[Article Proposal] Offline Updates

Last week, I was listening to the WAN show of Linus Tech Tips, and Luke talked about his experience of using Linux (Ubuntu LTS) on his work computer. He described the harrowing experience of running updates in the background, and then experiencing a hard crash that bricked his machine.

Now, luckily for us, Fedora Linux has a remedy against that since 2012; Offline Updates. Simply put, the system downloads the updates and then it restarts itself into a save-mode, where it can install the updates and then restart again. This prevents instabilities that can cause serious crashes.

Sadly, going through Reddit, and the discussions that followed Luke’s story, very few people actually seem to understand the importance of offline updates. Just this morning, Jupiter Broadcasting was discussing some of their Linux-grievances. One prominent thing that one of the speakers mentioned, was how Firefox can just randomly ask to be restarted. So people within the Linux world, both old and new, don’t seem to fully understand this.

So, let’s try to make some things clear using an article on Fedora Magazine.

Outline

  • Offline Updates
    • How it works
    • Why it’s important
    • Where it comes from
  • Updating a live system
    • Nothing bad happens
    • Firefox needs a restart
    • System crash
    • System brick
  • Conclusion

In the first part, I want to explain what it is and why it’s important. In the second part, I want to use common ‘issues’ as an example of this problem in action. Firefox is a very good application for this, since almost every Linux user I ever talked to has experienced the ‘Firefox must restart’ message.

Discussion

I think this could be a shorter article, and I’ll make sure to link to some detailed articles about the techniques behind the scene (systemd and Policy-Kit) but I do think that this could be an article for all ages, an technically speaking it’s not ever very Fedora related.

Additional reading

2 Likes

+1. I’d move this under the workflow category, but I don’t seem to be able to do that.

1 Like

Just noting that offline updates are not limited to Gnome Software/KDE Discover. All users can also use dnf offline-upgrade to do the same thing.

+1 I’ve opened Pagure card #80 for this article.

Let us know when you have started and we’ll move it to “in-progress”

Thanks