Distro-provided mechanism to clean up old kernels

Pandu Poluan pandu at poluan.info
Fri Feb 17 09:42:36 UTC 2012

Server guys (me included) will only ask that whatever's the default in grub
be kept. That, and maybe 2 latest kernel excluding the default.

Server guys are also (usually) much more aware with what's going on, so for
them they would appreciate a tool that will:

* List all kernels (and their baggages) found in /boot

* Protect the current default in grub

* Show which 2 other kernels are recommended/protected

* Provide a way to protect other kernels explicitly

* Delete the useless kernels (and their baggage) automatically.

 On Feb 17, 2012 1:25 PM, "Martin Pitt" <martin.pitt at ubuntu.com> wrote:

> Dustin Kirkland [2012-02-16 10:11 -0600]:
> > I don't want to go into all the ways and reasons that the one-liner
> > above is sub-optimal or even evil, but I would like to call attention
> > to the generic problem and suggest that as a distribution, we provide
> > a supported and recommended utility to handle this.
> I agree. Especially since we switched to a two-weeks kernel update
> rhythm where almost every update in the most recent stable and LTS
> releases breaks ABI, kernels pile up like mad.
> >  1) Surely we're not the only Ubuntu users whose /boot or root
> > partition has filled up with age-old kernels, are we?
> Certainly not. I ran into several "home support" cases where Ubuntu
> started acting strangely because the root partition filled up, and we
> removed about 15 old kernels.
> >  2) Is computer-janitor here to stay, or to be abandoned in favor of
> > something else?
> >  3) Can we expect computer-janitor to work on command-line only
> > environments (Ubuntu servers) too?  If so, can we get SRUs out so that
> > it works on older distributions?
> TBH, I don't think c-j or any other manual tool is the right answer
> here. While it's nice to have it, it doesn't feel right that Ubuntu
> "automatically" introduces the problem, but not automatically clean
> up after itself.
> >  4) Can we, as a distro, provide and recommend a utility to clean out
> > specifically old kernels (perhaps aside from cleaning up userspace
> > cruft a la computer-janitor)?
> I think it'd be best if update-manager would auto-remove all kernel
> packages except the most recent two or three during dist-upgrade. This
> needs to be specified carefully of course, as people might explicitly
> run a kernel from the previous distro release. So perhaps some
> clevernes like if you install linux-image-3.2.0-N-generic, delete all
> kernels up to linux-image-3.2.0-(N-2)-generic.
> linux-headers-* is already covered by apt-get autoremove, which is
> good. Perhaps we can mark older kernels as auto-removable as well, so
> that without any other tools you at least have one command to clean
> them up all?
> For servers it'd be even better if apt-get dist-upgrade would do the
> cleanup itself, of course. But we have fewer places to hook into the
> logic than in update-manager, so this might be tricky.
> Martin
> --
> Martin Pitt                        | http://www.piware.de
> Ubuntu Developer (www.ubuntu.com)  | Debian Developer  (www.debian.org)
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