apt-dater provides an ncurses interface for managing package updates of multiple hosts.
One master host needs access via ssh to each managed node. Each managed host contains a simple perl-based agent (apt-dater-host).
cron-apt is a good companion for apt-dater - it sends mail notification for pending package updates.
Optionally you may use vi-like navigation (hjkl) for moving around.
aptitude install apt-dater
create a config file listing all managed nodes (.config/apt-dater/hosts.conf):
aptitude install --without-recommends apt-dater-host
sudo is part of apt-dater-host recommendations - probably you do not need it
The following steps will ease your first run of apt-dater. Later everything will feel easy and intuitive.
run apt-dater on the master host
- the program automatically connects to all listed managed hosts (see config file above) - see the status bar at the bottom of the screen
wait until the list In refresh is empty
- hosts are now grouped according to their status
verify the hosts below unknown: press e for further information about their failure (see the bar at the top of the screen)
go through the details of the hosts to be updated (Updates pending)
run the updates via u for each host
you can also update a list of hosts by pressing u for a group of hosts:
the update progress can be comfortably tracked via screen - just choose one host below Sessions and attach via a (use CTRL-a d to detach afterwards)
- the result of all operations can be reviewed later
apt-dater keeps track of all previous operations by storing the screen logs. This is a useful feature for cooperative server administration (if used consistently).
press H for a host
choose any of the previous sessions and press L for a quick review or p for an entertaining terminal show
apt-dater also helps to keep your hosts' packages in a clean state:
all orphaned packages (no longer available in current package sources) are marked with the flag x
use aptitude or similar tools for cleaning up the mess