The APT package manager has been patched to prevent the uninstallation of essential components

Last week was a bitter for bit System76 . Aside from its conflict with GNOME , the company had to see its operating system, Pop! _OS , being exposed on the YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips after an attempt to install Steam took away the desktop environment.

Linus Sebastian, the protagonist of the Linus Tech Tips channel, tried to use or test Linux as a desktop operating system. To do this, he first opted for Pop! _OS, one of NVIDIA’s most user-friendly and graphics-friendly distributions. Everything seemed to be going apparently fine until he started installing Steam . He first tried the store, but after failing, he tried through APT. Despite the warning that jumped him, Linus decided to go ahead with the installation of the application, which resulted in the uninstallation of the desktop environment . After rebooting, obviously, there was no graphical interface.

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What happened to the protagonist of the popular YouTube channel, which has more than 14 million subscribers, is that he was struck by a bug detected at least two months ago in Pop! _OS , but it was not corrected until after being exposed by Linus Tech Tips. The large number of followers that the channel has made the event go viral, representing a severe blow to the Linux desktop.

In fairness, blame must be shared here. First, Linus did not have to proceed with the Steam installation after he missed the warning. The version you tried to install was the one from the Pop! _OS repositories, while Ubuntu and derivative users usually use the one from the official Steam website . Second, it cannot be that installing a launcher for a video game platform client ends up uninstalling essential components of the operating system. It is something that by design should not happen.

To this mess from happening again, System76 made the decision to adopt measures ( in its implementation of APT 1 and 2 prevent ) that prevent the uninstallation of essential components of the operating system . Later the company decided to enter into discussions with Debian to implement at least something similar in the main branch of APT, which has been approved ( 1 and 2 ) for version 2.3.12 of the package manager.

As of APT 2.3.12, the package manager should no longer automatically resolve when a process tries to uninstall essential or protected components , thus forcing the user to have to manually resolve the dependency issue by adding a argument. Returning to the case at hand, the installation of Steam should be denied initially to protect the operating system. Perhaps it remains to be seen how flexible APT developers have been with implementing this measure.

Facts like this lead one to wonder if the Linux desktop does not need a twist, a twist that has been clearly reflected in Fedora Silverblue, a system in which things like this are impossible by design thanks to the immutability since it delegates the installation of applications mainly in the Flatpak format.

1 Comment

  1. He didn’t “miss” the warning. He choose to ignore it. That is on him. Let’s be fair about this. Linux gives you total control over your system. That is good, but also very dangerous to fools.

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