#1 Complaint about Ubuntu: Updates break things

Bryce Harrington bryce at canonical.com
Fri Dec 19 19:57:13 GMT 2008

On Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 10:20:26AM -0800, Steve Langasek wrote:
> On Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 12:46:28PM -0500, Cody A.W. Somerville wrote:
> >  After getting yet another phone call from one of the many average, everyday
> > users I know using Ubuntu about how after downloading and installing yet
> > another mammoth load of updates on her Ubuntu machine, running a stable,
> > supported release, her computer crashed with the following scary message,
> > I've decided to write this e-mail.
> > Aborted because of invalid compressed format (err=2)
> > >
> > Kernel Panic: SYNCING VFS, unable to mount root fs on unknown-block.
> > >
> Please note the procedure documented in
> <https://wiki.ubuntu.com/StableReleaseUpdates#Procedure> for handling
> SRU regressions that reach -updates.  Regressions *are* a serious business,
> and will be handled seriously by the SRU team, but we have to be told about
> them in order to act.
> The error message listed above sounds like an initramfs loading error at
> boot time.  I'm not sure how that could come to pass as a consequence of an
> SRU; do you have any more information about this?

I think the update mechanism gets blamed far more than it deserves.
It's easy to understand why.  Consider some scenario like this:

 1.  sudo cat /dev/random > /etc/X11/xorg.conf

 2.  Continue using your _stable_ _robust_ Ubuntu O/S for several weeks

 3.  Notice there's a security update to <foo> that requires a reboot

 4.  Reboot and OMFG! X broke!  The update for <foo> broke X!!
     You bastards!

Anyway, not to say that every SRU is perfect, and I don't know the
particulars of this VFS case, but based on the number of times I've seen
bugs incorrectly blamed on updates, I'd withhold judgements about the
updates system until you've definitively proved that an update caused
it.  It could easily just be coincidental.


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