The perils of continuous upgrades

Posted on February 23, 2019 with tags debian. See the previous or next posts.

Funny downsides of living with Debian ☺

Many, many years ago when I moved my primary desktop to Linux I was overjoyed at the “continuous upgrade” path, and not having to reinstall things. Of course this is a much better proposition than having to every-so-often reinstall just to remove clutter, because it makes people (packagers/authors) think about long-term choices.

However, it has also some downsides. Case in point, harmless cruft, but still cruft…

About a year ago, as I was running regular a apt-get upgrade and for some reason was actually reading the output, when I saw this:

Warning: Old configuration style found in /etc/texmf/updmap.d
Warning: For now these files have been included,
Warning: but expect inconsistencies.
Warning: These packages should be rebuild with tex-common.
Warning: Please see /usr/share/doc/tex-common/NEWS.Debian.gz
Warning: found file: /etc/texmf/updmap.d/10tipa.cfg

I go and read the news file, and to my surprise—I thought this would have been a recent change—I see:

tex-common (3.7) unstable; urgency=low

  * updmap file handling changed
    …
    For developers:
    Since version 3 of tex-common, which conincides and requires
    TeX Live 2011 and upward, updmap now behaves differently then
    before: It reads *all* available updmap.cfg files. That means
    that the handling of updmap.d snippets in /etc/texmf/updmap.d
    has changed. Packages rebuild with tex-common >= 3 will not
    install anything in this directory.
   …
   Thu, 12 Apr 2012 07:53:27 +0900

So this was deprecated more than 5 years ago… When did this file get installed on the machine?

$ ls -l /etc/texmf/updmap.d/10tipa.cfg
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 295 Jun 19  2006 /etc/texmf/updmap.d/10tipa.cfg

So, at the end of 2017, I still had a configuration file that was 11 years old and was deprecated more than 5 years before. Fortunately the contents was irrelevant, but I’m curious, how much cruft there is that would go away on a fresh install with the exact same package list? Well, I won’t find out, because I don’t plan to reinstall ☺

I do wonder however, as workloads move to cloud, where it’s more likely to do fresh installs than upgrades, if Debian will continue to provide such long-lived support.

Next step, deciding if I still need /etc/xcdroast.conf, whose package was removed from the archive in 2012…