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Gentoo: Updating and Cleaning

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Keeping your Gentoo Linux server up to date isn’t as straightforward as let’s say an Ubuntu box, where you would just run $ apt-get update && apt-get upgrade && apt-get clean for example.

Gentoo is far too flexible for a one size fits all approach. The commands outlined below come pretty close for daily use though:

We start by syncing the portage tree, required to obtain the latest packages. After which we update the “world” group (which would entail all packages currently installed) with a couple of options:

-u : Update

-D : Deep, includes updates to prerequisites for packages registered in your world favorites

-N : NewUSE, checks for changes to your USE flags (usually registered in /etc/make.confor /etc/portage/package.use)

-a : Ask, will show a dialog asking you of the packages to be merged are OK with you. Very useful when you invoke these commands manually, as I do every day. It gives you a last minute escape in case some crucial (like sys-fs/udev) or large (like sys-devel/gcc) package is about to be merged which you really aren’t in the mood for.

-v : Verbose, gives more useful output, including the selected USE flags for packages. (Which enables you to spot obvious errors early on).

–with-bdeps=y : Includes build time dependencies, and is useful for solving some common merge errors. (This can also be done by setting EMERGE_DEFAULT_OPTS="--with-bdeps=y" in /etc/make.conf)

That should suffice to update about every update-able package on your system.

Always make sure to read and follow the instructions that appear after the merge!
This is exactly why the second line is mentioned separately and isn’t concatenated after the first; It gives you opportunity to execute the required steps for crucial packages that might otherwise break your system.

After that we proceed with some basic cleanup:

  • Remove obsolete packages with emerge --depclean.
  • Check for broken dependencies/links with revdep-rebuildwhich will automatically fix the issues.
  • Delete obsolete distfiles (downloaded source packages, required to merge the binaries) for packages that no longer exist on the system with eclean-dist.

Running the sequence above on a regular schedule should ensure that you have a smooth running system!

Got improvements or comments on the procedure outlined above? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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