Updating Systems

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Updating Debian packages

A quick update can be done by

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade

For general installation, updates, and so on aptitude is a good choice.

Caveats

Anything that shouldn't be updated? Like stuff with custom patches? Does apt have a history of clobbering configs or anything?

cron-apt

We run cron-apt to give us warnings via root's email when packages need to be updated. This should be installed on every box. Here's the change you need to make to the configuration:

--- /etc/cron-apt/config.orig   2009-02-25 05:41:42.000000000 +0000
+++ /etc/cron-apt/config        2009-02-25 05:44:11.000000000 +0000
@@ -94,7 +94,7 @@
 #       output  (send mail when output is generated)
 #        always  (always send mail)
 #                (else never send mail)
-# MAILON="error"
+MAILON="changes"

 # Value: error   (syslog on error runs)
 #       upgrade (when packages is upgraded)

Updating kernels

apt-get update
uname -a                                                                # Figure out which kernel series this machine needs
apt-cache search kernel-image | grep somethingwhichidentifiestheseries  # Find the latest kernel in the series
apt-get install kernel-image-latestversion-series
shutdown -r N

so for example:

uberjoe@davros:~$ uname -a
Linux davros 2.6.8-2-sparc64 #1 Fri Jun 10 00:38:40 UTC 2005 sparc64 GNU/Linux
uberjoe@davros:~$ apt-cache search kernel-image | grep sparc64
kernel-image-2.6.8-2-sparc64 - Linux kernel binary image for UltraSPARC (sparc64) systems
kernel-image-2.6.8-3-sparc64 - Linux kernel binary image for UltraSPARC (sparc64) systems
uberjoe@davros:~$ sudo apt-get install kernel-image-2.6.8-3-sparc64
boring debian package installation stuff
uberjoe@davros:~$ sudo vim /etc/silo.conf
uberjoe@davros:~$ sudo shutdown -r now

Silo should be set up to load the new kernel magically. If not, some haxing may be required to get the new kernel to work. It's probably best to try and set it up like so:

root=/dev/hda2
partition=1
default=debian
read-only
timeout=100

image=/boot/vmlinuz
        label=debian
        append="UDEV_DISABLED=yes"
        initrd=/boot/initrd.img

image=/boot/vmlinuz
        label=Linux
        append="UDEV_DISABLED=yes"
        initrd=/boot/initrd.img
        
image=/boot/vmlinuz.old
        label=LinuxOLD
        append="UDEV_DISABLED=yes"
        initrd=/boot/initrd.img.old

This is more or less how debian has it set up by default, but with devfs turned off, because we don't need it. You might want to check which drive root is on. Debian should update the symlinks in /boot automagically, and all should be well.

Caveats

Anything tied to specific kernel versions?

The stock Debian stable kernels have a bug in the serial drivers that make the console on Ultra 5s unusable. We previously fixed this with a slightly later version of the package (2.6.8-16), but it looks like the security update (2.6.8-15sarge1) should have the console fix, along with a bunch of security fixes. I haven't tested this version yet.