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Thread: Update Manager Offers a "Partial Upgrade"? Read This.

  1. #1
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    Update Manager Offers a "Partial Upgrade"? Read This.

    After the release of Ubuntu 9.10 Beta, we've been flooded with threads asking for assistance related to issues caused by careless usage of the "Partial Upgrade" feature of Update Manager. This document aims to clarify what a "Partial Upgrade" is, and why, in most cases, you'll want to avoid it.


    Summary
    or "I don't really care if I keep messing things up and wasting my and others' time with preventable problems, and you have 30 seconds to convince me to care!"

    If you use Update Manager to upgrade your packages, and it offers to do a "Partial Upgrade", do not accept it without thoroughly checking what packages it offers to remove, upgrade and install. If you do, you will most likely end up removing packages that shouldn't be removed, and waste time and effort repairing your testing installation and asking for assistance.

    Most "Partial Upgrade" situations occur due to package archive inconsistencies, which will typically be resolved within a few hours. If your package manager is confused, and so are you, simply wait and hold off the updates until things settle down.


    Short Version
    or "Hmm, so I shouldn't blindly do "Partial Upgrade"s and dist-upgrade? I didn't know that..."

    Due to the fact that uploads to the repositories of the active development release (Karmic, as of now) are asynchronous and uncoordinated, dependencies of certain packages may arrive later than the dependent package. This causes package management tools such as Update Manager, which are mainly meant to be used with stable releases of Ubuntu where the package archive is always consistent, to interpret the situation as requiring a dist-upgrade to install new packages and/or repair packages in a "reqreinst" (requires reinstallation) state. What Update Manager performs when doing a "Partial Upgrade" is a dist-upgrade.

    When testing development releases, most of the time, a "Partial Upgrade" is undesired. The situations where it's needed are limited to new packages obsoleting old ones (as in the case of the software-center package replacing software-store) and package removals from the archive.

    Do not assume that since you're running a development release, a "Partial Upgrade" is necessarily warranted.


    Long Version
    or "I want to be a better tester! I care! Tell me more!"

    In its normal operating mode, Update Manager will not offer to remove packages. This is the equivalent of "apt-get upgrade"ing your existing packages. In "Partial Upgrade" mode, it can. Sometimes, the removal is warranted, such as when a package is obsoloted by a new one. Other times, it will not be, and a "Partial Upgrade" can offer to remove important packages due to missing dependencies.

    Now, the key question:

    "How do I know whether a package is actually meant to be replaced or removed?"

    There's more than one way:

    • Check the changelog of the package in question. You can do this via "Package > Download Changelog" in Synaptic, or "aptitude changelog package_name", or by going to packages.ubuntu.com and clicking "Ubuntu changelog" for the package you're curious about, or visiting the URL

      https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/package_name/+changelog

      where package_name is the name of the source package you're curious about. The most recent changelog entry will indicate the reason for the removal or replacement, if there is one.

    • Keep an eye on the changes mailing list or RSS feed for the active development release. The current ones are the karmic-changes mailing list, and its RSS counterpart.

      For an example scenario of using the list of recent changes to determine whether a package removal and "Partial Upgrade" is safe, see post #101.

    • Check the build status information page for Ubuntu and the queue of new uploads to Karmic on Launchpad to see if those mysterious missing dependencies are coming down the pipes, or there are problems preventing them from being built.

    • Do a forum search, or join the #ubuntu+1 channel on irc.freenode.net and ask around to see whether other people are having problems with the same package(s).

    • If you're still confused, simply wait and see if things are magically fixed within a few hours. If not, start a new thread or post to an existing one on the same issue to check with others.


    A typical interaction with a package manager involves the following three steps:

    • You select some packages to be installed / removed / upgraded

    • The package manager resolves your intention according to its package management logic, the available software sources, and the priorities you've indicated (as in APT pinning), if any, to a set of actions it has to perform, and outputs a list of those actions

    • You check this list, confirm it if you're happy with it, or cancel it and refine your selection until you're happy with it.


    If you skip the third step, assuming that simply updating your package information and hitting "Apply" or pressing "Enter" when the prompt comes up will give you the latest changes, and/or that since you're running a development release, any kind of package conflict / removal / replacement, even those that seem to intentionally remove lots of packages, are to be expected, you'll keep breaking your installation unnecessarily. Don't do that. Review that list of changes.

    While asking for and providing assistance regarding testing is one of the main functions of this forum, learning the basics of using development releases is a prerequisite for doing useful testing, and if lots of people keep messing up their testing installations due to being unfamiliar with those basics, the forum will get flooded with duplicate threads and quicky become much less useful to everyone.

    Please take some time to learn the basics, and if you need help with that, don't hesitate to ask!
    Last edited by 23meg; October 23rd, 2009 at 08:47 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

    Re: Update Manager Offers a "Partial Upgrade"? Read This.

    +1

    Well done 23meg
    Maybe we need a post like this as a sticky as soon as the 10.04 testing forum is opened.

  3. #3
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    Re: Update Manager Offers a "Partial Upgrade"? Read This.

    Excellent!
    I understand this also goes for "Apt-get upgrade" and "Fix Broken Packages" in the Recovery boot; if it says " xx Packages Removed" be EXTRA AWARE of what is being removed. For example, removing the kernel can really ruin your day...
    Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (& Windows XP-SP3 for Flight Sim only) - (1) 3.4 G/3G RAM/NVIDIA GT630, 2048VRAM/SB AudigySE Audio (2) 2.9 G/2G RAM/NVIDIA 9500GT,1024VRAM/SB Audio (3) 2.3 G/2G RAM/NVIDIA FX1500M,256VRAM/Sigmatel Audio

  4. #4
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    Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat

    Re: Update Manager Offers a "Partial Upgrade"? Read This.

    sometimes I go into synaptic and "mark all packages for upgrade", and it selects the unselected packages. Also, sometimes a package gets renamed and thus it will get removed and the newly named package will get installed (make sure before updating, synaptic should show it).

    But I definitely agree with waiting 24 hours before attempting to upgrade, and do more investigating as to why it is offering partial upgrade.

  5. #5
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    Ubuntu Karmic Koala (testing)

    Re: Update Manager Offers a "Partial Upgrade"? Read This.

    +1 great write-up, we need this for 10.04 too!

  6. #6
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    Re: Update Manager Offers a "Partial Upgrade"? Read This.

    The idea of starting the 10.04 cycle with a sticky like this is a GREAT idea.

    Good job.

    Thanks.
    Dell 480 XPS 3G ram Quad Core 2.40GHz, Radeon HD 2400 PRO, Audigy1, 3x320G HDD, 320G External, Debian Testing for use, Debian Squeeze for secure use, Debian Sid for FUN

  7. #7
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    Re: Update Manager Offers a "Partial Upgrade"? Read This.

    +1

    Thank you for explaining all this. I had been wondering just why Partial Upgrades were offered at all, given their potential for serious breakage. Now I understand why the option exists, and what is going on in the underlying logic.

    This definitely needs to be made a Sticky for 10.04. I think a lot of people would be very grateful to have read this before considering clicking that Partial Upgrade button.
    Drifting back and forth between Windows and Linux--I'm in it for the technology, not the philosophy!

  8. #8
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    Re: Update Manager Offers a "Partial Upgrade"? Read This.

    I did one of these yest. or so using the Karmic Beta and now its telling me it failed and then the system is updated and um will now close. I figure its a lag on servers but we will see.


  9. #9
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    Lightbulb Re: Update Manager Offers a "Partial Upgrade"? Read This.

    23 tks for the info this sticky should be included in all testing forms just my 2 cents

  10. #10
    dino99's Avatar
    dino99 is offline Ubuntu addict and loving it
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    Re: Update Manager Offers a "Partial Upgrade"? Read This.

    maybe the best solution should be:

    partial updates( greyed packages) not shown in the list. If you agree, brainstorm can promote this.

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