When I read in the forum about other peoples tales of woe with LMDE I never cease to be amazed at how good it has been for me. The instabilities that others have experienced with it have even led the Mint developers to instigate the 'Pack' update system, no doubt involving a great deal of effort. The tremendous downside of this - to me - is that updates only appear about once a month and then in large quantities. The theory is that these 'packs' will have been thoroughly tested to work together before being released - I hope that is what happens, although it has always been my experience that the more updates you install at any one time the more likely you are to run into trouble and that is just what this system is supposed to protect against.
But that is not my only objection to this system, another is the bandwidth factor. Several months a year I only have access to mobile broadband. As with most such contracts this is restricted to so many Gb/month. If my updates are spread evenly over the course of a month there is a chance I can get through an entire month without eating into 'out of bundle' charges which would make Bill Gates' eyes water! Installing several hundred Mb at one time would probably mean I have to stop using the internet for the rest of the month. I am aware that I would usually end up downloading about the same amount of updates but it is the timing in relation to the start/end of my billing period that is the factor here not the amount of data. Put simply if I download on a regular basis one 'packs' worth of updates can be spread over two billing periods, if I download the 'pack' itself this can never be the case, it must always be in a single billing period, potentially leaving me not much left for the rest of the period or a large bill.
But even that is not my main objection to this system. Updates are FUN I am realistic enough to know that they very rarely make any difference to anything, but I still enjoy my update fix every morning. It is like having a little birthday present every day of the year, and I get 365 those, sometimes more, with 'packs' I would only get 12. OK so I am an old fool - but I bet a lot of you feel the same way. It breaks my heart to say it because I love LMDE, but if the 'pack' system were the only update system in this distro I would uninstall it and use something else instead. So what can be done about it, is there a way to integrate the 'pack' system with the 'fun' element and not have massive downloads at inconvenient times every month? Possibly, and that is the main point of this thread - to offer my suggestion as to how that might be achieved.
It has been my experience that the majority of the problems that occur with LMDE happen when something is removed that shouldn't have been. So how to stop that happening? Well apt has had tools to do that since it was first invented it is called variously 'Upgrade' (apt-get) 'Safe Upgrade' (aptitude) 'Default Upgrade' (synaptic) or in Mintupdate it is not named at all (probably the best way!) but just enabled by unticking a box. For the purpose of this post I will call it a 'Safe Upgrade' because this is an easily understood English phrase and for the cautious amongst us it is a description that they would tend to be drawn to anyway.
For those of you who don't know the meaning of 'Safe Upgrade' here is the definition from the apt-get man page:
upgrade is used to install the newest versions of all packages
currently installed on the system from the sources enumerated in
/etc/apt/sources.list. Packages currently installed with new
versions available are retrieved and upgraded; under no
circumstances are currently installed packages removed, or packages
not already installed retrieved and installed. New versions of
currently installed packages that cannot be upgraded without
changing the install status of another package will be left at
their current version.
So if 'Safe-Upgrade' is adopted as the standard upgrade type for the 'cautious' user, a large proportion of updates will be carried out on a daily basis which is highly desirable for the reasons given above, but the troublesome 'removal' ones will not be carried out at all. The purpose of the update packs would then be to package these removal type upgrades into a 'pack' that deals with them in one go. This makes sense because on 99% of occasions the type of package upgrade that causes 'removals' are usually solved by waiting for additional dependencies to be updated anyway so the delayed release of these is a benefit not a hindrance.
So is that suggestion a soaring eagle or a fish without fins?