Testing the dist-upgrade process (for Dapper)

Carlos Ribeiro carribeiro at gmail.com
Wed Dec 21 23:46:56 GMT 2005

The reason behind this message is a looong history.

It started when I tried to upgrade to Breezy on one of my computers. Then
another, and another one. In all of them, I had at least one issue that I
think was avoidable, involving the dreaded xorg migration. In one of them,
the keyboard map was broken after the upgrade. And in two cases, the
presence of gnucash caused big problems in the dist-upgrade process that
involved some manual dpkg fixing and lots of 'apt-get -f install' calls.

A friend of mine had similar issues, involving both xorg and also his samba
setup. It him a week to solve it, and I'm not sure if he even runs with
Ubuntu anymore.

Today I've read about the email & cron problem; it seems that Postfix is not
installed by default in Breezy while it was on Hoary (or so people says).
Strangely enough, this is something that can't be detect by people using
dist-upgrade; only by people doing a new install woul dnotice this. But

What all these problems have in common is that it involves some basic Q&A --
testing that upgrades do not break existing systems, and testing that brand
new system conform to some basic administrative premises (such as cron
working as before).

Now, I know that testing is *hard*, and that is totally impossible to
guarantee that there is no problem with every configuration or combination
of packages. It's not just hard, it's plainly impossible. It's also hard to
keep the experience intact while improving and optimizing the system. But I
believe that the experience could be improved.

My suggestion is to provide some time in the project timeframe specifically
to test dist-upgrading a system. This is one of the things where automated
testing could prove useful, as well as using VMWare and such tools. The goal
is to make sure that upgrading does not break any functionality in a
standard dist-upgrade.

It may be the case that such a moment already exist in the project; in this
case I apologize for the intrusion. But, if my own experience is a measure
of how things usually work, the experience is not as good as it should, to
the point where it involves some command line wizardry to get things

Carlos Ribeiro
Consultoria em Projetos
blog: http://rascunhosrotos.blogspot.com
blog: http://pythonnotes.blogspot.com
mail: carribeiro at gmail.com
mail: carribeiro at yahoo.com
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