Please don't automatic upgrade

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at
Tue Apr 7 13:27:41 UTC 2009

Hash: SHA1

Vincenzo Ciancia wrote on 06/04/09 14:24:
> 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.

That approach might scale to about 10 million users max -- or maybe 20
million, if you did an extraordinary job of attracting every potential
user who knows how to recover from broken updates (or who has someone
on-call who does), while simultaneously turning away any potential user
who doesn't.

But it wouldn't scale to more than that, so it's not going to work for
Ubuntu. If you're about to hand over money for a netbook running Ubuntu,
the shop assistant at TecAsia in Kuala Lumpur's Low Yat Plaza isn't
going to interrogate you first to make sure you know how (or have
someone on call who knows how) to recover from broken updates. Neither
will the assistant manager in the technology department at John Lewis in
London, when you buy an Acer Aspire. Neither will's checkout
page in the US, when you buy any of the several computers they have with
Ubuntu preinstalled.

> 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.

Then, in the absence of any other realistic solution, we need to work
out how to make upgrades more safe.

- --
Matthew Paul Thomas
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