Debian wheezy: dpkg/dselect

Been a long time since last report. And there are some good reasons for that. Debian wheezy has progressed at a slower pace, with mostly incremental updates. On the bright side, there has not been any real breakage in the last two weeks. Iceweasel 4 (still from is up to RC1, and it has been running great. packages are no longer packaged. Actually, they have been converted to empty transitional packages to ease the upgrade to LibreOffice. And more than 60 new Perl modules have found a way to wheezy, Perl packaging team is certainly doing a great job.

After almost two years, I bit the bullet and upgraded my dpkg/dselect to the newest version It is no longer forcing me to install two dozens of packages that i don't want, and that was the mandatory requirement for me to allow upgrade. Together with new dpkg/dselect, I've now been able to unhold a few other packages, like ntp, cron etc... I currently have no packages at hold, which is great.

Other improvements I noticed after the upgrade are much faster "Reading database..." stage during upgrades. That may or may not have been the result of smaller files in /var/lib/dpkg directory (available and status textual databases). Obviously the format changed somewhat.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to the upgrade, too. The most important to me is that I can't see new packages now. That is, the fresh new packages that has just entered the distribution for the first time are not reported as such by dselect. Those few dozens of Perl modules are the last set of new packages I've seen before I upgraded dselect, now I'm blind. I don't know if this is still considered as a bug and planned to be reinstated in the future. Or is the functionality gone for good? Raphael, if you're reading this, please comment.

One other thing I noticed is that during the update stage, all package lists get downloaded unconditionally all the time. But, as it happens also when doing 'apt-get update' that looks more like an apt-get bug. I don't know if having Acquire::PDiffs "false"; directive in /etc/apt/apt.conf.d provokes it somehow, but I had that configuration item for a long time without any adverse effects.



The speed improvement you noticed is because we are reading the files in /var/lib/dpkg/info/ in the order they are placed on your disk. The format did not change at all.

Oh, well, I meant the format of /var/lib/dpkg/status (and possibly the available file, but I'm not 100% sure about that one). IIRC, the status file was twice as big before the upgrade. But, you're right, the slowest part was parsing /var/lib/dpkg/info, that's for sure. I'm glad you nailed that one, the speedup is very noticeable.

Now, if I could also see new packages as they enter distro, this dselect would be perfect, the best ever. ;)

I've also noticed that I get "Hash Sum Mismatch" (or similar error, during update stage) relatively often now. Though I didn't yet properly investigated that issue, it could possibly be because of the particular mirror I'm using has some problems, or apt-get has introduced some new bug, I really don't know yet.

I guess that all perfectly explains what living on bleeding edge means, you get to discover all kinds of interesting bugs before others do. :)