Maintaining Red Hat with Update Agent

Red Hat uses a system upgrade tool known as Update Agent (up2date). This program is supplemented by a utility called the Network Alert Notification Tool, which displays an icon in the default GNOME Panel signifying whether the system needs an update. Specifically, an exclamation mark inside a red circle means that an update is available, and a check mark inside a blue circle signifies an up-to-date system.

Note When I wrote this chapter, Red Hat allowed you to register one computer for free; but you need to pay a service fee to use the Network Alert Notification Tool with more than one computer. If you register, Red Hat will optionally send you e-mail about security-related updates.

Click the red exclamation mark circle in the Panel to obtain a listing of available updates. If you want to update anything, click the Launch Up2Date button. Alternatively, you can type up2date in an xterm window to launch the tool directly. Either way, the result is the Red Hat Update Agent window, which guides you through the update process. After you click Forward a couple of times, Update Agent builds a list of available updates and enables you to pick which ones you want to install, as shown in Figure 11.3. The program then displays a series of progress dialog boxes as it resolves dependencies, transfers files, and installs the packages.

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Figure 11.3: Red Hat's Update Agent presents a list of packages for which updates are available.

Assuming you register a computer with Red Hat and use it as a desktop system, the Network Alert Notification Tool makes it easy to keep up with system updates. Even without registration, Update Agent is convenient for workstations. As GUI tools, though, these utilities are less convenient for servers or systems that are used only from text-mode logins. There's little point to running Update Agent in a cron job, for instance, in the way you can run Debian's apt-get.

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