#1 Complaint about Ubuntu: Updates break things

Timo Jyrinki timo.jyrinki at gmail.com
Sun Dec 21 10:06:27 GMT 2008

2008/12/19 Cody A.W. Somerville <cody-somerville at ubuntu.com>:
> For example, I remember one time an update to the nvidia binary blob drivers
> caused the xserver to fail to start in certain cases. It didn't affect the
> *right* people or *enough* people for it to get the attention it deserved.

This reminds me of another problem:

A friend of mine upgrade 8.04 LTS with latest stable updates, but one
download did not succeed. Update-manager asked if to continue or not
despite this, and she answered Yes because there was no indication it
would be potentially harmful (not taking into account that most people
would not read the dialog carefully anyway). It turned out the one
not-downloaded file was (probably) fglrx/linux-restricted-modules, but
otherwise the kernel was upgraded, and the next boot (and the
following) ended in compiz white screen of death. Dunno why compiz did
not fallback to metacity, but system basically became non-functional
for the ordinary user (I knew to press Alt-F2 and start metacity).
Probably even recovery so that "ati" would be used would not have
helped since there is some weird problem with the card and the NVIDIA
motherboard so that only fglrx really seemed to work.

I think it's relatively common that because of some network problem
(on ubuntu servers or otherwise) one or more packages fail to
download, and it might cause severe breakage. Should the
update-manager actually disallow installing packages if not everything
was downloaded, or at least default to No much more with more
indicative warning that system might break?

Maybe also apt should be configured to be more fault-tolerant and
retry a couple of times each failed package later on in the process.


More information about the ubuntu-devel mailing list