You can turn off the power anytime you want...
OSTree is designed to implement fully atomic and safe upgrades; more generally, atomic transitions between lists of bootable deployments. If the system crashes or you pull the power, you will have either the old system, or the new one.
Simple upgrades via HTTP
First, the most basic model OSTree supports is one where it replicates
pre-generated filesystem trees from a server over HTTP, tracking
exactly one ref, which is stored in the
.origin file for the
deployment. The command
ostree admin upgrade
To begin a simple upgrade, OSTree fetches the contents of the ref from
the remote server. Suppose we're tracking a ref named
exampleos/buildmaster/x86_64-runtime. OSTree fetches the URL
which contains a SHA256 checksum. This determines the tree to deploy,
/etc will be merged from currently booted tree.
If we do not have this commit, then, then we perform a pull process.
At present (without static deltas), this involves quite simply just
fetching each individual object that we do not have, asynchronously.
Put in other words, we only download changed files (zlib-compressed).
Each object has its checksum validated and is stored in
Once the pull is complete, we have all the objects locally we need to perform a deployment.
Upgrades via external tools (e.g. package managers)
As mentioned in the introduction, OSTree is also designed to allow a model where filesystem trees are computed on the client. It is completely agnostic as to how those trees are generated; they could be computed with traditional packages, packages with post-deployment scripts on top, or built by developers directly from revision control locally, etc.
At a practical level, most package managers today (
operate "live" on the currently booted filesystem. The way they could
work with OSTree is instead to take the list of installed packages in
the currently booted tree, and compute a new filesystem from that. A
later chapter describes in more details how this could work:
Adapting Existing Systems.
For the purposes of this section, let's assume that we have a newly generated filesystem tree stored in the repo (which shares storage with the existing booted tree). We can then move on to checking it back out of the repo into a deployment.
Assembling a new deployment directory
Given a commit to deploy, OSTree first allocates a directory for
it. This is of the form
$serial is normally
0, but if a
given commit is deployed more than once, it will be incremented.
This is supported because the previous deployment may have
/etc that we do not want to use or overwrite.
Now that we have a deployment directory, a 3-way merge is
performed between the (by default) currently booted deployment's
/etc, its default
configuration, and the new deployment (based on its
Atomically swapping boot configuration
At this point, a new deployment directory has been created as a hardlink farm; the running system is untouched, and the bootloader configuration is untouched. We want to add this deployment to the "deployment list".
To support a more general case, OSTree supports atomic transitioning between arbitrary sets of deployments, with the restriction that the currently booted deployment must always be in the new set. In the normal case, we have exactly one deployment, which is the booted one, and we want to add the new deployment to the list. A more complex command might allow creating 100 deployments as part of one atomic transaction, so that one can set up an automated system to bisect across them.
OSTree allows swapping between boot configurations by implementing the
"swapped directory pattern" in
/boot. This means it is a symbolic
link to one of two directories
/ostree/boot.[0|1]. To swap the
contents atomically, if the current version is
0, we create
/ostree/boot.1, populate it with the new contents, then atomically
swap the symbolic link. Finally, the old contents can be garbage
collected at any point.
The /ostree/boot directory
However, we want to optimize for the case where the set of
kernel/initramfs/devicetree sets is the same between both the old and new
deployment lists. This happens when doing an upgrade that does not
include the kernel; think of a simple translation update. OSTree
optimizes for this case because on some systems
/boot may be on a
separate medium such as flash storage not optimized for significant
amounts of write traffic. Related to this, modern OSTree has support
/boot be a read-only mount by default - it will
automatically remount read-write just for the portion of time
necessary to update the bootloader configuration.
To implement this, OSTree also maintains the directory
/ostree/boot.$bootversion, which is a set
of symbolic links to the deployment directories. The
$bootversion here must match the version of
/boot. However, in order to allow atomic transitions of
this directory, this is also a swapped directory,
so just like
/boot, it has a version of
Each bootloader entry has a special
ostree= argument which refers to
one of these symbolic links. This is parsed at runtime in the
Licensing for this document:
SPDX-License-Identifier: (CC-BY-SA-3.0 OR GFDL-1.3-or-later)