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My question relates primarily to Arch Linux, but I imagine that it could be generalized to any rolling release distribution.

Is there a standard method for updating when one is far behind the current "updated release"?

With rolling releases, it is usually bad to go without updating for extended periods of time (say a month or two.) But what happens if you're unable to update because of lack of internet or time (e.g: study/vacation abroad)?

The problem is the following:

  • there are a lot of config files that need changing all at once.
  • with more packages updating, its harder to figure out which one breaks something.

So we'd want to somehow reduce the amount of packages being updated. Could any of the following possible solutions work to solve this problem?

Solution 1: Update to a certain date or only so far at one time.

So if I was behind by a month, could I update one week at a time (3 weeks ago, 2 weeks ago, 1 week ago, current) thereby reducing the changes happening at once and making the update manageable?

If you knew in advance that you would want to do this then could you setup a server to take snapshots of the mirrors every day/week? So later you know how to update to that point in time?

Solution 2: Get a list of packages that have been updated and update each package one at a time.

This would work as long as the dependencies didn't get to intertwined and force you to update everything at once anyways.

Others?

EDIT: describe problem explicitly, added solution

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could someone w/ enough reputation tag it as rolling-release as well? I don't have enough rep. to create a new tag. –  Matthew Jan 19 '11 at 17:58
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2 Answers

It seems that it is expected you should read all the news since you last did so before updating entirely and working on any config files you know you need to. The wiki article on the topic, https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Pacman#Upgrading_packages doesn't mention any way to get a week at a time so it'd be best to ask on the forums or irc (archlinux on freenode), as you would for any other questions you need to ask the devs about.

It's a shame, but it does seem that rolling releases don't offer much in the way of what you want. Maybe it's assumed that all the updates make the least possible need editing.

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With archlinux when a new update is released into the repo, the old version is removed. Arch is also my main distro, and I've forgotten to update for well over a month before and yet to have any breakage. However I am not using the testing repo, and if you can't update regularly i'd advise not to.

Also if something needs to be done by hand pacman creates a new config file config.pacnew, so you can look at what needs to be done and 90% of the time the old config files will still work.

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