failing like never before


Mirror, Mirror, Who’s the Oldest of Them All?

I'll admit, that my Arch updates haven't exactly been occuring with religous regularity, but I never allowed more then a month at most to pass between full system updates on my Arch machines". But today, when I decided to do a full update I was surprised to find that all my packages were already update. Especially since I remember seeing the same message on the last update. Some digging through my log files revealed that the last time one of my system updates actually updated something, was in August of last year. Which means that four months have passed without my system actually being updated. Oh sure, I issued a system update command pretty regularly every few weeks, but no packages were ever updated.

This is Not Good.

Some more digging was required, and it was revealed that the mirror I've been using,, hasn't been synced to the Arch repository in a very (very) long time. This is also Not Good. But perhaps even more worrying then Virgina Tech's laxness, is my laxness and unawareness. How could I have not notice that various programs on my laptop were several versions old, or that my system upgrades were never doing anything!

So I am doing a massively huge upgrade right now, and I fully expect it to wreck serious hell on my system. But at least that's better then walking around completely oblivious to the various known security holes on my laptop.

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  1. Hi. I read your (significantly) earlier post titled “My Time with Arch” where I believe you expressed reluctance about continuing to go through the hassels of maintaining Arch Linux, and I’m wondering: are you still using Arch? I used Arch Linux for 2 years, switched to Mac OS for another 2 years, and now I am looking again to install a Linux distro over the holidays in order to start web developing. I feel extremely pulled to setup an Arch system since I know it so well and since I have a lot of fond memories of the community, but I also remember vividly how much time I used to spend tweaking, configuring, and otherwise fixing my system. So I’ve been thinking about installing and using Debian stable instead, and I wanted to ask: does Debian stable tend to break if you install individual packages or sets of packages from sid? As a web developer, it would often be good to have the latest version of a web browser installed.

    And thanks for the great posts, even though I’m the only one who has commented on them.

  2. Hey Bijan,

    I messed around with Fedora for a while but I’ve ended up going back to Arch, and I’m even running it at work now. There were a couple Arch users at my university and seeing their success and happiness at running Arch, really help convinced me give up the slowness of Fedora. I find that as long I keep my system up to date with a “pacman -Syu” every week, and stay away from installing versions of packages that can conflict with each other, I rarely have any issues (i.e. . The biggest issue I’ve had so far, was upgrading to a new kernel that one of the proprietary tools we use at work doesn’t support (which really isn’t Arch’s fault).

    I often have to do a lot of work with wireshark and analyzing network traffic at work, and I have found that “bigger” distos like Fedora will often have lots of background processes that are running and calling out to the network when I don’t want them to. Arch tends to give me a little better control over what is going on.

    Honestly, if you want the newer packages, Debian stable is probably not the best way to go. You’ll probably end up fighting the distribution a lot to get the new libraries to support the newest browser. You might have more luck with Debian Testing. Ubuntu might even be worth a whirl. (Or you could forgo using the package system for some stuff, and just build from source when you want the latest and greatest.)

    Thanks for reading and commenting! Nice to know sometime reads my blog.

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