lfs update

Jeroen Coumans jeroen at linuxfromscratch.org
Sat Jan 10 03:34:12 PST 2004

Hi michael. You said the following on 01/10/04 03:19:
> my mandrake system will (or rather would) update itself in a very 
> convenient way,which makes me think how would that be with LFS,do you 
> wait for a new version and rebuild everything (oh please not again) from 
> scratch ?The fact that mandrake update will present a list of packages 
> in need of revamping practically every week leads one to suspect that 
> one might be running a dismally outdated system with LFS if one doesn't 
> do anything about it..

This question has been asked so many times that I'm creating a FAQ from 

You probably know this already, but LFS is not a distro in the 
traditional sense. It's primary goal is: "teaching people how a Linux 
system works internally. " (quote from 
http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/lfs/whatislfs.html). While this means 
you have great control over your system ("Your distro. Your rules."), it 
also has the drawback of having to take care of updating it yourself.

If you've built an LFS system and have extended it to become your 
primary system, the best thing to do is to decide on an upgrade policy. 
Do you want to keep the latest version of every package? Then be 
careful, because you're going to be burned. I recommend slight 
conservatism when upgrading to keep a healthy system. A general rule of 
thumb which works for most people is: only upgrade packages if they have 
security fixes. Subscribe to lfs-security and LWN to keep yourself 
informed about security fixes. Another rule of thumb is: don't upgrade 
the toolchain (gcc, glibc and binutils) unless you're going to rebuild 
your entire system. These packages form the heart of your LFS system, 
destroying them means destroying the ability to compile packages or even 
run binaries.

Remember that updating packages is at your own risk. LFS takes great 
care to present a stable mix of packages which are compatible all the 
way up to BLFS so you can compile OpenOffice.Org and Java (which are 
real dinosaurs to compile). This means that your LFS system may get 
slightly outdated but ensures compatibility and stability. You can 
compare this to Debian's stable and testing releases, although LFS 
stable is generally bleeding-edge compared to other distro's.

In general it is safe to upgrade single packages; they'll just overwrite 
the old contents. Package managers take care of uninstalling old 
versions, and it's really convenient to have some sort of package 
management system in place. Have a look at the hints; there are several, 
ranging from RPM to DEB to TGZ (Slackware) to Checkinstall to package 

A final comment: what package instructions should you use when updating 
a package? In general, you can use the standard LFS instructions, 
although you shouldn't blindly assume they will apply to all packages. 
To keep yourself informed about upgrades and new package instructions, 
subscribe to lfs-dev, and if you're really bleeding-edge, lfs-hackers. 
Keep in mind that these are not support lists but development lists.

If you need more information, just ask. I'll keep track of this thread 
to finetune the FAQ-entry which will be composed of the above answer.

Jeroen Coumans (jeroen at linuxfromscratch.org)
FAQ and Website Maintainer

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