Updating A Rolling Release
@ flay | Tuesday, Feb 9, 2021 | 3 minutes read | Update at Tuesday, Feb 9, 2021

Listening To: Klaus Nomi - Total Eclipse (Video) - Another from Urgh! He once backed up Bowie on SNL performing “The Man Who Sold The World
Photo: Every night I go to bed with this inches from my face. Drooling.

The main boxes around here almost all run a Linux distribution called Manjaro. It’s based on Arch linux, one of a few base types about (Debian and Red Hat being the other two major options).

Manjaro is very much bleeding cutting edge, updating often with the latest (and presumably, greatest) packages. Which, while not leaving it unstable, leaves it sometimes prone to some niggles after any major release. Bugs happen and occasionally slip through when your OS is changing so quickly. Here’s how I update for safety’s sake:

  • Get notification of update. Do not initiate. Check the release notes (here for Manjaro).
  • Wait a day or two. Check the release notes again for any major stumbling blocks and solutions in the “New issues:” section (I had a run of them with an outdated Nvidia card at one point).
  • Make sure the system is backed up. We mainly rely on a snapshot tool called Timeshift but any way of restoring the system will work. I’ll often take this as a sign it’s time to image the drive off-site too.
  • perform the update. I prefer to watch things scroll across the screen, so use the command line (“sudo pacman -Syyu”). Parse the log for any major errors.
  • since the kernel is usually updated, it’s usually time for a reboot.
  • When the system comes back up, you’re usually back in business. If you do run into a major issue, you can either restore the entire system or fix the issue (often listed in the forum linked above). If it’s a single package you find misbehaving, simple downgrading that to a previous version often works for me (though this is rare)

This may all seem like a bit of a hassle, but in practice it’s usually a smooth ride. Just double checking your snapshot is current (which is usually automatic) is the only real step in the process. If that’s fine, you’re golden.

At least for this dork, it’s worth it to be able to access all the latest tools and resources. If that’s not for you, a LTS (long term support) version of a Linux distribution may indeed be a better option. And that’s what many will normally install for a non-technical user. There are so many, it’s not worth getting into here but I’d recommend something based on Ubuntu for most use cases. From Kubuntu to Elementary and Mint, there is something for anybody. All great.

If you do run into a problem you can’t solve, don’t panic. Most of “us” are super friendly and actually like helping. Reach out.

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