Hi folks! This is a PSA about a fairly significant bug we’ve recently been able to pin down in Fedora 24+.
Here’s the short version: especially if your system has hybrid graphics (that is, it has an Intel video adapter and also an AMD or NVIDIA one, and it’s supposed to switch to the most appropriate one for what you’re currently doing – NVIDIA calls this ‘Optimus’), DON’T UPDATE YOUR SYSTEM BY RUNNING DNF FROM THE DESKTOP. (Also if you have multiple graphics adapters that aren’t strictly ‘hybrid graphics’; the bug affects any case with multiple graphics adapters).
Here’s the slightly longer version. If your system has more than one graphics adapter, and you update the
systemd-udev package while X is running, X may well crash. So if the update process was running inside the X session, it will also crash and will not complete. This will leave you in the unfortunate situation where RPM thinks you have two versions of several packages installed at the same time (and also a bunch of package scripts that should have run will not have run).
The bug is actually triggered by restarting
systemd-udev-trigger.service; anything which does that will cause X to crash on an affected system. So far only systems with multiple adapters are reported to be affected; not absolutely all such systems are affected, but a good percentage appear to be. It occurs when the
systemd-udev package is updated because the package
%postun scriptlet – which is run on update when the old version of the package is removed – restarts that service.
The safest possible way to update a Fedora system is to use the ‘offline updates’ mechanism. If you use GNOME, this is how updates work if you just wait for the notifications to appear, the ones that tell you you can reboot to install updates now. What’s actually happening there is that the system has downloaded and cached the updates, and when you click ‘reboot’, it will boot to a special state where very few things are running – just enough to run the package update – run the package update, then reboot back to the normal system. This is the safest way to apply updates. If you don’t want to wait for notifications, you can run GNOME Software, click the Updates button, and click the little circular arrow to force a refresh of available updates.
If you don’t use GNOME, you can use the offline update system via
pkcon, like this:
sudo pkcon refresh force && \ sudo pkcon update --only-download && \ sudo pkcon offline-trigger && \ sudo systemctl reboot
If you don’t want to use offline updates, the second safest approach is to run the update from a virtual terminal. That is, instead of opening a terminal window in your desktop, hit ctrl-alt-f3 and you’ll get a console login screen. Log in and run the update from this console. If your system is affected by the bug, and you leave your desktop running during the update, X will still crash, but the update process will complete successfully.
If your system only has a single graphics adapter, this bug should not affect you. However, it’s still not a good idea to run system updates from inside your desktop, as any other bug which happens to cause either the terminal app, or the desktop, or X to crash will also kill the update process. Using offline updates or at least installing updates from a VT is much safer.
The bug reports for this issue are:
Updates for Fedora 24 and Fedora 25 are currently being prepared. However, the nature of the bug actually means that installing the update will trigger the bug, for the last time. The updates will ensure that subsequent updates to
systemd-udev will no longer cause the problem. We are aiming to get the fix into Fedora 25 Beta, so that systems installed from Fedora 25 Beta release images will not suffer from the bug at all, but existing Fedora 25 systems will encounter the bug when installing the update.