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Old 06-19-2006, 02:10 PM   #1
JacekZ
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Registered: Sep 2005
Location: Notts, England
Distribution: Debian 6
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Wanted - YUM Update strategy for home user


Hi,
Can anyone suggest a YUM update strategy for a home user (FC5). The automatic option runs at 4 am when my PCs are turned off, and the downloads are huge so I worry about the ISP data capping my usage were I to use that. Manual updates are better, as I can do them say only once a week or month - I have no idea how often I should do this. But they are still large downloads and very slow. I've read in some places people suggest reviewing security newsletters to pick what to update, it is security that makes me think that I should update, but as a home user I don't want to have to get involved in making such decisions and picking from lists etc. Believe it or not I was attracted to Linux because I felt it could be simpler to maintain than windows. By the way, my PC sits behind the FC5 firewall and a network router hardware firewall with packet filtering and nat - so should I worry? And as a home user the isp rotates my ip address as well. But having 'grown up' on windows with updates etc I assume I should update things.

I think I could write a script to update the internet and email apps that I use, to limit the amount downloaded when I do update, but is that enough? I'm not sure I know how to identify the kernel, but if I did, would that be enough? It is a shame that YUM packages don't have a security tag so you could just say: 'yum update security items only'. Or is that possible after all?

I'm looking for an easy quick way to update 2 PCs at home, using the cache on one to prevent downloading twice. Probably I'm asking too much, but as I was drawn to Linux in part by the idea of consolidated program management in YUM it is a shame that the update facility seems a bit awkward for home users.

Any helpful suggestions out there?

Thanks
Jacek.
 
Old 06-19-2006, 02:24 PM   #2
b0uncer
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No, you're not asking for too much. The updates are of course a good idea; there is no way, software nor manual, to keep you off trouble with only one trick. Security means keeping up and having eyes open every moment.

I'm using apt myself (on Ubuntu), and Yum is a bit more strange to me (I've only used it about 10 times or so, and only normal manual updates). But the caching first: you could update one of the machines normally, and the default settings should keep the packages in some cache dir (unless you're configured yum to delete the packages after installation); then you could configure your other machine's Yum reposities so that they reside on the harddisk of the first machine; this should be quite easy, the only difficult part is sharing the HD over ethernet, but I assume you can do that via NFS or Samba with only little trouble, if at all.

The update intervals are a question of your taste; I myself do updating once or twice a week, maybe, not every day. Sometimes it takes more, sometimes I update twice a day if I feel so (like when Gnome 2.14 was released, and first time I tried updating didn't provide me the new version ) when it comes to security, as a home user you don't have as much to be afraid as some business user could have, but it's a good idea to keep security up anyway. Doing updates, say, three times a month is ok if you ask me (opinions may differ, but hey - you can do manual updates anytime you want or feel it's needed). Pick up some time of the day when your pc is up and running, perhaps early in the morning or a bit later in the afternoon, when you're doing something else, if you can. Depending on your internet connection's speed, the updates shouldn't eat that much time at a time, so even if you had to do them while working it's not as bad as updating Windows (I proved this today again, Windows update freezed my whole laptop).

I'm sure you can tell Yum which reposities to use, and hopefully in the command line; if you could tell it to only update from reposities that contain security updates (Ubuntu has separate reposities for security packs), then you would only get security updates that would take less time than a complete update. This way you could do security updates a few times a week, if not daily, and a more comprehensive update once or twice a month (this is how I'd do).

I'd say you should consider reading the Yum documentation through to see how you can define the used reposities, and if it's possible to tell it in the command line (like "yum update --reposity=xxxx" way), then build a small shell script that you would schedule via cron, for example. If I've learnt something, then it's that there's nothing really impossible when it comes to common things, like updating software, some things just need a bit more inspection.
 
Old 06-19-2006, 05:53 PM   #3
JacekZ
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Thanks B0uncer,
I've looked through the yum man and the fedora guide to it, it says you can keep the cached files (default is they get deleted) but accessing them from another computer over ethernet is not covered. Apart from sharing the cached files I can't see why anyone would keep them, the guide says it speeds things up but since the cached files once installed are effectively 'yesterdays files' why keep them? I am assuming that the updates are entire packages rather than just patches, so apart from headers I can't see there'd be much speed gain - obviously there's something not explained in the manuals.

Rather than have shares I'd rather use ssh or something like that but I guess I could share the cache as it is probably simpler. It would probably say in the guide if you could use a ssh style address for the cache location. Choosing what to download though is the biggie for me, I've had lots of request from my good Wife to spend less time on the PC, and frankly a lot of the package names are very unfamiliar to me! I wonder if there are any Fedora users who have an easy quick way to do updates they can pass on. It may be that I'll just go for the whole downloads but I can't believe that the people who run the repositories really want to encourage that - imagine if lots more people used Linux, there'd be a strong incentive to create less traffic.

Jacek
 
Old 06-22-2006, 01:04 AM   #4
b0uncer
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Hmm..well I don't see any particular reason why it couldn't use ssh, except that ssh would ask you for a username and password, and that's something Yum probably will not do. Yes, sharing the cache is the easiest way, if you ask me.

The reason why I would keep the files in the cache is that if you reinstall some packages, you don't need to download them again. I have no idea if there are some packages that need to be reinstalled if some other package gets installed, but in this kind of situation it would speed things up having them on your own HD. Now that I mentioned that myself, I remember trying to install something on Fedora Core 4, from the web, and it asked me for the installation cd number x (was it 3?), and didn't want to proceed before I insterted the disc (which I did not have, for I think it's kind of a dummy thing having some install discs around when all the packages can be obtained from the net). This is the situation where it would speed things up, but if you ask me, it's just a waste of space keeping the cache for more than few days.

But does Fedora web site (or RedHat) have a page, like they used to, where the newest security problems were announced and updates recommended? I mean they would be exactly the packages you would want to download often, like every day. And didn't the old "RedHat Update Manager" (is it still in Fedora? The small button in the panel that tells you you've got updates ready to download?) have some options for what you download (security fixes etc.)?

You also _could_ do some automation through scripting and some home-made-magic like create a small piece of shell script that would download, at suitable times, new updates to your harddisk but not install them; then you could use some software (I think iptables would do) to limit the connection speed of the updates-script so that it would not disturb your daily work, just run in the background, silently, by itself. Then you could also use cron - or manually even - to start the actual update operation that would pick the already-fetched downloads from your harddisk and install them. This way you would only need to know what you want to download ("everything"?), and let your system do the job silently. The key parts are doing the job in the background, scheduled, and limiting the particular connection speed so it could run all the time the pc is up and running without interfering normal actions.
 
  


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