Installing updates with apt-dater

Installing updates requires root (ocfroot group). Besides that, anybody should feel free to install updates at any time. Generally it is quite safe, though you might want to keep an eye on important things to ensure they start again after being updated (MySQL, LDAP, and Kerberos are the common offenders).


We install updates using apt-dater. We wrap it in a script that builds a list of hosts from LDAP and sends a summary email to root.

To install updates:

  1. Make sure the desktops are not suspended, and that you aren't trying to install updates near a 15-minute boundary when the desktops auto-suspend. See lab-wakeup to wake up the desktops prior to updating.

  2. From supernova, run:

    sudo apt-dater-ocf

    This will send an email to root with a list of packages to be updated. Glance over the list to make sure there are no obvious problems (for example, if it's trying to upgrade an entire system or install every available backport, which has actually happened before).

    Once apt-dater opens, proceed to the next step.

  3. Select the "Updates pending" row at the top, and hit u. You'll be asked if you wish to upgrade the entire group. Press y to confirm.

  4. All the hosts will now be in the "Sessions" category. Expand it (select then hit enter), then attach to each host one-by-one (hit a when you're over a host). You'll attach to a tmux session where the updates are being installed.

    In each session, wait for the updates to be installed, then press C-b q. If "errors" are found, you'll be asked to review them before proceeding.

    These are full tmux sessions, so you can, for example, use Ctrl-B, D to detach if your current session is taking a while.