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May 9, 2012 / Kamil Páral

Fedora 15, 16 & 17 warning: automated system updates may break your system

Recently we have discovered a serious bug in Fedora 17, that is also present in Fedora 15 and 16 (I’m not sure about earlier releases). If you have your system updates applied automatically (which is enabled by default), you might break your system when shutting down/rebooting the computer. There is no safeguard that would tell you “please don’t turn off your computer now, system is just being updated”. No, we simply abort the update process in the middle. Horrible things may happen. Fortunately that doesn’t occur too often, but the possibility is there.

I can heartily recommend everyone to disable automatic updates until we have a proper fix ready. In GNOME just open a tool called Software settings and switch Automatically install to Nothing.

KDE guys can be happier, because they have disabled it by default. But again, I recommend to check the setting. You can find it in System settings -> Software management.

It is highly unlikely that a proper fix will land in Fedora 17 Final. We will probably just flip the option in GNOME to have nothing installed automatically by default. That is not a fix, just a way to minimize damage. A proper solution might be available no sooner than in Fedora 18. Until that time… I don’t recommend to enable this option.

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  1. Kostya Berger / May 9 2012 19:04

    Ah, so it’s just as well that I never DO enable anything automatic, but the “updates ready” notification. And also, since update system tends to have bugs (like not being able to find Internet connection when GNOME NetworkManager is disabled — hope you’ll fix this one in the future), I prefer updating manually with `sudo yum update`. This one never fails.

  2. lzap / May 9 2012 22:56

    I wonder if manual “yum update” is also affected.

    • timlau / May 10 2012 07:29

      If you shut down your system while doing a ‘yum update’ it will stop in the middle of the process, but you will get a warning next time you run yum and can run ‘yum-complete-transaction’ if yum was aborted in the middle of execution a transaction.
      But the point is that ‘yum update’ don’t run by it self, you have to start it so you know it is running.

      • Samuel Sieb / May 10 2012 19:23

        You can try running yum-complete-transaction, but depending on which packages were being updated and when it got interrupted, you can end up with a mess (e.g. it tries to remove half the packages on the system). I’ve run into this a couple of times. It’s always best to not interrupt yum once it starts the updating process. Otherwise, you may end up with manual intervention being required.

  3. Akshay Vyas / May 9 2012 23:00

    yeah in f 17 that’s true but i am not sure about f16 as i haven’t noticed anything like that on f16 yet

  4. Kevin Kofler / May 10 2012 23:51

    Even with that bug fixed, I still think running updates automatically by default is a very bad idea. We disable this in Apper for a reason. 1. Users don’t expect it, at all. 2. Doing security updates only is particularly broken because we do not test security updates without the prior non-security updates (against which they are even built), and because security updates can be superseded by non-security updates, hiding the security implications.

    • Kostya Berger / May 11 2012 13:33

      My reasons exactly, why I had to switch running `yum update` instead of all other options. And at least, in this case problems with KPackage don’t interfere with the update process.
      lzap, timlau: since `yum update` is run interactively in console, I can ‘t imagine how I might shut the system down while update process still under way.
      Or, there is another problem show up from time to time: the update app shows there ARE updates, but after trying to download gives off ERROR. Now with `yum update` I’ve never noticed this happen.

  5. lzap / May 16 2012 10:05

    So can we, now?

    • Kamil Páral / May 21 2012 17:12

      Don’t be foolish, you expect us to have fixed the bug? No way, we just flipped the default to Update: None. I don’t recommend to enable it.

  6. wintercorpse / Mar 6 2013 13:10

    So am I just screwed? I can’t get into fedora it hangs at the Fedora symbol, it self upgraded and well, lets just say the upgrades were devastating. Do I just have to uninstall lose everything and start over?

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