When updating the software of my devices I am usually a bit cautions and wait a couple of days after patches and updates are announced just in case it is discovered that the update breaks something and needs to be fixed. While this tactic usually works it somewhat failed me recently when two updates massively failed within the hour. Luckily the Internet came to the rescue.
The first major fail occurred when updating the Ubuntu distro on my media PC from 13.04 to 13.10. While everything looked fine during the update, the system would not let me log on after rebooting. All I saw was a mysterious error message after typing in my username and password before I was thrown back to the login prompt. WOT!? One can be skeptical about Google but they do find things quickly and thus rescued the day. Only a few hours before somebody posted a fix for the issue: Switch to the console and unistall Cinnamon and the Nemo file manager which I installed previously as Ubuntu has castrated the Nautilus file manager to be basically uselessness. Could this really be the issue? I was skeptical at first but it worked and I could log in again. So much about installing software from third party repositories… Fortunately, the Nemo file manager made it into the official Ubuntu repository in the meantime and I could re-install it from there without the issue re-appearing.
Once that was fixed I updated Thunderbird to apply the latest security patches on my production notebook. That can't possibly go wrong now can it? It seems it can as I stumbled right into the next issue. After restarting Thunderbird, the Lightning calendar just showed and empty window. WOT!? Two minutes and another Internet search and I found out that for a yet unknown reason, updating Thunderbird broke the plugin. The solution: Downgrade Thunderbird until Lightning is updated as well. Fortunately I do not use the pre-packaged Thunderbird so I can apply security patches quicker than with the default Ubuntu install. I guess that saved me this time as I just had to rename the directory and download the previous version again.
So was I too quick with the updates? Perhaps, but from a different point of view my somewhat cautious update behavior has saved me nevertheless. If I had updated both systems earlier I would probably not have found a fix for both issue on the net. And while I can live with a broken media PC for a while, a broken Thunderbird on my production notebook would have been totally unacceptable. So perhaps I waited just long enough.
Another takeaway from this is that without people out there sharing information via blogs, message boards and other means, things would be a lot more difficult and some even impossible. And it's not an overstatement, I still remember how desperate I was sometimes in the days when I 'only' had books e.g. to learn programming and getting stuck often meant hours searching for an answer in seemingly endless trial and error loops.