Distribution Upgrades and Version Control
2010-06-07 6 Comments
I have been alternating between 2 partitions for installations, to always keep one working system while overwriting the outdated one with the newest release. It might be worth a thought to explicitly encourage / support this approach.
This time it took a month until I actually made the switch, going from Ubuntu 9.10 to 10.04. A pile of custom settings and manually build software made me reluctant.
A journal of configuration changes could help a bit, but would be more interesting for system administration in general.
If I remember correctly, there’s already the option to import emails and settings for Evolution and at least bookmarks for Firefox during installation. That’s nice, but not enough. Handling this on an application-specific basis will likely always mean that this stays incomplete. It’s also not exactly reliable, as I found out once, where I would have wanted to use the settings of the installation to be replaced with the new one. Yeah, I know what and how to backup, but just imagine you would have to explain all that to a not so technical minded user …
There should be backup my settings and matching import features. In the case of an email client like Evolution, it would help if emails were stored as separate files, so they could be backed up and restored with other data, easily.
What if installing a distribution release would be like creating a (shallow) clone of a repository? You could commit your edits to configuration files and thus have a log of the changes. You could generate a change-set, do an upgrade and apply it and have all your customizations restored, as far as possible. With a list of the changes that can’t be applied anymore, so you know what you have to investigate or simply live with.