To Update or not to Update?

Updating OpenSolaris should be straightforward. The documentation says that you need just to run following command:

$ pfexec pkg image-update

This way you'll get updated to latest bi-weekly bits (currently at build 97). If updates worked as advertised, it would be perfect, however I got burned several times during updates, so I would like to warn you before you waste your time with unsuccessful updates.

At first, read the release notes. Pay very special attention to the IPS instructions. These commands should be executed before you install any packages or perform updates:

    $ pfexec pkg refresh
    $ pfexec pkg install SUNWipkg@0.5.11-0.86
    $ pfexec pkg install entire@0.5.11-0.86
    $ pfexec pkg install SUNWipkg-gui

Why is this important? The version of IPS distributed with 2008.05 had several major bugs. I don't want to go much into details about these bugs, all you need to know is that they are really ugly and can even cause your system to become unbootable. So run these updates.

Second, before running the pkg image-update command read the update notes. Again, these are very important and if you try to run the update directly from 2008.05 install your system may become unbootable (luckily the old boot environment will still exist but you won't be able to boot into the new boot environment, so you waste a lot of time - these updates are not exactly small).

It is NOT possible to update your system using the Package Manager GUI so you need to use the command line to do the big update.

Finally, a word of warning. I updated my system several times. Many other bloggers reported successful updates to latest builds. I guess they don't use that much of the software, because there have been many issues in recent builds - e.g. the package manager wouldn't start, Firefox wouldn't start, linker wouldn't link, etc. At the end I decided to stick to build 86 (the original OpenSolaris 2008.05 install) because I couldn't get my system ready for a presentation - there was always something not working.

Perhaps all these issues have been resolved in recent builds - I certainly hope so (and yes, I did report some bugs related to updates). If you are just a regular user of OpenSolaris and you do not want to spend your time with troubleshooting some of the issues that may happen after update, my suggestion to you is NOT to update. Wait for the next release (coming soon - in November). On the other hand if you want to help the OpenSolaris project and have some time available to test latest builds and report bugs, you'll want to run the latest bits.

We certainly want as many people as possible trying the latest updates, but from what I saw in other blogs it looked like everyone should update to latest bits. I recommend to think twice before doing so, you might get burned. I think upgrading just to the next major release is fine for regular users of OpenSolaris and even though running "pkg image-update" looks simple enough things can go wrong. You have been warned :)


I too have been burned from updates. I am currently running build 95. These issues question Sun's decision to roll their own package manager. I would rather have seen the usage of an existing and mature manager than deal with these bad bugs.

What is also frustrating is how slowly the repository is updated. It took many weeks after Firefox 3.0 was released for it to appear. Amazing the repository \*still\* has Netbeans 6.0.1, when 6.1 is the latest stable and 6.5 is almost out.

Posted by Abraham Tehrani on September 16, 2008 at 07:50 AM GMT #

FYI, NetBeans 6.1 is now in the repository. See . Note, be sure to run "pfexec pkg refresh" in order for it to show up.

Posted by Brian Leonard on September 16, 2008 at 09:06 AM GMT #

I am finding that pkg image-update is working better now than it was 4 months ago even with my intermittent Internet in Cambodia. It appears I no longer have to start over from the beginning whenever I have a power cut or the ISP drops out.

I think the Image Packaging System now shows some promise. Congratulations to the developers on such great work in a short period of time.

Posted by Paul Harper on September 18, 2008 at 09:25 AM GMT #

There is no such question. Of course everyone should try updating to the newest bits both with pkg and packagemanager GUI. Those apps are back published, so if you are running any version of OpenSolaris it should work.

There were some breakages and major bugs for certain builds and I probably won't be wrong writing that there still are/will be, but once people will report those on we will have chance to fix them and finally bits will become very stable.

If something will go wrong during image-update... Well it's not the end of the world. The current mechanism is that image-update is not working on your live system it creates snapshot of your working system and modifies that snapshot, which means that you will newer screw your system completely. The worst thing that can happen is that you will download loads of data and at the end you will discover that the updated system is not working. Well it's not so good, but you can always choose to boot to the old version (before image-update) of your system from the GRUB menu. Thanks to ZFS!

One more thing, please read release notes. One minute of reading can save some of your time.

And one more thing. Do you know what I am currently thinking about? If you will guess I am willing to buy a pint of Guinness for you :) It's working both way, if you are unhappy or have some wishes about IPS/IPS GUI functionality don't wait for us to guess what you want/think, probably it will never happen. We are happy to hear all comments on pkg-discuss or please log a bug with enhancement wish :)

Posted by Michal Pryc on September 18, 2008 at 03:01 PM GMT #

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