System76 patches APT for Pop!_OS to prevent users breaking their systems

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There's been a huge amount of talk recently about switching to Linux for gaming, thanks to the challenge from Linus Tech Tips (YouTube) where two of their people tried the full-switch but it didn't go so well for Linus and Pop!_OS. Now, System76 are trying to improve.

It was pretty unfortunate that as Linus was going to install Steam, Pop's packaging had some sort of breakage that wasn't quite picked up and Linus ended up hosing the Pop desktop install. You can easily do some finger-pointing on where the real blame lies here from Pop not ensuring a major package like Steam works correctly before it's pushed to users, to Linus ignoring the (what should be) pretty-clear warning message:

Oh no, please, Linus — don't do it! Linus did it.

The point remains the same regardless, and throwing around pointy-fingers isn't really helpful. It shouldn't have happened, it's as simple as that. Loading up the Pop!_Shop GUI and telling it to install Steam should have been enough. Going by what System76 engineer Jeremy Soller said on Twitter, the cause was this:

"For some reason, an i386 version of a package was never published on Launchpad. Steam being an i386 package, when trying to install it, it had to downgrade that package to the Ubuntu version to resolve dependencies, which removed Pop!_OS packages.".

One thing System76 has now done to prevent such almighty breakage in future, is to patch APT (the package manager), in Pop to prevent users being able to see the "Yes, do as I say!" prompt by default. Unless, they add a special file to actually enable it. On top of that, another System76 developer Jacob Kauffmann mentioned on GitHub their plans to "make further improvements" to the Pop!_Shop GUI so that "users don't have to fall back to the terminal in the first place". Sounds like lessons learned, and hopefully smooth sailing for users in future.

Update: a new version of APT brings in its own improvements for this.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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153 comments
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Mohandevir 10 Nov, 2021
It's just sad... Bad timing. The problem is solved, I read? Took what? Couple of hours to get a fix? How much time would have been required, on Windows, to get a fix for a similar issue? Next tuesday patch? Next month? I must admit that I never witnessed a Windows update bricking a PC or generate a BSOD, either...

But it's Linux, it doesn't have that margin. It must be nothing less than perfect, accross the board, on all distributions simultaneously, to convince mainstream users.


Last edited by Mohandevir on 10 November 2021 at 3:10 pm UTC
mylka 10 Nov, 2021
of course it is the fault of popOS!
if you wanna be a distro for everyone, then this should not be possible, if all you wanna do is installing steeam! linus did nothing wrong. linus tried to install steam fron the GUI and it did NOT work

he used a command line he found on the internet and hit YES, as every other (new to linux) user would do

after all this helps linux to improve usability
i hope LTT will continue this linux challenge with other ppl from his staff and let them to everyday tasks to find much more bugs in other distros

btw lukes also having some issuses installing steam
it said REMOVING! it worked after all, but it should not do it


Last edited by mylka on 10 November 2021 at 3:25 pm UTC
dubigrasu 10 Nov, 2021
Quoting: MohandevirIt's just sad... Bad timing.
Bad timing indeed, sadly what a missed opportunity for Pop!_OS (God!...this name!) to show its value. (as a side note, I felt so vindicated when Linus agreed that it has a "spectacularly stupid name").
Nevertheless, I hope is gonna try it again, from the looks of it (from what I gather watching their WAN's) Linus already probably butchered his Manjaro install because he didn't liked Dolphin or something.
I think it deserves a second chance.
Samsai 10 Nov, 2021
The whole Steam debacle seems to indicate that maybe this type of software really should be installed through Flatpak and the like. At least that makes it harder to accidentally uninstall your entire DE and display manager.
Mohandevir 10 Nov, 2021
Quoting: dubigrasu
Quoting: MohandevirIt's just sad... Bad timing.
Bad timing indeed, sadly what a missed opportunity for Pop!_OS (God!...this name!) to show its value. (as a side note, I felt so vindicated when Linus agreed that it has a "spectacularly stupid name").
Nevertheless, I hope is gonna try it again, from the looks of it (from what I gather watching their WAN's) Linus already probably butchered his Manjaro install because he didn't liked Dolphin or something.
I think it deserves a second chance.

Seriously, from my experience, Pop_OS! is probably the easiest distro for managing Steam, Lutris and all gaming related stuff. It's all one click installs. It does deserves a second chance. It is a missed opportunity that shouldn't have happened, caused by an error that probably happens once per decade (might be exagerating here). I'm not blaming anyone, other than the timing. Nobody is perfect.

Edit: We have never seen Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates battling with Windows crashes during Microsoft keynotes either...

Edit 2: It's all that double standard stuff that irritates me, in cases like this.


Last edited by Mohandevir on 10 November 2021 at 6:38 pm UTC
seanbutnotheard 10 Nov, 2021
As much as we might cringe at what Linus did, it's a good object lesson for him in just how fundamentally different Linux is from other OSes. You're allowed to do *whatever you want* including removing critical packages. Fortunately, neither starting over with a fresh install, nor fixing major breakages, are nearly as big a deal in Linux land as in Windows land. Totally breaking a system is just part of the learning process in these parts.
Narvarth 10 Nov, 2021
Quoting: sudoerMeanwhile everything seemed to work fine for him with Manjaro

in fact he also had problems with Manjaro (no sound), his colleague had no problem with Linux Mint. Anyway, i'm not sure that this "challenge" has any real signification.


Last edited by Narvarth on 10 November 2021 at 4:13 pm UTC
x_wing 10 Nov, 2021
Good to see that Pop!_OS fixed the issue, but is definitely a QA issue from their part. Although the change to implement seems right, it would also be cool to know if they will work in order to implement a continuous integration testing ticket for some of this packages.

BTW, is certainly very important to also notice the issues that they other guy from LTT had with mint. The shit show that was his UI due to Nvidia open source drivers is also a big heads up (yet another fuck you to Nvidia I guess).
Liam Dawe 10 Nov, 2021
Quoting: berarmaThis is a distraction move. Where's the news about the Steam package being fixed and the reason it was published without being tested? Because that's the real issue.
A distraction move? No. Where's the news? This is it. I don't follow Pop for such issues personally to know if a package breaks, no one notified us, and now it's all solved so we've reported on it with details that we have.
x_wing 10 Nov, 2021
Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: berarmaThis is a distraction move. Where's the news about the Steam package being fixed and the reason it was published without being tested? Because that's the real issue.
A distraction move? No. Where's the news? This is it. I don't follow Pop for such issues personally to know if a package breaks, no one notified us, and now it's all solved so we've reported on it with details that we have.

TBF, the chances of getting into the same full UI removal was fixed but, as I mentioned, we are not sure if packages installation testing was implemented. I mean, it's cool to make it difficult to break the UI but it would be also cool to never get into an scenario were a user can't install a package.
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