Upgrade time again ... and again uncertainty abounds for general users

When upgrade time comes around general users have to step into an unfamiliar ‘administrator’ role. It’s hard to ask for technical help when the basic issue is ‘uncertainty’ and one doesn’t know the question. Explanations and guides are very helpful, but this time, despite a major reconfiguration to incorporate core elements of SLE, I don’t see much general guidance being offered. A lack of ‘Plain English’ clarity in the Release Notes doesn’t help. I find them ambiguous and jargon ridden. Seems I am not alone.

In Install/Boot/Login user microlinux writes: “The release notes are a bit laconic about the new repositories. Is there a more in-depth explanation of the respective roles of the new repos?” The wise responders address the narrow technical issue but (as is proper) provide no general overview or guidance.

SDB:System_Upgrade is clear about process and very well written but (necessarily) does not provide an overview or in depth explanations. openSUSE:Most annoying bugs says nothing about openSUSE Leap 15.3 - too early, perhaps.

In the past I have simply waited for three months or so and kept a watch on the technical forums. But that’s a bit haphazard. The lack of guidance on the change to ‘release server’ coding in the repo URL’s caused me unnecessary grief when upgrading from 15.1 to 15.2.

So, I have an issue for general chit-chat: where should a cautious general user go for a plain language overview of changes and issues arising, and guidance with this unfamiliar ‘part-time’ administrator role?

My first substantial contact with computing dates back to 1978. Had admins from 1980 through 1999. This was PITA. Worked as a Senior Consultant for Software Configuration Management from 2000 through 2003. Learning the basics of administration helped a lot, but admins still were PITA.

After retiring early I resumed computing in 2014 using mostly openSUSE. Being familiar with the essentials of Leap and Tumbleweed administration helps and saves a lot of time. No admins, no pain any more.

Their documentation was sloppy. It made a big leap forward with Leap 15.3: openSUSE documentation for both system administrators and desktop users: https://doc.opensuse.org/ When unsure always browse their documentation first. If still uncomfortable ask questions in the forum. Users are trying hard to help, improve your questions and come up with an answer.

Before considering an upgrade run a life system from an external drive: http://download.opensuse.org/distribution/leap/15.3/live/

As an alternative shrink one of your partitions and do a test install preferably on SSD: https://forums.opensuse.org/showthread.php/554703-Testing-a-new-distribution-The-same-procedure-as-everytime

From the view of the questions popping up in this Forum, it seems that, there are quite a few “difficult” issues with the initial phase of the Leap 15.2 to Leap 15.3 upgrade – at least in the first day or so following the release announcement …

  • Given the Beta testing, that shouldn’t happen.

Yes, I agree, the SDB articles “System upgrade” and “Offline upgrade” should be better published –

  • And, the “Startup Guide” could be enhanced with some pointers to performing a System Upgrade …

[HR][/HR]Reading the current “System upgrade” SDB, I’m a little bit worried about the following entry –

Note: the advice to remove extra repositories may be deprecated.

Most of the issues raised by attempts to upgrade a system, seem to be caused by repositories which do not have an Alias “repo-XXX” and, the repositories with either an Alias “repo-debug-XXX” or, an Alias “repo-source-XXX” …

  • In other words, I suspect that, a smooth upgrade needs to be executed with only the following repository Aliases activated –


Once the upgrade – executed either from a VT or, offline by booting an ISO image – has completed, then, and only then, can the additional repositories be activated and the associated packages upgraded.

May well be a Leap 15.3 quirk –

I did not try to upgrade (I always wait a few months at least to let others stumble into the problems ;)).

But are you sue that the Alias names of repos are now having significance outside the scope of a system?

Aren’t some of the problems due to the fact that people use the --releasver option in cases where the ${releasever} parameter is not in the repo’s URL as assumed by the usage of the option?

No such problems encountered so far with Leap 15.3: https://forums.opensuse.org/showthread.php/554703-Testing-a-new-distribution-The-same-procedure-as-everytime

BTW: I am eager to spread the word: https://www.heise.de/forum/heise-online/Kommentare/openSUSE-Leap-15-3-SLE-Kompatibilitaet-Podman-vorsichtige-Software-Updates/Plasma-5-18-Mit-Copy-Paste-zu-Plasma-5-21-90/thread-6764517/

I agree. The Reference Guide, in particular, is a thing of beauty. But it is still task focused; it does not provide an overview or offer explanations.

Perhaps the openSUSE Documentation would be more helpful to general users if there was an additional overview document that explained some of the background knowledge about the way openSUSE is designed and operates, that the writers of those guides assume ‘administrators’ already know.

The community already provides a wealth of ‘general user’ guides in the Howto/FAQ section of the forum and in the wiki pages - wonderful work - but there doesn’t seem to be a general explanatory guide to ‘upgrading’ that explains the process and the role of the administrator, and maps out some of the pit-falls and matters for decision.

p.s. I met my first computer (SILLIAC) in 1966. I’ve been working and playing with computers ever since. A DEC 8 in the 1980’s, CP/M [Hitachi Peach], apple DOS, MS DOS and OS/2. I discovered GNU/Linux in the mid 1990’s, first Debian, then Mandrake, then SuSE. I’ve been using SuSE iterations ever since, always as a dedicated general user, and always influenced by stability, ease of administration and the quality of published documentation. I have a vested interest in this.

I am not so sure a general user has to know what kind of changes a upgrade brings. For myself I am running Tumbleweed but I also administer my parents computer and that is running Leap. For that computer I do like you are doing and wait at least some months before making the switch so that almost all problems are ironed out. I never have the desire to know what changes on forehand, in practice a general user would not notice, at least my parents do not.

The problem with a “nice” list of issues is the time it will take to generate it and keep it up-to-date while there is bugzilla and most people will not see the bug. At the same time I wonder what users would do with that information.
If you are wondering, this is the current list of bugs for 15.3.

To support basic users I would like to see the upgrade should be further automated to the point that it is just pressing a button so there is no need for a ‘part-time’ administrator role. At the same time putting back a snapshot should be made even more user friendly so that if that basic user runs into a problem, he/she can at least go back to the previous working state.

Just wait a few months for this to smooth out… no rush is there?

Just upgraded a test system here, with just the standard openSUSE repos (no packman) all is fine aside from a dracut-cmdline-ask.service issue (as in it’s not in Leap), just fixed the script it was called from and all is good…

Indeed. Too much detail may be just as confusing as not enough. The list of ‘bugs for 15.3’ is quite daunting. But perhaps there is a happy middle ground - something like a ‘user manual’ approach, that provides enough context for a user to understand the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ and gives practical advice about the ‘how to’.

The openSUSE community and developers do a really good job with ‘how to’ (task focused) documentation. The SDB is awesome. But to find stuff a user has to have a clue about what to look for - that is the gap I am trying to understand.

I notice that the developers have created a survey page for feedback on users experience installing 15.3. I presume they want feedback on upgrading as well. The Roadmap says: Wed, Jun 2, 2021 Release retrospective survey is open; Wed, Jun 16, 2021 Collect feedback from the retrospective. The survey page is here.

I doubt that getting the mix right for all users is possible. Everyone has different requirements and understandings.
These forums (or IRC) are good for getting specific advice fir a given question.

The openSUSE community and developers do a really good job with ‘how to’ (task focused) documentation. The SDB is awesome. But to find stuff a user has to have a clue about what to look for - that is the gap I am trying to understand.

A good simple user guide…


Try The Unofficial Guide to openSUSE Leap 15.3: The purpose of this guide is to provide new users with everything they need to know to get started using openSUSE Leap as a home user/small office desktop operating system - quickly and easily.

Moving the Unofficial Guide to github and start versioning would be great.

The openSUSE community and developers do a really good job with ‘how to’ (task focused) documentation. The SDB is awesome. But to find stuff a user has to have a clue about what to look for - that is the gap I am trying to understand.

The wiki is still a pile of outdated and up to date articles of lower up to highest quality confusing new users. A living versioned and maintained index might be helpful. Github offers fantastic options for hosting one at https://github.com/openSUSE

Example of sources to be considered:

I did post a link to that already :wink:

I see. Worked on #12 previewing and revising it several times. When I submitted and reloaded yours was there already.

https://github.com/cb400f/opensuse-guide.org :wink:

The Aliases of the “base” Repositories are the default Aliases provided at Installation time – change them at your own risk …

  • The “${releasever}” construct should be present for the “baseurl=” of all the “base” repositories – but, not for “extra” repositories – which is why, they’re normally excluded from the 1st stage of an Upgrade …

 > pwd
 > grep -iE 'releasever|15.' *.repo

BTW, I notice that, the “System upgrade” SDB has been updated a day or so ago – and, the Leap 15.3 Release Notes …

I agree. I suppose I’m just pushing back against the tendency for so much of the community’s support work to be ‘task’ focused, vital though that is.

Thanks for reminding me about cb400f’s guide. I trust he is well. I have always found his work valuable.

Yes. That mirrors my experience. I like your proposal for a well engineered solution. I would be grateful for an old school standard librarian’s ‘index’ of key terms.

I do not fully understand how the wiki is meant to work, but I find it frustratingly hard to use. I find myself irritated by algorithms second guessing what is ‘associated’ and then I stumble upon a real ‘gem’. There is so much talent in this wonderful community.

Thanks. :wink: indeed!

Thanks for updated advice on the repositories issues, still a source of ‘confusion’ for me.

The user I quoted in the OP described the Release Notes as ‘laconic’ - a wisely chosen word. I found the original Release Notes well structured and technically useful, but ambiguous and jargon ridden to the point of obfuscation. Style matters. Anyone writing for publication needs a good editor.