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Alternative update workflow on Tumbleweed



tumbleweed-cli is an experimental tool that comes with a couple of safety issues:

  • the evaluation algorithm used to collect statistics about the 'health condition' of available Tumbleweed snapshots has been alleged to produce false positives.

  • the advantages of rolling back to a previous Tumbleweed snapshot comes with the drawback that the user is no longer in sync with possible upcoming security fixes, which are shipped to target only the latest available snapshot.

This tool is an unsupported community-made tool exclusively designed for Tumbleweed. If you have not already, please read the short introduction.

tumbleweed-cli enables the user to control finely the update process by making explicit which Tumbleweed snapshot one is upgrading to. It also allows the user to select and rollback (or fast-forward) to any Tumbleweed snapshot comprised in a collection of recently released snapshots.


In this paragraph snapshot is used to denote Tumbleweed snapshots unless qualified otherwise. Tumbleweed snapshots are "slices" coming out Factory -- the repository and production line for the Tumbleweed distribution. They consist of a collection of updates targeting a subset of all packages available. Do not conflate them with Btrfs snapshots, which are on-disk temporal stages of the file system. Both are discussed below.

tumbleweed-cli may come in handy for users running into outstanding issues experienced with the latest or several snapshots across several snapshots -- including the latest one. It may be useful when three conditions occur:

  1. There is evidence that the cause(s) of the issue is one or several system packages; and
  2. The likely cause(s) "spill over" several single Btrfs snapshots including the latest one; and
  3. No previous Btrfs snapshot captures the state of the system which the user desires to rollback to.

In addition to the responsive workflow described above, the user might use the tool preventively, by updating their system to a Tumbleweed snapshot located before the latest snapshot provided by Factory. Notice however that both the responsive and the preventive workflows could make your system unstable. This happens typically with packages provided by foreign repositories, which escape the scope of the rollbacks/fast-forwards mechanism. When foreign packages rely on dependences not or longer satisfied by the state of your system after rolling-back/fast-forwarding, they become unusable. Proceed only if you can accomodate these limitations.

Installation and use⚓︎

To install tumbleweed-cli:

zypper in tumbleweed-cli

To initialize it:

tumbleweed init

The developer suggests to run this command to verify that the URLs of the repos contain a snapshot version:

zypper lr -EUP

Once this is done you can finally take advantage of the snapshotting system employed for producing Tumbleweed packages, keeping your system in sync with recent snapshot of your choice. Updating to the latest snapshot released is done with:

tumbleweed update

As explained above, packages installed from foreign repositories are not included in Tumbleweed snapshots, and will not update when using tumbleweed-cli. For these packages you will still have to run (sudo zypper ref &&) sudo zypper dup.

At any time you can then check the status of your system with respect to the latest snapshots released:

tumbleweed status

which returns for example:

latest   : 20210414
target   : 20210414
installed: 20210414

where target refers to the next snapshot the system is going to update to with tumbleweed-update.

Setting the target to the previous snapshot and reverting to it is performed with:

tumbleweed revert --install

or if the previous snapshot is for instance 20210411, the equivalent:

tumbleweed switch 20210411
sudo zypper dup

tumbleweed-switch is thus the more generic option allowing you to set the target to whichever snapshot you fancy, provided it is available. The full list of snapshots available for switching is obtained with:

tumbleweed history


Should you want to uninstall tumbleweed-cli, make sure you deactivate its particular update mechanism before. This is done with:

tumbleweed uninit

From now on zypper-dup will again fetch updates across all snapshots, which is the default. You can remove tumbleweed-cli with:

sudo zypper rm tumbleweed-cli

Further reading⚓︎

Last update: 2022-05-25