byobu or Checking your update manager package descriptions

I use Mint, an Ubuntu derivative, and every time I get a notification that there are updates available, I go check the list of updates.

I do this with several purposes in mind:

  • First and foremost, I want to know what gets updated in case something stops working.
  • Second, I want to see how many there are and how large to evaluate how long it's going to slow down my (old) computer
  • and third, to learn a bit about the packages I have installed

Remember when you were in grade school and the teacher (or parents) enticed you to learn at least one new word every day? You end up with quite a wide vocabulary without getting bored studding the dictionary.

In an end-user Linux based system these days we rarely know (or understand) all the packages that are installed by default, so having a look at the ones that are being updated and evolving is quite illuminating.

The Mint updater is nice enough to show the description of the packages it is updating. This is the same description as the one used in the package installer. Reading those descriptions is equivalent to that "one word a day" game.

Today for example, among all the libraries listed there was an application called byobu, Reading the description, I found the following:

byobu includes a set of profiles for the GNU screen window manager. These profiles are quite useful on server machines which are not running a graphical desktop. The 'screen' command provides a number of advanced features are not necessarily exposed in the default profile. These profiles provide features such as status bars, clocks, notifiers (reboot required, updates available), etc. The profile-switcher allows users to quickly switch their .screenrc to any of the available profiles.

The most interesting part is that I wouldn't have know what all that meant without listening to Paul's presentation on "screen".

Thanks Paul!

Have you had the same experience as me finding jewels among the list of updates? What other methods do you use to learn a little about Linux every day?