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From the Latin, mutare, meaning change, alteration, mutation.


The purpose of this script is to be an all-in-one solution to help me keep up to date with the “official” OpenBSD’s updates. Thus, this is the result of an “eat your own food dog” effort, because no other solution out there satisfied me enough to save me from the effort to write it.

Basically it checks periodically/on-demand the differences between a saved version and the current one of a given document/file. It’s initially intended to be used as a combination of cron jobs to check each and only what interests you as frequently as it fits you. For instance, you could look for a new available snapshot if you are following -current every two hours but only check for updates from the Hackathons web page weekly.

Once a update is detected you can get the feedback trough three different ways: the command line output, a local mail or a desktop notification. This is completely optional and you can use none, one or all, as best suits you. I usually use the local mail and desktop notification simultaneously, as the first one can act as a backup to the last to read it later.

The snapshots updates option is a special case, because it not only looks for a new snapshot it also downloads it, verify it and only notifies you if it is intact (it’s deleted in other case). As soon as you are doing upgrades from these downloaded snapshots, it rotates the sets to keep always a previous and a current version in case that you would need/want to manually downgrade to one of them.


The script is very easy to use, and currently it supports these options (from the original command line help):

usage: [-h] [-q] [-m] [-n] [-t] [-S] [-P] [-l] [-s] [-e] [-c] [-i]
                [-H] [-M [MIRROR]] [-v]

Look for changes in several OpenBSD topics.

positional arguments:
path                  The path to store the working files [default: ~/obsd]

optional arguments:
-h, --help            show this help message and exit
-q, --quiet           do not send any output to the command line
-m, --mail            send feedback via local mail to current user
-n, --notify          send feedback via popup notification (notify-send)
-t, --no-temp         do not use the /tmp directory/partition
-S, --snapshot        look for a new snapshot set for current arch
-P, --packages        look for a new set of packages
-l, --changelog       look for changes in the ChangeLog file
-s, --errata          look for changes in the errata web page
-e, --events          look for changes in the events web page
-c, --current         look for changes in the FAQ's current web page.
-i, --innovations     look for changes in the innovations web page.
-H, --hackathons      look for changes in the hackathons web page
-M [MIRROR], --mirror [MIRROR]
                        The mirror where to get the snapshots from [default:
                        the one from /etc/installurl]
-v, --version         show program's version number and exit

Thus, we could get a notification like this:


using a single cron job like this:

@daily python3 ~/path/to/the/script/ -nmqs

And if you use a notification daemon as dunst, like me, you can even easily open the URL at the bottom in your browser if you want to view the original HTML document.

Get the last snapshot set

When you use the snapshot option (-S, --snapshot), then several things happen:

  1. If there is not any snapshot set downloaded or there is a new available, then starts to download the entire snapshot set to the disk for the current machine architecture.
  2. When the download ends, it verifies the integrity of the same, and in case of there is some file that is corrupted then tries to download it again once (five minutes later).
  3. If the snapshot is intact then saves it in the right folder, upgrade or current, in other case it discard and delete the entire set.
  4. Notifies you that a new snapshot set is available to upgrade.
  5. The next time that the script is executed, if the upgrade snapshot is already installed then proceeds to rotate the snapshots folders to keep always at least the current and the previous one available on the disk, in case of there is any need to go back to another of them. If it is not already installed keeps it until you decide to upgrade to it or a new snapshot is available to replace it.

By default the new snapshot is downloaded to a temporary directory in /tmp, but you can use the -t option to use the snapshots folder if you want or do not have enough space in that directory/partition.

The reason why I download the entire snapshot and not only the SHA256.sig and bsd.rd files is because it happened to me already two times that I started to upgrade my system and several files were corrupted, having to abort the upgrade in the middle. The most probably reason for that was that I was unfortunate enough to get the mirror in the middle of a sync operation, with a mixture of files from two different versions. In this way I only got notified when a complete and sound snapshot is available to upgrade, saving me time and inconveniences. Also the upgrade process from local is faster than making it on-line in most cases.

Upgrading from the snapshot

As you probably know, upgrade your machine from the new downloaded snapshot is fairly easy:

  • copy the ramdisk file bsd.rd from the upgrade snapshot folder to your root directory /
  • boot from that ramdisk file (as simple as type bsd.rd in the boot prompt)
  • choose the disk and your snapshot directory as source for you snapshot sets

Automate upgrades

If you want to upgrade your downloaded snapshots in an automatic way, I suggest you to use upobsd by Sebastien Marie. This script uses a clever trick, that is not officially supported/documented, to add the auto_upgrade.conf file to the bsd.rd ramdisk file. Since I developed this script to be initially running in my local machines, there is little advantage above the interactive way in this scenario, it only probably would save you a few keystrokes and probably no much time. There are, of course, other scenarios where automation fits better and where upobsd it’s an excellent alternative.


mutatio was written by joe di castro | @joedicastro


OpenBSD © joe di castro


A simple script to keep to date with OpenBSD updates and to download new snapshots.





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