Update Packs - An Alternative?

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Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby viking777 on Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:30 am

Introduction - No need to read this part if you are in a hurry, skip to 'Suggestion'.

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 :D 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.

Suggestion.

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? :)
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby SimonTS on Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:29 am

Hi Viking,

When I saw your post in the other thread in which you said about "...I will start a new one and get it rubbished there instead." I wondered what wacky concept you would come up with :shock:

The fact of the matter is that you are trying to address an issue that, I also believe, needs to be looked at. I have an unlimited, high-speed, broadband Internet connection, but I don't like downloading many updates at one time. Even on the Ubuntu-based versions of Mint I have been known to split the updates into smaller sections which I feel suit me better if they bork my system and I need to trouble-shoot / regress any issues.

On LMDE this seems to be an even bigger potential problem and there is, to my way of thinking, a really simple way of doing it (from the end-user point of view), but it may not be so easy for the mint team to implement. Bear with me as part of this will be obvious to most people, but I am on a train of thought and I don't want to get off. At the moment we have a lovely piece of software called "Mint Updater" sat in our task-bars which allows us to decide which packages (from level 1 to level 5) we wish to be notified of and to install. The default setting is to notify levels 1, 2 and 3 (the 'safer' packages) and not notify levels 4 and 5.
Why can we not have a 'Level 0' added to that list? It could be used to notify of the monthly update packs which are ideal for newbies / the less technically-minded. The default setting for Mint Update could be level 0 only - that way a newcomer would install from the ISO image and on first boot would be notified by Mint Update of the latest update pack for their system so they could install it and be as up-to-date as the Mint team feel is safe. Meanwhile, those of us who like more frequent, rolling, updates, who want to help test the latest additions to the repos, or who are just sadistic sods can modify our Mint Update to give us level 1, 2 and 3 as per normal in the knowledge that we will get all the updates as they arrive. The other plus side is that once a month there will still be an update pack sat there in Mint Update for us, which we can safely accept, knowing that it will, at the most, contain the last couple of updates which, for whatever reason, didn't make it to the repos before the team were ready to release the monthly update to the world.

OK, now shoot me down in flames with all the reasons why this could not possibly work - I'm big enough and ugly enough to deal with it :mrgreen:
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby zerozero on Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:34 am

ok, i'm in for the brainstorm, but not now (very short of time) i will come back later this night.
in the meantime i tried to address some of these issues here viewtopic.php?f=187&t=76854
cya later
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby grizzler on Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:32 am

SimonTS wrote:At the moment we have a lovely piece of software called "Mint Updater" sat in our task-bars which allows us to decide which packages (from level 1 to level 5) we wish to be notified of and to install.

You do? You mean you never updated your Update Manager? The current version for LMDE doesn't use levels.

I also think there are just too many updates in the packs. I know Clem suggested the monthly frequency wasn't set in stone (actually, he wrote that in the thread zerozero mentioned), but for now it doesn't look like it's going to change a lot. I'm considering switching back to Testing.

I'm not sure how your level system would fit in the Testing/Incoming/Latest structure, but essentially level 0 already exists: it's the Latest repo.
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby Roken on Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:04 am

Dunno if it helps, or even if it will address your specific needs, but I've simply changed to make debian repositories a higher priority, so I continue to get the updates (pretty much daily) with the fun and risk that it brings.
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby viking777 on Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:18 am

zerozero wrote:ok, i'm in for the brainstorm, but not now (very short of time) i will come back later this night.
in the meantime i tried to address some of these issues here viewtopic.php?f=187&t=76854
cya later


I thought I had got myself up to date around here recently, but obviously not as I have never seen that thread before now, so thanks for the link, obviously I am not the only one thinking along these lines.
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby SimonTS on Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:58 am

There you go - I haven't seen the new Mint Update (without levels) in LMDE as I uninstalled LMDE to revert to Mint 9 as my principle system for the time being. Retrying LMDE was going to be my fun task for this weekend just so I could get some practice on Debian ready for the new respin when it comes out.

I did say I was quite ready to be shot down in flames - but I think that the whole Testing / Stable / Incoming / ... thing is just so confusing for a newbie that there needs to be a simple way of getting them to the update packs that Clem has discussed while allowing others to test new packages as they come along on a daily basis.

I'm going to have a read of the thread that ZeroZero posted as well - had missed that myself.
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby grizzler on Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:18 pm

Yes, you do need to know your way around sources.list, but if the default provided by the iso is Latest, a newbie would automatically be on 'level 0'. Anyone wanting to use Testing or Incoming, can't be considered a newbie. Even the Update Manager says so (if you use Incoming and check your Update Pack Info, it says 'This is only recommended for experienced users').

However, it would be nice to be able to switch without having to edit a file.
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby SimonTS on Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:24 pm

And if the 'Latest' repository runs the monthly pack updates and the 'Incoming' runs more frequent updates as packages are ready to be tested by the community then that is fine, but that is not my understanding of what Clem proposes. My take on it is that all the Mint repos will switch to a monthly update - maybe with the Latest being behind Incoming.
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby grizzler on Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:41 pm

Actually, I thought his fourth reply in this post: viewtopic.php?f=187&t=76854#p451097 suggested that he wasn't opposed to the idea of more frequent updates.
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby Gerd50 on Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:19 pm

First, for me with my damn slow connection it makes no sense using the 'incoming' or 'latest' repos. If there are, let me say,
more than about 150 Mb to download, it takes too much time. For now i'll stay pointing to the 'testing' repos. Fun factor included :)

Second, there was a discussion in the breakage thread about it might be weird for newcomer with the different possibilities
of the sources.list. I wrote a LMDE FAQ for our german forum thinking about that. I decided to introduce the possibilities with
complete sources lists to copy. Each one with an explanation for what it's good and how to use it.

http://www.linuxmintusers.de/index.php? ... 2Fstrong.3

Please take a look at point 5 'Die sources.list in der Praxis' (sources.list in practice) If you find it useful i can try to write it
for our english forums as a tutorial. But surely would need some help with the explanations, because my english as you can see is
only an improvisation :lol:
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby zerozero on Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:03 pm

ok, so my take on this, and after that other thread:

- the new iso's will default to latest, so most of the new users will never be faced with this problem: they will have a trouble-free system (or so we hope), and now and then they will get some updates, smooth as silk, and the system will roll on and on (ok, this is the plan, or the dream, whatever :lol: )

- now the issues with this reasoning:

1- latest will only be that trouble-free stage, if
a) incoming is properly tested;
b) you can keep an active community behind incoming;
c) if all the testers (us) run to testing, incoming is empty and the update packs will be done blindly;

2- the large amount of updates to test:
a) specially during this period (while testing is running at full speed) freeze the repo for about a month means hundreds of updates each pack;
b) the troubleshooting becomes harder, sometimes impossible;
c) most of the times we can save bandwidth (testing can update same pkg several times during the freeze, we will only update from the oldest to the newest);

3- in the end, and this imho, it all boils down to manpower
a) the idea is great, this can be the true beginning of Debian-made-easy
b) atm, it misses this bit, incoming should be more appealing
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby Roken on Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:30 pm

@ zerozero

The problem you are going to hit is that, whilst a stable monthly update (which is, let's face it, pretty much what MS does and so will likely be a familiar practice to newcomers) is desirable to hang on to Linux virgins, in order to implement it you need Linux veterans for the testing stage. Veterans can only test by getting the updates sooner, which means testers need to stick with testing and make sure that they feed back.

The system fails if the veterans test and fix as they go (as I tend to do - not out of any malice or disinterest in the wider community, but out of a desire to keep my system running smoothly) without feeding back the results. Depending on how this is handled, I would be happy to report back update failures and fixes when appropriate, but surely we are already doing that in the breakages threads anyway, and so the next dependancy is someone keeping a close eye on those threads to identify troublesome areas. Without at least that, the whole monthly updates scheme will fail miserably.

I'm happy to contribute, as long as there's something to contribute to, but the backend infrastructure needs to be in place to make it worthwhile.
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby rhodry on Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:44 am

I am only a "junior" around these ranks, but if I can just throw my 0.02cents worth in to what is a useful ongoing discussion.

There is a reason not yet mentioned why I am not willing to use "Latest". Where I live we operate under adsl quotas. Just means that under your 'plan - or $/month' you are allowed a fixed amount of upload/download data (say for example 50Gb for $50/month) and that has to be managed carefully at the end of each month. My ISP runs a fairly comprehensive Linux mirror with most of the major distributions mirrored. Anything a member downloads from that mirror is "free from quota calculation". This is a reward for members because the costs to the ISP are negligible as against hauling something from the other side of the world. However, they are fairly conservative about changes to that mirror's content. They include the Mint isos and the Mint packages and the full Debian repos. When I approached them about whether or not they would include the Incoming/Latest repos, they balked because they recognized (from my supporting docs) that it was just another copy of Debian Testing - and they already mirror this!! Yes, a Linux-wise ISP - who would have thought? :shock:

So, my choice was continue with "Testing" quota free with small doses & due care or move to "Incoming/Latest" included in quota and bundled in a big heap. No brainer guys - I actually moved to "unstable" rather than returning to "testing".

I, like others, am more than happy to offer help where I can, but I am now "outside" the mainstream because the update structure wants me to go back to being a newbie. I am the same in that if "Incoming/Latest" were the only option to run LMDE I would have to move on.

I have been using LMDE since it 1st came out and I have had maybe 2 or 3 minor hiccups and NO major breakages. I think that is because I adopted the op's approach of conservative, but frequent, updating; and I totally agree that apt already has the capability to allow us to administer our system on this basis.

I applaud Clem et al in their attempts to keep things simple for newbies, but, if it is at the expense of experienced users not running "Incoming", I think it could end up a work load too big for too few?!

PCLinuxOS rolling release currently adopts a similar approach to that proposed by the OP. They basically say that if you do not install and update through their recommended method of Synaptic Package Manager (soon to be Yum/Yumex) which does conservative, safe-upgrades by default, don't come complaining that "the updates broke my system!!". Maybe not as newbie friendly as they want here but "come on guys", life has to have some rules and responsibilities?!

sorry to waffle,
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby viking777 on Sat Aug 06, 2011 6:09 am

Thanks for all the replies, it is good to know I am not completely alone in my thinking if nothing else. I guess the long and short of it is that you can't please all the people all the time.

Rhodry:

Although I run Pclos as a backup distro, I had no idea that they either have or propose to have a similar system in place to my original suggestion. I have mixed feelings about that, I run Pclos because it is a good stable distro and it means I don't totally lose touch with rpm package management ( I think debian package management is superior, but rpm is not going away any time soon, so you might as well know something about it) and because it uses the best graphical package manager in the world bar none - Synaptic. The choice to move away from that is terrible in my opinion! I have never used Yumex, but the loss of apt/synaptic would remove one of the reasons for me to continue using Pclos - shame really :(
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby rhodry on Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:37 am

The choice to move away from that is terrible in my opinion! I have never used Yumex, but the loss of apt/synaptic would remove one of the reasons for me to continue using Pclos - shame really :(


@viking

Not to drift too far off topic, but just to explain. It is not so much Synaptic that Tex has a problem with, rather "apt4rpm". Apparently, the internal structures of rpm vs deb packages are very different and "apt4rpm" has either stalled or ceased (don't quote me there) its development since the recent updates to the rpm packaging suite. He is therefore looking to move the distro to an rpm specific package management environment. There are a few of those of course but it my understanding that at this stage his preference is for Yum ( and by extension Yumex as the graphical front end). I used it under OpenSuse; it's not too bad actually - not Synaptic, but I could use it.

On the upgrade stuff; I would just add that eventually I would see LMDE variants targeting the Debian CUT (Continuously Updating Testing) version. I can't see that eventuating though until possibly even after Debian 7 stable is released. Its primary purpose is to alleviate the other complaint about Testing being the 'freeze' that takes place for months before the Stable release. I truthfully find 'Sid/Unstable' the better of the rolling Debian alternatives. I've moved LMDE-Xfce there - I've even moved Mepis11 there! :)

Me staying with Mint or not will have not a lot to do with this issue though and everything to do with Boo's release of KDE against LMDE, because I simply wish to distance myself from this whole Gtk3/Gnome3/Gnome Shell/Unity/Fallbacks debacle for a while until it all settles down a bit. I think it is many times worse than the (simply) buggy initial release of KDE4. If Boo does his usual great job, I will probably migrate there, but still not use Incoming/Latest.

cheers,
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby viking777 on Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:54 am

Not to drift too far off topic, but just to explain. It is not so much Synaptic that Tex has a problem with, rather "apt4rpm". Apparently, the internal structures of rpm vs deb packages are very different and "apt4rpm" has either stalled or ceased (don't quote me there) its development since the recent updates to the rpm packaging suite. He is therefore looking to move the distro to an rpm specific package management environment. There are a few of those of course but it my understanding that at this stage his preference is for Yum ( and by extension Yumex as the graphical front end). I used it under OpenSuse; it's not too bad actually - not Synaptic, but I could use it.


Interesting information, thanks for that. As nearly all my Pclos updates are done with a command line all I need to know is the yum equivalent of
Code: Select all
apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade
:lol:

On the upgrade stuff; I would just add that eventually I would see LMDE variants targeting the Debian CUT (Continuously Updating Testing) version. I can't see that eventuating though until possibly even after Debian 7 stable is released. Its primary purpose is to alleviate the other complaint about Testing being the 'freeze' that takes place for months before the Stable release. I truthfully find 'Sid/Unstable' the better of the rolling Debian alternatives. I've moved LMDE-Xfce there - I've even moved Mepis11 there!


More interesting stuff. I have never heard of the CUT version of debian - sound interesting. The Debian freeze period can be a bit of a pain.

Me staying with Mint or not will have not a lot to do with this issue though and everything to do with Boo's release of KDE against LMDE, because I simply wish to distance myself from this whole Gtk3/Gnome3/Gnome Shell/Unity/Fallbacks debacle for a while until it all settles down a bit. I think it is many times worse than the (simply) buggy initial release of KDE4. If Boo does his usual great job, I will probably migrate there, but still not use Incoming/Latest.


Oh well, we can't agree about everything, and we certainly don't agree about KDE4 - 'nuff said :wink:
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby zerozero on Sat Aug 06, 2011 8:06 pm

viking777 wrote: all I need to know is the yum equivalent of
Code: Select all
apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade


Code: Select all
yum update

in fedora the switch
Code: Select all
--skip-broken
is very useful to avoid dependencies problems and removal (saved me lots of times :lol: )

As for Debian CUT http://cut.debian.net/ i follow the project since at least here viewtopic.php?f=141&t=67502&start=100#p399864 and to be honest, i still can't understand it :oops: (ok now call me dumb :lol: )
Last edited by zerozero on Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: link corrected
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby viking777 on Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:30 am

zerozero wrote:
viking777 wrote: all I need to know is the yum equivalent of
Code: Select all
apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade


Code: Select all
yum update


Even easier then.

As for Debian CUT http://cut.debian.net/ i follow the project since at least here viewtopic.php?f=141&t=67502&hilit=cut&start=80#p399864 and to be honest, i still can't understand it :oops: (ok now call me dumb :lol: )


I read the 'manifesto' and I agree with the points it raises, but I didn't go any deeper than that. However I didn't get an idea as to whether this is a 'real' existing project or just somebody's idea like my opening post.
It may be me, but did you make a mistake in the second link you posted? I don't read anything about Debian Cut in there, in fact it isn't even one of your posts.
Doesn't matter much, if the time comes when Mint starts tracking Debian Cut I will read about it then.
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Re: Update Packs - An Alternative?

Postby zerozero on Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:57 am

i would like to go a few posts back (to Roken's post) where he raises one of my main concerns about this process: if incoming isn't appealing, and that means more updates, tracking testing closer, we will end up with users in latest (for safety, comfort and looking for a system that just works) and users in testing (for the fun, the thrill or whatever reason)
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