Please don't automatic upgrade

Mackenzie Morgan macoafi at
Mon Apr 6 14:45:46 UTC 2009

On Monday 06 April 2009 9:24:40 am Vincenzo Ciancia wrote:
> Unless you can _guarantee_ that every upgrade will NOT harm the system
> and e.g. make it impossible to login, or break Xorg, it is much wiser if
> upgrades are done only by the hand of persons who know how to solve a
> glitch. This happens to me every now and then, but until now I was
> always able to recover the system. In the current situation, and with my
> more than 10 years experience in _using_ debian and then ubuntu, I will
> call a liar any of you claiming that upgrades are safe :) If you can
> guarantee this, contact me, I will signal your name for a Turing award.

Only security updates can be set to auto-install right now.  And security is 
worth the risk of having to use K3B instead of Brasero for a week, isn't it?

By the way, when was the last time an update (in a stable release) broke X?  
September 2006 is the last (and only!) one I remember.  Ever since then, 
there's this horrible fear...come on, the lesson was learned, and kernels 
aren't being released until their accompanying modules are done building now. 
Shouldn't Jaunty's DKMS prevent issues with people who aren't using 
repository-sourced graphics drivers anyway?

> Notice that you first have to solve the problem of the dpkg database
> breaking, which actually happens and breaks the upgrade system,

How common is that?  And isn't it something that only happens if you manually 
kill -9 an apt process or if your hard drive is failing (which is expected to 
cause everything to break anyway)?  Do your parents know about kill -9?

> and of
> the system running out of space in /var and /tmp. Which you BET will
> happen soon, or later.

Not if you use that wonderful little setting in Software Sources so that it 
doesn't hold onto old packages until the end of time (and then some).  As long 
as you let it auto-delete old debs, / shouldn't be filling up.  Also, if you 
use the default Ubuntu install mode, /var, /tmp, and / will not be separate 
partitions.  You'd need to fill the entire drive, at which point I wonder how 
you're getting anything done at all.

> My best suggestion if you want e.g. your parents to use ubuntu without
> risk when you are miles away from home, is to give them an USER account,
> not an ADMINISTRATOR one, so they will not be bothered with upgrades
> they don't understand. The USER accounts have been designed with your
> parents in mind. The ADMINISTRATOR accounts, they are for You!

So um...when do the security updates get installed?  When you visit for 

> OTOH, thanks to the power of the command line that only us unix freaks
> understand :) you can install ssh and eventually do upgrades remotely.
> But when your mom calls and says "hey the computer is broken" you know
> what you did the night before.

Assuming you copy down the package list and changelogs on a piece of paper, 

Mackenzie Morgan
apt-get moo
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