I can't find a thread or tutorial that clearly answers my question so maybe someone kind will help if I ask it here.
I'm a relative Linux noob (I know what console is, I can use google and/or RTFM if easy, and I've used KDE and like it). I have a huge worry about updates and it's all that's holding me back. Even if I don't update every release, eventually one will come out with compelling changes that make a real difference and I will want to update to it. At that time, I'll have a bunch of installed apps, perhaps system stuff that I downloaded at odd times to fix some issue or whatever, and a load of KDE, system and application settings. So before I get myself in a corner, or commit to using Mint unwisely, I should check how people who aren't Linux "geeks" but are serious users, can upgrade their main desktop system.
Most threads are pretty unhelpful. The update advice is usually either:
- Don't update (becomes impractical/stultifying long term ~ 3-5 years, unlikely in longer run, if compelling features arive)
- Reinstall (good luck trying to recreate what you customised on it; every cache or application data in use so apps resume correctly on the new version, your system or .rc or app settings that matter, your dozens of IU choices and installed software you need to reinstate your system somewhat similar to how it was, and working as it did)
- Do an update via apt which might work, but could have subtle serious issues you can't figure, or be less stable, and breaks it outright 20% of the time according to some threads (the fixes are said to be often easy if you know what you're doing, but that sounds a doubtfully safe assumption)
- Find some kind of system-wide backup/restore that doesn't just back up applications, but tries to identify how the system is set up (or has tracked relevant changes during the system's lifetime), and tries to intelligently backup apps, data and settings systemwide, then reinstate them onto the new clean install.
As a serious desktop user, who also isn't Linux l33t, I need to have some clue how I'll update when I need to, to use Mint, and that I have a good chance of succeeding. The described state of update handling has me concerned. Yes you'll need some level of skill and "hands dirty" for any kind of Linux, and I'm fine with that, but this seems like far more - an open ended requirement to have serious coding and system skills, as a prerequisite for any inevitable update, or else redo it from scratch.
So... is Linux Mint as a long-term proposition suited only to casual users who will just reinstall and set up again, users who won't keep a setup long term, and coders with sysadmin skills? Is there any package for handling the transition around updates that restores settings and apps and system changes "quite well"? I'd like to try Mint more, but this part is daunting and I'm apprehensive of the inevitable future.
Without a clear path to update, serious use feels a bit like investing time and resources into a car without thinking whether, if parts need updating in a year or so, you'll be able to take it to the auto shop or some other "it just works", or you'll have to teach yourself a multi-year workshop course to take the engine apart and service it yourself.
I'd really love some more positive knowledge to offset my ignorant concerns please/thank you!