[PC-BSD Testing] Rolling release criticism

Kris Moore kris at pcbsd.org
Tue Dec 17 07:28:20 PST 2013

On 12/16/2013 20:53, Claudio L. wrote:
> Hello,
> It's been a while since the switch to a rolling release, and now
> looking back I can see things that are going well and things that not
> so much.
> We used to have more stability, and the developers more time to test
> the packages. Now with the rolling release it seems nothing gets tested.
> Here's my main frustration with the rolling release:
> 1) I'm spending 40 minutes every 2 weeks or less, applying patches to
> the OS. That's a lot of time I could dedicate to "using" the operating
> system (and for whatever reason, updates are very slow)
> 2) A while ago, when we switched from 9.1 to 9.2, the Conversations
> plugin for Thunderbird stopped working, now I can't use it on PCBSD
> anymore (to this day I don't know why, but it fails on all my
> machines, both upgraded and fresh-installed).
> 3) Last weekend, I applied updates to one of my machines. After that,
> flash wasn't working on any browser. I had to stop what I was doing
> and google how to fix it. No big deal, it works now.
> 4) Yesterday, I applied more updates, and when I was going to get to
> work, VirtualBox no longer starts any of my VM's (it errors something
> about permissions), so I couldn't get anything done.

This seems to be fixed as of the latest package set for 9.2 which went
out today.

> 5) Today, I applied updates to a PCBSD VM I have on a laptop, and
> turns out I'm gettting "sqlite: database disk image is malformed
> (pkgdb.c:1274)", and no updates are possible anymore.
I think you can remove the /var/db/pkg/repo*.sqlite files and then run
"pkg update -f" to re-checkout the repo database.

> What's happening? I'm not using 10.0 because I wanted a more stable
> OS, one where I can start Qt Creator and do some work, read some
> emails, use a browser and run a couple VM's. Only Qt Creator works,
> the other things are somewhat broken right now.
> I'm a fan of PCBSD, but it's getting hard to use it as my main OS when
> basic things keep breaking down.
> I think it's time to think of a way to prevent this from happening.
> Maybe there should be some sort of automated unit testing for things
> that are included in the basic install? Something that can be run
> before issuing the packages to make sure things don't break?
> Perhaps twice a month updates is too fast, maybe it's better to do
> updates monthly? or bi-monthly? That would give more time to check the
> packages.
> I don't know, just throwing ideas in the air to see if things can get
> better.
> Claudio

I think this is something we may need to consider. The biggest problem
I'm having are these:

* Churn in PKGNG (The 1.2.x series which went in recently broke almost
all our infrastructure)
* Churn in the ports tree (Broken ports, updates which don't work ala
VirtualBox as you mentioned)

So the question becomes, if we do a bi-monthly update or monthly, how do
we test / ensure that all 23k packages are working properly? Just
because I'm getting a successful build here, does not mean they function
properly. I may need to do two tracks of packages, one which we update
infrequently, but another which we push out more aggressively for testing.

Kris Moore
PC-BSD Software

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