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Bug#406131: release-notes: Document how to do partial updates for users tight on space?

Package: release-notes
Severity: normal

Currently the release notes has a section related to how to check if you have
sufficient space to upgrade the system (with tips telling users how to make
up space if needed). However, there are some situations in which the user's
system might be tight on space and they need information on how to do
*partial* upgrades.

I have currently faced this situation in my laptop (which has *only* 4GB of
space dedicated to a Debian installation [1]) and I've had to make an upgrade
from an ancient etch to a recent etch, so it might be considered a
very large "upgrade" (I still had Xfree86, for example and had yet to make
the move to Xorg). It had to download ~690MB of packages to do the upgrade
and the system only has ~300MB free.

Unfortunately, apt/aptitude happily chews on all the available disk space (and
more) if you just say "Go ahead!" to an upgrade which you cannot fully
download to disk (and it is not intelligent enough to remove packages from
the cache if space is needed)

There's no indication on what steps should be taken to upgrade the system
under these conditions. I guess one mechanism would be to do partial upgrades
like this:

- upgrade only 'important' or 'standard' packages
- clean the package cache
- upgrade the X window system
- clean the package cache
- upgrade the desktop environment 
- clean the package cache
- dist-upgrade the rest of the system

Can we document this kind of suggestions? Or should we just tell the user in
this situation (i.e. to those which the documented tips are insufficient) to

a) run 'apt-get dist-upgrade' (would fail when the disk is
full) and 'apt-get clean' again and again until the system is upgrade


b) get hold of a temporary location (either through NFS or through an USB
hard disk) and make /var/cache/apt/ point there during the upgrade


c) use an NFS-mounted mirror repository for the upgrade (that would prevent
them being copied over to the local system and reduce disk space needs,




[1] It is probably, however, slightly bloated :)

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