"Auto Update" vs "Breaking after long time without updates"

Hello,

I have a problem in decision how to choose a distro for my grandparents etc.

One Manjaro system breaks because of "lack of updates for >6 months. Also had that problem in one of my machines that was lying around for quiet a long time.
I wanted to fix that by integrate auto updates, but then I read in this forum that it may and will break the OS also.

Before I now test it with auto updates and itll end in breaking again, I want so ask you, how to handle updates on computers that may experience a lack of “users that update regularly, but still use the computer regularly every week” or “users that dont use the pc for months”.

Im aware that the second one may be only prevented by dont let it happen.

Thank you so far,

Peter

Managed updates.
Someone with the technical ability to do the updates should see to it as often as possible.
A few months wont be disastrous.
But, whether by fault of such long periods, or in the normal upkeep of the rolling distro (see: manual intervention such as .pacnew files, etc), they will likely require someone with the know-how to manage them.
The more promptly the better of course.
You can even work out something like an ssh session to do it remotely.
(conversely this could be leveraged to ‘clean up’ any messes done by user or automatic update)

At the point that any manual intervention is out of the question and/or updating is impossible with more than a few months in between … it might be prudent to look at a another distro.

That all said … there arent all that many extra problems introduced by waiting - its more that they are compounded (along with, you know, the waiting itself and the security holes that are left unpatched, etc).
If you absolutely need to wait 6 months between updates … well … you can treat the system like a frozen distro that way - you just wont be able to install new software in the interim.
(as you must update before installing new packages, or else you can end up in a partial-upgrade state which is equal to broken)

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The nature of the beast is such that Manjaro should be updated regularly; especially due to it being a rolling disribution.With all due dilligence I’d have to agree that a more user-friendly distribution might be in order. Look for something simple, comparitively easy to manage, and with the least complication.

With respect ongoing management, I have nothing to suggest, except to handle it yourself. Expecting the grandparents to update the OS is reasonable, however, what happens when there’s a real problem? Will they know what to do? If not, I’m guessing it falls back on you, anyway.

Thinking of it from another perspective: Making a commitment to perform those updates yourself (each fortnight, for example) has the added benefit of allowing more quality time to spend with them.

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You don’t. Install Linux Mint and be done with it. I’m sure your grandparents won’t mind if they don’t have latest mariadb etc at disposal.

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How does Linux Mint handle major upgrades? On the website there is a note:

Upgrades from one major version to the next are usually more complex. They can take up to a few hours. They can require a certain level of knowledge and experience from the user.

Thats worse than rolling release, because that forces problems and/or reinstall?

So, Ill have to ensure regular updates. Im going to develop a workflow for it. Thank you.

I think the words grandparents and rolling release arch based distro are mutually exclusive. Even if you commit supporting it once a month for the updates. Sooner or later it will go wrong. You will be on vacation, or the update will break something and you will not have the time to fix it on site because you only visit the grandparents for an hour and have other stuff to do…or you move to another country and everything breaks.
Trust me, been almost there, done almost that. Choose something that practically does not require maintanance. Ubuntu LTS for example.

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Oi, I’m a grandparent.

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We are currently working on a new approach for a system which needs to be really solid with updates and also should work without updates if the user wants that so.

What does this mean?

  • the OS system is more or less static and ships without any package manager is however based on the classic packages by Manjaro Linux
  • applications get only served via flatpaks so almost any normal application a user wants can be sourced from flathub thru our graphical Software manager
  • User data is stored in a regular basis and the OS feels like a normal Linux OS
  • When you want to update your base OS you can do that by choosing an update channel which will provide you an image of the OS. This way you can choose whenever you want to update or not.
  • This also means the apps, user data and base OS are decoupled from each other

This will make it super easy to maintain or not. Simply as you like.

Those who want to tweak or remove base applications shipped with the base OS image it might not be the right option. Those can simply fallback to the regular OS. We also saved the ALPM database of each OS update, so if really wanted those installations can be converted back to regular versions of Manjaro Linux.

We will see when and if we might publish that approach beside our new upcoming Hardware project on which that approach is used for the OS powering the device.

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Sounds great. Then I dont have to look for a different distro, because of stability(for my case).

applications get only served via flatpaks so almost any normal application a user wants can be sourced from flathub thru our graphical Software manager

So AUR packages arent possible?

We will see when and if we might publish that approach beside our new upcoming Hardware project on which that approach is used for the OS powering the device.

In the end, it could be possile that these features are exclusive only for directly bought Manjaro-Hardware? (“Paywall”)

AUR packages are not possible as those need ALPM to function. The initial goal is to test this new approach on one hardware device to see how to optimize it. It is designed for a special use case. Sure it can be adopted to other use cases and enhanced by profiles. Since we develop it as a company for another company we have to see on how we might publish it for other devices or even open it up for the public.

Having a solid system and the option to update when desired without the need to check what dependencies might have changed is a growing use case. However that take time and development effort plus dedicated support. Lets see how it goes.

Ok lets see how i goes.
I have one more question for my understanding. Why isnt it possible to mark package updates states from Manjaro as a milestone like every month or so.

And when a computer havent been updated for a longer time (last update 10/2018), it will brought to the nearest milestone that is needed. Maybe 12/2018. From this state to the next one, maybe 06/2019 → 12/2020 → … until today 10/2023.

Like it would happend anyway, while its lifetime with regular updates. (Because in my case, with regular updates I have systems that are 9 year old and I never had an issue)

Why isnt this possible or is it the amount of work that isnt realistic?

Because Manjaro is a rolling-release distribution. What you are describing is a fixed-point-release distribution, or possibly a semi-rolling distribution. And they do exist, but Manjaro is not one of them.

here is some more info …

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Or, there is always Windows Home Edition [enter colour preference here].

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Haha, me too.

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Your grandparents do not need a rolling release distro. Just use an Ubuntu LTS release or something like that. Ubuntu 22.04 LTS will be supported until April 2027, no major update required until then.

The current Debian 12 will arguably be stable until the next major release. However, there are always issues to resolve between major releases, or major updates. Debian is easy enough to maintain, and has the widest availability of Linux applications. In general, a rock solid system; but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it in the OP’s situation.

Simply indicating a support cycle might suggest a distribution will be trouble-free; while potentially leading the OP up the proverbial creek without a paddle at some future date; if regular maintenance isn’t carried out.

Also, grandparents are often more savvy than they are given credit for. It’s possible they have the aptitude but not the patience to bother with updating their systems; when they have grandchildren to do it for them.

It’s very simple. If they’re not capable of maintaining a rolling release system like Manjaro themselves then it’s not for them. If they are then why is he asking these questions?

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That much isn’t in dispute. Why do you suggest it was?

Perhaps to avoid extra work; I don’t know; anything is possible, and we have no information to the contrary except that the maintenance isn’t being done. In any case, the comment was anecdotal at best; surely you recognized that.