Upgrade woes.

cygwin@cwilson.fastmail.fm cygwin@cwilson.fastmail.fm
Thu Nov 20 14:58:00 GMT 2008

Eric Roode wrote:
>     How amusingly recursive:  "It has always been the advice of the
> mailing lists that you should check the mailing lists before
> upgrading"  :-)

Somehow you found *this* list to complain to. On that same page, there
are two different *-announce lists. What did you think they were for,
wedding announcements?

>     I did not check the *-announce lists before running setup.  I did
> not know of their existence.  To me, mailing lists are for developers,
> groupies, and people with tech supp problems, not something to be
> subscribed to and monitored by ordinary users on an ongoing basis -- I
> have enough noise in my inbox as it is.

I don't subscribe to any of the lists. I use the on-line archives, or
gmane. You can too.  That way you can check the lists when you need to,
but not clutter your inbox.

The problem with googling is it takes a few days or weeks for new
information to make it into google's index. The on-line mailing list
archives are usually only 15 minutes or less behind current activity.
Unless you want to wait a few weeks, scanning the last day or so's
subject lines in the archives -- or running a search via gmane -- will
find more current results for your queries.

>     I do check www.cygwin.com before doing (what I think is going to
> be) a routine upgrade.  If there's nothing in the news there, I assume
> that what I'm getting is just an upgrade of existing packages that I
> already have installed.  Is that such a foolish assumption?

No. In fact, you can leave out the "If" qualifier. In general, the only
thing setup will do is upgrade what you already have. BUT...

>     The flaw in my cunning plan, it seems, is that www.cygwin.com is
> *never* updated, except to note an occasional upgrade to the DLL
> itself.

That's because the people with the ability to update the cygwin web page
are not the people who maintain and update individual packages -- and
there are far too many of the latter to grant such untrammeled access,
and far too many individual packages.  Any "update" web page would
either grow to unweildy size, "recent" updates would too quickly roll
off the page, and/or the information provided concerning each individual
update would be too terse to be useful, or too verbose to allow more
than one or two "updates" to be visible at a time.  AND, you probably
don't care about the latest "octave" or "subversion" update.
Fortunately, there is a already a solution to all of these problems: the
*-announce mailing lists and their on-line archives.

>  I guess I should also have been checking x.cygwin.com -- but
> even that only has a short mention of an upgrade, with a pointer to
> the announcement, which mostly talks about stuff that I do not know or
> care about: something called XCB, some "composite extension", some
> "XVideo extension", and so on. 

In other words, you're using something you don't understand -- but which
hasn't changed in over two years because there was no maintainer (BTW,
that's a /bad/ thing).  So, you've had years to "get used to" the way
that old version work(ed) -- by years' worth of trial and error,
apparently, as you never tried to educate yourself on exactly what you
were using.

Meanwhile the actual non-cygwin development of X rolled forward, thru a
MAJOR restructuring.  This restructuring and rewrite caused a few
headaches even over in linux-land -- but that was more than a year ago
for them, because we (cygwin) are so far behind.

So, when we finally catch up...we can expect the some of the same
headaches. And reasonable users with an ounce of curiosity -- or a
modicum of caution -- were all well-informed of the possibility.

Others, perhaps, were not so well informed.

Which is not to say that ANY specific headache was predicted, or
predictable -- or even preventable. If some *specific* problem were
predicted and preventable, Yaakov & Jon would have done so.  In fact,
they did.  There's a thousand things that /didn't/ go wrong.

> Yes, I should have followed the
> "upgrade instructions" section, and that would have helped, but would
> not have prepared me for the unholy mess that was to follow.

Counterfactual. IF you had followed the proper instructions, then
something different would have happened; we don't know exactly what, nor
 /how many/ things would have gone wrong in that hypothetical case.  Of
your complaints, most of them WERE addressed in the original
announcement message. Of the remainder, would one or two minor problems
qualify as an "unholy mess"?

There's also one basic computer-related common-sense policy that your
practices violate: if Adobe Premiere installs a bunch of files, and you
EDIT one of them -- unless it is a configuration file -- you can EXPECT
that Adobe Premiere will feel free to over-write the file on its next
upgrade. Premiere installed the file, it's not a user configuration file
-- it OWNS that file. Not you. Don't be surprised when your
"customizations" go poof.  If you want to customize a non-configuration
file, MAKE A COPY. Put it somewhere else. Edit THAT, and use it. That's
not a cygwin "problem"; you lost your customized startxwin.bat because

>>  Now, often you can get away with /not/ doing that, d
>> nothing bad will happen.  But if I ran setup, and saw 157 new packages
>> about to be upgraded...I might want to investigate a little before
>> clicking "continue".
>     Where do you see "157 new packages about to be upgraded"?  setup
> says no such thing.

You had xorg-* stuff installed. The upgrade process replaced those old
versions with a TON of new, smaller, more modular packages. But there
were a LOT of them. Your setup's chooser screen, in "Partial" view --
which IMO should be the default view for all but brand-new
installations, but isn't -- would show you the list of to-be-installed
packages. That list was LONG, for the X upgrade.

>     I have been making the assumption, apparently a stupid one, that
> when you run setup and don't choose to install anything new, it checks
> for upgrades to the stuff you have already installed, and goes ahead
> and patches what you have.

And that's exactly what happend. But, when the 6 or so "monolithic"
(old, out of date) packages were split into 282 new packages (yes, I
counted) that's a lot of updates. Now, the typical user like yourself
wouldn't get ALL 282 packages -- that's the point of the modularization.
Not ALL of them are now required [*]. The default "upgrade" for users of
the pre-existing monolithic X packages was somewhat smaller than 282
packages. I don't know if it was 157 exactly, but it was a VERY long list.

[*] maybe they should have been, for *existing* users of the old X
packages only. This would have avoided the "I used to have xlsfonts, and
now I don't" problem -- even though "xlsfonts" is truly an *optional*
part of the X distribution; X works just fine without that application.

>  I don't look to see how much new stuff
> there is -- why should I? 

You have now discovered the answer to that question. Blind upgrading --
whether cygwin, or Adobe Premiere, or Microsoft "automatic" updates --
is NEVER a good idea. The latter is actually far more dangerous than
doing so with cygwin. How long have you been using cygwin with
your...less than wise upgrade procedure...with no problems? I can't say
the same for Windows Update.

> I just click "next" and go.

I'm speechless. Do you also sign credit slips without looking to see if
they put the correct charge on it?

>  I did notice
> that the download and upgrade took much longer than usual.  Know what
> I thought? "Gee, there must be some major security fix to a whole lot
> of packages."

Updates are not always (in fact, rarely) security related. Packages
release new versions for all kinds of reasons -- new features,
non-security bugfixes. Heck, even marketing.

*Cygwin's* updates come along whenever (a) there is an update to the
"upstream" package, (b) the cygwin maintainer responsible for the
package notices, cares, has enough free time, etc, or (c) there is a
cygwin-specific reason (bugfix, packaging issue, etc.

The proper response was "gee, a lot of packages got updated
simultaneously. *I wonder what, and why*: -- and go find out. Preferably
before clicking "next".

>> But, as always, it's up to you. We'll happily refund all the money you paid.
>     I too contribute to the open-source community, and I have always
> disliked this snarky answer.  "It's free -- what did you expect,
> quality? Service?"  Well yes, I do.  You'll never get far in the
> closed-source-commercial vs open-source-community argument if you keep
> falling back on "it's free" as an excuse not to document, not to
> support.

Let's see: you (a) don't read the relevent material, (b) fail to follow
basic precautionary principles when upgrading software you don't
understand, and can't be bothered to learn about, (c) fail to ask for
support in a way that actually encourages people to help you, nor did
you (d) do what EVERY provider of open source software recommends when
having problems with software: *search the mailing list archives* -- as
most of your issues had already been addressed in the last week or so in
other message threads, or in the original announcement.

About the only thing you did right were (a) you sent your message to the
correct list -- and didn't spam all of them, (b) you avoided gratuitous
profanity and personal attacks (mostly; see below), and (c) you
explicitly listed your problems rather than "It's broken. Fix it". Oh --
and you have yet to succumb to the temptatation to say "you guys suck."
That's good, but it DOES prevent us from employing our favorite
rejoinder -- "No, we're just mean."

The point is, you are not in a great position to be criticizing us for
either quality or service. Further, your criticisms seem, to me at least
and perhaps others, to be an attack on the efforts of Yaakov and Jon
directly. Since the rest of us are just ecstatic that SOMEBODY has
FINALLY stepped forward to take over maintainership of the
long-abandoned X packages, we're all a little defensive of Yaakov and
Jon *on this issue* -- and are VERY willing to cut them, and the new X
packages, a lot of slack right now.  You, on the other hand, haven't
done much to earn similar forbearance.

The difference between paying customers and consumers of the gift
economy is this: paying customers can demand that the supplier do
everything for them, solve every problem for them, and the customer is
always right -- under financial threat of taking their future business
and their money elsewhere.  The supplier has very little leverage, and
no right to expect much of anything from the customer.

Contrasting that, providers in the gift economy can reasonably expect
that consumers meet them halfway.  You didn't -- and you got burned.  I
am (somewhat) sympathetic, but as the old aphorism says, "the burned
hand teaches best". You probably won't blindly upgrade ANY software
after this -- cygwin, Windows Update, or Adobe Premiere.  That's
probably a good thing.  Small comfort, of course.


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