General Upgrade Procedure

Of course, you’ll have to periodically upgrade other pieces of your system. As discussed in the previous section, it’s usually easier and best to upgrade only those applications you need to upgrade. For example, if you never use Emacs on your system, why bother keeping up-to-date with the most recent version of Emacs? For that matter, you may not need to stay completely current with oft-used applications. If something works for you, there’s little need to upgrade.

Modern Linux systems provide various ways of upgrading software, some manual (which ultimately are the most flexible, but also the most difficult), others quite automated. In this section, we’ll look at three different techniques: using the RPM package system, using the Debian package system, and doing things manually.

We’d like to stress here that using packages and package systems is convenient, and even if you are a power-user, you might want to use these techniques because they save you time for other, more fun stuff. Here is a short summary of the advantages:

  • You have everything that belongs to a software package in one downloadable file.

  • You can remove a software package entirely, without endangering other packages.

  • Package systems keep a dependency database and can thus automatically track dependencies. For example, they can tell you if you need to install a newer version of a library in order to run a certain application you are about to install (and will refuse to remove a library package ...

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