Fixing Accidental Upgrades

Yesterday I attempted to try out a game that was created as part of
a graphics programming assignment for some uni students, I think from
Stanford in the US. Their software apparently uses the SDL library for
some graphics, so I attempted to install one using Debian’s apt-get.
Unfortunately, it appears that the version of SDL in the testing
repository requires Xorg, rather than XFree86 as your X server. I
didn’t bail out of the install, so I accidentally upgraded my X server
to Xorg, and unfortunately the driver I have for my laptop’s video card
doesn’t support it.

Of course, I didn’t really notice this
until I attempted to boot the thing this morning, at which point GDM
complained that it couldn’t start X due to a mismatch between the video
driver and the Xserver. I downloaded a new driver from ATI’s website,
but that seemed to think I was running v7.0.0.0 of Xorg, instead of
6.8.3 that I was actually running. No idea why, and it’s buried within
the proprietary driver somewhere, so I can’t find out.

Oh
well, says I, I’ll just back it out and go back to the previous version
of server software. So, using the magic of apt-cache showpkg I figured
out what version of software I was previously running, and then ran
apt-get install xserver-xfree86=<version> to downgrade. I had to
also specify the same version of xfree86-common it turned out, so that
they matched. No problem.

So, a couple of minutes to download
the software, reinstall the old video driver, restart GDM and I’m back
and working. About 30 minutes of stuffing about trying to get the new
Xorg working, then about 20 minutes to back out once I decided I
couldn’t be bothered. I’m pretty happy with this. Sure, a little bit of
expert knowledge required, but this package management thing is working
very nicely indeed.

Kudos to all the apt hackers out there. Love your work.

Now, can someone please compile OpenOffice for AMD64? Oh, and VMware, can you release a version for AMD64 too?

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