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EndeavourOS Update Notifier

By: Manuel
Created: 2019-Dec
Updated: 2020-Apr-23, 2020-Aug-24

What is it?

EndeavourOS Update Notifier, as the name suggests, is a notifier for software updates. As many other notifiers, it can also start the update process.

In addition to notifying about updates, it can

  • show news about important software changes (from Arch web pages)
  • show if a reboot is recommended after updating certain core system packages (e.g. kernel)

Can I update my system with some other software?

Of course! These command line alternatives are immediately available:

  • pacman (the default package manager, the most reliable)
  • yay (like pacman, supports AUR software too)


See the appropriate manual pages for more details (e.g. man pacman).
Then

  • http://endeavouros.com/docs/pacman

gives lots of useful information about pacman. The yay information is at

  • http://endeavouros.com/docs/aur/yay

There are a bunch of other alternatives, see

  • https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/AUR_helpers

This link may give useful information for people coming from other Linux distros:

  • https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Pacman/Rosetta

Getting started

The usage is quite automatic. After installing the package eos-update-notifier and after re-login, it starts to check for updates.

Note: newer versions of eos-update-notifier do not start automatically after install. Instead, you need to manually start the service (once) using a terminal command:

eos-update-notifier -init

By default, it checks for software updates very soon (in about a minute) after login, and then after every two hours. So that’s it for basic operation.

But if you want to change the times when to check for updates, see paragraph Configuration below.

Notifier in action

When the notifier detects any available software updates, it starts a terminal and shows what the updates are. Then it starts command pacman to do the actual update — it asks the password for elevated privileges and so on.

The notifier checks for both upstream (Arch repos) and AUR updates. But it does so in two phases: first it handles all upstream updates, and then it handles all AUR updates. This phasing is designed to keep the basic (upstream) system in good order before updating any other software.

Note that packages in the EndeavourOS repo are updated in the first phase.

Additional services

Arch news for you

The notifier can check for Arch news. The Arch news may contain very important information about software updates, especially when user actions are required beyond the normal update process.
The Arch news checker tries to keep the amount of information as small as possible, thus avoiding news that are not relevant to the particular system. It does so by checking if the package mentioned in the Arch news is currently installed. If not, then that piece of news is skipped. That’s why the feature is referred as “Arch news for you”.
Please note that this ad hoc method is not “fool proof”, so some relevant news might be skipped. That’s why it is recommended to check the Arch news with a browser as well at times.

Version 0.9-1 added a new alternative Arch news checker. It does not use ad hoc method, but simply the remembers the date of the last news it has shown. See /etc/eos-update-notifier.conf below.

Reboot recommended

If during the upgrade process the packages upgraded are those that will require a reboot, notifier will show it using the system’s notification feature.

Configuration

Schedule checking: the (old) GUI way

Please note: version 0.6-2 introduced the configuration option -conf that helps configuring the schedule of the update checks. To use it, give a terminal command:

eos-update-notifier -conf

The configuration window looks like this:

There are two fields that accept numeric values:

Interval in hours: specifies how often (i.e. after how many hours from the previous check) this app checks for updates.

Initial hour: specifies when the first check is done. Afterwards, the checks are done using the value in the “Interval in hours” field.

Note that if the “Interval in hours” is e.g. 1, then the value in “Initial hour” does effectively nothing. But if “Interval in hours” is e.g. 2, then “Initial hour” effectively specifies whether checks occur at even or odd hours. And so on…

In version 0.6-6 the “Minute offset” field was changed to be a random number (when making the configuration with this GUI). This change tries to avoid all users doing the check for updates at the same time. But note that manually you still can set the minute value as you wish. There’s more info below.

Schedule checking: the GUI way (v1.8-2)

Starting from version 1.8-2 the GUI changed to a simpler model. It allows you to set the automatic checking period to: hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly.
Note that manually (see below) you can set any period without being restricted to these 4 values.

The configuration window looks like this:

The default period is daily. Note that on a rolling release the update interval is not recommended to be very large, like months, in order to minimize possible issues.

Schedule checking: the manual way

To manually configure the systemd timer that sets the checking schedule, you need to modify file ~/.config/systemd/user/eos-update-notifier.timer. Manual configuration provides slightly more detailed configuration possibilities.

Note that in the current implementation it is a user specific systemd service.

Before modifying the timer file, the service must be stopped and disabled first. After modifying, the service must be enabled and started. The commands to do so are:

cd ~/.config/systemd/user
systemctl --user stop eos-update-notifier.timer
systemctl --user disable eos-update-notifier.timer
nano eos-update-notifier.timer # modify settings with any editor
systemctl --user enable eos-update-notifier.timer
systemctl --user start eos-update-notifier.timer

To modify the values with the editor, please check the manual page first:

man systemd.time # especially: CALENDAR EVENTS

There are two lines that specify when the notifier is called:

OnStartupSec=30sec
OnCalendar=0/2:25:00

The first one tells when the first check is started after login.
The second line tells the schedule of future checks. The format is

hour-spec:minute-spec:second-spec

The hour-spec here is 0/2. The tail ‘/2’ is easier to explain: it means every two hours. The 0 means the start is at 00:00. So it checks for updates at 00:25, 02:25, 04:25, etc.

Now that you know the syntax, it should be easy to change it to your liking.

Note that this file may be overwritten with certain options given to eos-update-notifier. Fortunately eos-update-notifier makes a backup, but only one!
So if you want to keep using your modified schedule, please make a backup of your modifications.

And if you want to revert back to the default schedule, you can use command:

eos-update-notifier -init-force

/etc/eos-update-notifier.conf

The configuration file currently includes these (bash) variables:

  • CheckAurUpdates
  • CheckArchNewsForYou
  • ShowWhatAboutUpdates
  • ArchNewsProg


The default values (note the bash syntax: no spaces around the “=” mark!) in this file are:

CheckAurUpdates=yes
CheckArchNewsForYou=yes

ArchNewsProg=eos-arch-news
ShowHowAboutUpdates=notify
ShowWhatAboutUpdates=number

If CheckAurUpdates is yes, then also AUR updates are checked, otherwise they are not checked.

If CheckArchNewsForYou is yes, then the Arch news are checked, otherwise they are not checked.

If ShowWhatAboutUpdates is number, then a simple number of available updates is shown in the notification window. Value packages means the notification window includes a list of package names to be updated, including changes in the version number.

ShowHowAboutUpdates can have the following values: notify, notify+tray, tray, or window. Their meanings are:

  • notify: show a simple notification using standard notification services
  • notify+tray: same as above + a tray icon that can start the actual updating
  • tray: show only a tray icon like above
  • window: show a simple popup window that shows info about updates and allows to update or dismiss


ArchNewsProg selects the Arch news checker program. Possible values are eos-arch-news and arch-news-for-you. The first one is simpler and more reliable in showing the latest Arch news. The latter uses an ad hoc method to determine if the latest Arch news are relevant to the machine; however, this method may skip showing some relevant news, so an alternative program was added in version 0.9-1.

Some useful command line options

You may give various options to the eos-update-notifier, but probably the most useful options are:

-initInitialize the service. Must be executed (once) in order to start checking for updates.
-confConfigure the schedule of the update check timer.
-show-timerShow the status of the update check timer.
-qBe quiet: don’t show the popup that tells there are no updates.

About supported terminals

The eos-update-notifier supports (= have been tested) the following terminals:

  • xfce4-terminal
  • konsole
  • gnome-terminal
  • mate-terminal
  • lxterminal
  • deepin-terminal
  • terminator
  • qterminal
  • tilix
  • termite
  • xterm
  • kitty

Other terminals have not been tested and thus they are not supported.
Note: you might want to check the Welcome app documentation, especially chapter Special note about the code.

If you wish having support for a terminal not in the list above, please tell us about your wish at the EndeavourOS forum.

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