use the archive to decouple installing software from updating the system. This shifts the point of possible breakage to a time where it won't catch me on the wrong foot.

Usually I update on Friday after work is done. I don't switch mirrors but just set the archive url to the previous day.

One thing I noticed is that the European mirror sometimes is slow, whereas archive.archlinux.org is reliably fast.

Also thought about sharing this, as it is a way to have your rolling release cake and eat it, too.

Thanks for sharing. Setting it to the previous day it sure is interesting. However I noticed my mirrors (t-mobile Poland) are much faster than the archive. I'm ok to download one piece of software and dependencies, but if I had to do a full ~1GB update that would be much slower.

I tend to update when I remember and I have some extra time (sometimes every week, sometimes it can be a month). To answer why I don't just update nomrally is first as another poster kindly replied I'm on a mobile connection (LTE), but the issue is more the time it takes to run the update than the data itself(my connection speed varies between 1Mb to 20Mb - that's a small b BTW). Also the small possibility of breakage in the worst possible time. BTW, I'm already using timeshift for my root partition and btrfs so I have a recovery method  in the unlikely event things go very wrong.

I wondered few times if a rolling release is the correct solution for my main workstation PC I use for actual work. Woudn't a non-rolling release with just security updates make more sense? I thought maybe it would until I remembered why I moved to arch in the first place. New software, especially gnome.

Then there is flatpak, some see it as a sort of middle ground. Have your apps rolling and your OS pretty static. Flatpak is great, but it still misses some crucial things. For example today I found out a flatpak version of ungoogled chromium (any browser really) will not work with password managers (running natively or in flatpak). A password manager IMHO is crucial functionality for today's desktop so perhaps it will be fixed soon.

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#16 2023-07-05 23:30:53

lilikoi
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Registered: 2022-02-01
Posts: 23

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

I have got the following in my mirror list:

## Arch Linux Archives
#download rates are higher for the current day repo than for other days repos
#ALA fallback server +1day which should work
Server = https://archive.archlinux.org/repos/2023/06/01/$repo/os/$arch
Server = https://archive.archlinux.org/repos/2023/06/02/$repo/os/$arch

#Archive servers#
#https://{europe,asia,america}.archive.pkgbuild.com

What I learnt over the years is that Arch ISO is usually released on the 1st of each month, and that syncing with the repo the day the ISO is built (or the monthly repo, for that matter), we may rest assured it is more likely buggy updates will not arrive.

Also, whenever I sync the system, I also sync AUR & pip/etc pkgs...

Last edited by lilikoi (2023-07-05 23:31:59)

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#17 2023-07-06 02:04:21

Scimmia
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Posts: 11,660

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

lilikoi wrote:

What I learnt over the years is that Arch ISO is usually released on the 1st of each month, and that syncing with the repo the day the ISO is built (or the monthly repo, for that matter), we may rest assured it is more likely buggy updates will not arrive.

Completely and totally false. Yes, the ISO is generally built on the 1st of each month, but that has nothing at all to do with bugs or stability. It's no different than any other day.

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#18 2023-07-06 02:16:10

lilikoi
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Registered: 2022-02-01
Posts: 23

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

Scimmia wrote:

Completely and totally false. [...]

NOT false, though. By personal experience syncing with the Arch ISO equivalent archives repo is much more guaranteed to not have bad packages!

Indeed, when a very important package is not stable enough for the Arch ISO , the ISO is delayed and is released only after all packages are ironed out.

It would not be very logic to have devs do otherwise. New experimental updates happen in the middle of the month, so to have all bugs corrected by when Arch ships a new installer.

Maybe you don't notice this cadence, but so it happens.

Last edited by lilikoi (2023-07-06 02:16:41)

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#19 2023-07-06 02:22:16

Scimmia
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Registered: 2012-09-01
Posts: 11,660

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

There has been once or twice that an ISO has been delayed because of an issue. There is no guarantee that it doesn't have bad packages, there is no timing that 'experimental' updates happen in the middle of the month, there is no time that 'all packages are ironed out'. This is not how Arch works, at all.

Last edited by Scimmia (2023-07-06 02:22:42)

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#20 2023-07-06 02:24:23

Trilby
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Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

lilikoi wrote:

By personal experience...

I dont doubt this has been your perception of your own first hand experience.  But how extensive has your testing been?  Exactly how many times have you tried varying the date used in these tests?  How many parallel machines have you run to do side-by-side comparisons with different days of the month as the archive date used?  Just one?

lilikoi wrote:

... is much more guaranteed

It's certainly not guaranteed.  I have no idea what it would even mean for something to be "much more" guaranteed - unless that's to suggest a "regular" guarantee actually is not at all guaranteed.  Do you work on verizon's marking by chance?  Did you come up with the tiered plans of "unlimited", "actually unlimited", and "no really, we aren't shitting you this time, this plan *is* unlimted"?

lilikoi wrote:

when a very important package is not stable enough for the Arch ISO , the ISO is delayed

Please provide a source / reference for this.  This is not a policy.

lilikoi wrote:

New experimental updates happen in the middle of the month

HA! No.  Now that's total horse shit.

lilikoi wrote:

Maybe you don't notice this cadence, but so it happens.

Like we didn't notice the earth is flat and reptile aliens have take on the major world governments.

Yes, I'm now ridiculing ... as this is ridiculous.

Last edited by Trilby (2023-07-06 02:25:08)


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#21 2023-07-06 05:22:12

seth
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Registered: 2012-09-03
Posts: 52,428

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

lilikoi wrote:

What I learnt over the years is…

… called a self report study with a sample size of one.
The rock-hard evidence used to burn witches.

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#22 2023-07-06 10:41:45

lilikoi
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Registered: 2022-02-01
Posts: 23

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

that was not a scientific experiment, come on.. annoying..

i did check the last 150 update warnings and they seem evenly distributed throughout the month days, however I did not run statistics analysis..

which is really weird, but whatever, maybe that is really just random. which would be even more impressive...

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#23 2023-07-06 13:56:49

seth
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Registered: 2012-09-03
Posts: 52,428

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

I'm pretty sure that everyone else here understood that your notion was based on little more than superstition, only you seem to have insisted on your notion being factual.
There's also nothing impressive about it. I update my systems by random chance - whenever I feel like (which is not often enough…) and basically never saw any problem w/ any update.
If I now apply a random weirdo conditon to the update, eg. the lunar phase, my experience is unlikely to change and I will infer that the absolutely bestmostsafe time to update archlinux is on a new moon night.
Which is bullshit, but my bullshit test has just proven it. Because it's bullshit.

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#24 2023-07-06 14:42:51

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 6,334

Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

lilikoi wrote:

By personal experience syncing with the Arch ISO equivalent archives repo is much more guaranteed to not have bad packages!

Bad packages? What bad packages? If you're getting bad packages of any kind, I'd consider a change of mirror.

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#25 2023-07-06 15:03:19

Trilby
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Registered: 2011-11-29
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Re: Using Arch as a semi-rolling release with the help of Archive.

Arch Linux: the much more guaranteed to be bestmostsafe linux distro ... if you update on the first of the month only.


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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