Pre-upgrade warnings and advice?

Neal McBurnett neal at
Fri Jun 6 15:24:00 UTC 2014

On Fri, Jun 06, 2014 at 02:46:46PM +0100, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Neal McBurnett wrote on 02/06/14 20:49:
> > Is there anything in the official upgrade tools to remind users 
> > about use of ppas, non-repo packages, unofficial desktops or other 
> > potentially problematic bits of software like unofficial programs 
> > which "tweak" UI settings and the like?
> > 
> > I recall some warning about some such packages at upgrade time,
> > but I forget when it happens, what it includes, and what advice it 
> > gives.
> The alert appears after the release notes, and before the new packages
> are downloaded. It has primary text "Third party sources disabled",
> and secondary text "Some third party entries in your sources.list were
> disabled. You can re-enable them after the upgrade with the
> 'software-properties' tool or your package manager." It has one
> button, "Close".
> There are several problems with this. Is it really necessary for the
> sources to be disabled? Does that mean software from those channels
> will be removed too? If so, which software is involved? And if not, if
> a security update is issued in that third-party source later on, am I
> just out of luck? Why is there no button for cancelling the upgrade at
> this point? And if I cancel the upgrade after this point, do the
> sources remain disabled, and if so, why?
> Even if the function is unchanged, the presentation could be improved
> in many ways. Why am I exposed to the filename "sources.list", when I
> probably added the channel through Software Sources without seeing
> that filename? What is an "entry", and what does it mean for it to be
> "disabled"? Which ones were disabled, exactly? Why is a graphical tool
> referred to by its command-line name? Why is it using Ascii
> apostrophes instead of quote marks? And what is a "package manager"?

Excellent points, Matthew!  And thanks for digging out the details.

> > It would seem most convenient to have a safe, stand-alone 
> > application that would just look for such software and give good 
> > advice on what might not work, where folks might go or look for 
> > upgrade paths supported by PPA developers or other organizations, 
> > etc.  It would help a lot if it didn't spew out too much 
> > information, e.g. by combining warnings for a set of packages into 
> > an overall warning about a particular desktop or suite of related 
> > packages with similar upgrade issues.
> Why would it be most convenient for it to be a standalone application?
> That would mean that most people upgrading wouldn't see it and
> therefore wouldn't benefit from it. And if it was intended for use
> outside the upgrade process, that's what Software Sources is for. It's
> already a Windows-Vista-like awkwardness that Software Sources is a
> standalone app instead of a System Settings panel.
> - -- 
> mpt

The option I was focusing on is the "pre-upgrade" phase.  I'd like to have an app that just keeps track for me of what I've been doing that might affect future upgrades.  It could also help me recover my third-party packages, tweaks, etc. after an upgrade.  It would help us do "spring cleaning" of our sources, packages, etc, when we're not in the heat of following a shiny package ("Hey I want to try this package out and will do whatever it takes to install it, ignoring possible upgrade issues down the line.")

In that regard, the recent response describing Aptik was most encouraging.  See e.g.

 Aptik - A Tool to Backup/Restore Your Favourite PPAs and Apps in Ubuntu

 Aptik: Command line utility to simplify re-installation of software packages after upgrading and re-installing the Linux distribution.

Unfortunately it seems to still only be available from a PPA itself.

So I see two use cases.  Besides the one I describe, you're noting that the actual upgrade process should be clearer, and I certainly agree.  That would benefit everyone who upgrades.  At a minimum I'd suggest that during there be better information, as you suggest, an option to cancel, and a reference to an official version of aptik or something like it.


Neal McBurnett       

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