CSAIL Debian reboot and browser upgrade next Tuesday morning (October 12, 2010)

Hi. There are two upcoming upgrades to our CSAIL Debian environment (one of which requires a reboot of 64-bit workstations) that you need to be aware of if you use CSAIL Debian workstations. Both will happen in the early morning of next Tuesday, October 12 (after the Columbus Day long weekend), in order to minimize disruption.

1. Reboot of 64-bit machines

The most important is that around 6:00am on October 12 we will be rebooting any 64-bit CSAIL Debian workstations that have not been rebooted since September 20, to apply a kernel security fix.

This fix does not affect workstations running the 32-bit version of CSAIL Debian. (If the output of "uname -m" does not include "64" in it, you're not affected.) We also will not be rebooting machines that have already been rebooted recently enough (since September 20) to get the fix. So if the early morning of October 12 is not a convenient time for you to have your CSAIL Debian machine reboot, you can reboot it at any time between now and then and it will not reboot then.

This also does not apply to machines we have listed as servers; many of those have already been rebooted, and we're working with machine owners individually to reboot the remainder. (If your machine has both AMD64 and CSAIL_WKST listed in the file /etc/cfengine/FAI_CLASSES, and hasn't been rebooted since the 20th, this reboot will affect you.)

1A. Scheduling an earlier upgrade

If you have any concerns about your workstation's ability to reboot cleanly (e.g., you have an external drive attached that you think it might try to boot from, or the last time you rebooted it you had to add a kernel option by hand to get it to boot), we would encourage you to contact us at help@csail.mit.edu and schedule an earlier reboot when we can be around to help you. Of course, we'll be available Tuesday morning to help with any problems that may arise.

2. Iceweasel upgrade

Also, earlier that morning, we will be upgrading Iceweasel (the Debian rebranding of Firefox) to a newer backported version than the one included in Debian Lenny. We need to do this in order to implement correct support (on the server end) for some security flaws affecting SSL connections. This involves going from Iceweasel 3.0.6 to Iceweasel 3.5.12, so there will be a few user-visible changes. In particular, extensions may need to be upgraded in some cases.

The biggest changes between Iceweasel/Firefox 3.0 and 3.5 are mentioned at http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/3.5/releasenotes/ . We're doing this upgrade for better SSL support, but there are a bunch of other feature enhancements that come along with the newer version.

If you leave Iceweasel running during the upgrade (and your machine is not rebooted), you may notice incorrect behaviour afterwards until you restart it. This is not likely to be a big problem, but to avoid problems, you might want to quit Iceweasel before midnight the night of October 11, so you can start a new (upgraded) Iceweasel after the upgrade.


On a single-user machine, one way you can prepare for both the Iceweasel upgrade and the reboot is to log out (and optionally reboot your machine) before you leave for the day before the reboot (e.g., Friday evening if you're not going to be in and working over the Columbus Day weekend).

If your machine is not going to reboot because you are on a machine running 32-bit CSAIL Debian, or you have recently rebooted your workstation, and you don't want to log out, you can simply quit Iceweasel. (Make sure you actually quit Iceweasel, leaving no processes running, rather than just closing all visible windows.)

If you don't do either of these, and you leave yourself logged in with Iceweasel running, most likely everything will be OK and you won't have any problems. But it increases the likelihood of problems with stale lockfiles or odd Iceweasel behavior.

-- JaySekora - 06 Oct 2010
Topic revision: 06 Oct 2010, JaySekora

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory


  • About CSAIL
  • Research
  • News + Events
  • Resources
  • People

This site is powered by Foswiki MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology