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Re: How to Keep Track of Changes to the System

On Friday, August 25, 2017 11:14:52 PM ray wrote:
> I would like to find a way to keep track of changes I make to my system. 
> It seem that I may learn from others on how they keep track of changes
> they make to their systems.
> When I make changes, I don't remember where I made changes or why.
> It would be great to have a log of what changes I've made, where they were
> made, how they were made (direct edit, scripted, etc.), why I made them,
> references that I used to determine the change, and what was the outcome.
> Right now, I get lost in my documentation.  I research solutions, make
> notes in Onenote on a Windows machine, record configurations files that I
> will test.  But It is difficult to record results such as syslogs or
> console transactions.  More challenging is that I have different notebook
> tabs for different objectives.  So when I want to see what I changed, I
> have to go through many different objectives because I don't know what
> object I was shooting for when I made the change.
> I would really like to hear how others track their changes or suggestions
> how I may tack changes.
> I store all the changes on a different computer because I screw up the
> installation on my machine under test and rebuild the OS.  The laptop I am
> building to run Xen is on its 28th build.
> I would appreciate any suggestions.

In general, I have similar problems, and, I don't have a good general solution 
or suggestion at this time, but I do have one suggestion to address one 
specific part of the problem.

I would suggest that you create a separate partition on the "subject" computer 
(the one on which you rebuild the OS when you have a (significant) problem with 
the OS.  Then:
   * mount that partition each (or almost each) time you rebuild the OS 
   * never reformat or delete that partition
   * when you mount the partition, create a mounting point outside the FHS 
hierarchy (i.e., not in /home)--I typically create several such partitions 
(for different reasons) using my initials or similar, for instance, I have 
rhk01, rhk02, ..., back01, back02 and such
   * keep the change log (whatever form it takes on such a partition--with 
luck they will always be available, and, it is easier to c&p to a file on the 
computer in question rather than "transcribe" stuff to a different computer.

Of course, a similar result could be obtained by mounting a partion on some 
other computer over the network (using, for example, NFS or Samba), or using 
SSL to write notes on the subject computer but store them on a "safer" 

Of course, in any case, the files on that separate partition should be backed 
up regulalrly, just in case (and, particularly, just before you start an OS 

<the following is a little more general about the general approach I take (and 
tools I use), but my  mashup (read on) is not ready for prime time (or 
distribution to others, except maybe to someone really motivated who might 
also be interested in doing some programming to carry things forward---I guess 
I'm sort of saying "read the following at your own risk" ;-) >

With respect to an actual general change log (as opposed to where to keep it), 
I keep my notes in some specially formatted files for which I've created some 
"programming" (e.g., macros, and similar)  to create something that I call (at 
various times): my askSam workalike, my offline wiki-like thing, and some other 
similar names that I don't recall at the moment.  (Oh, I also consider it a 
"mashup" as it (each iteration) uses a variety of programs to provide all the 
features I want to have (for example, recoll for full text indexed search).

I've gone through several iterations, each using an editor with special macros 
to make things more convenient, but I don't currently have any features that 
do anything like monitor all of the files in /etc (and/or /var/log or similar 
locations) and record any changes, the date, and prompt me to enter a reason 
for the change.

That would be nice!

(Previous iterations have been based on nedit as the editor, then kate as the 
editor (with a different feature set, partially based on the capabilties of the 
editor), and have also included a full text indexed search system (using 
recoll).  My current focus (which I've been "working on" sporadically over the 
last 12 years or so, will be based on scintilla, which because scintilla is 
used as the editing "widgit" for quite a few editors, would open the door to 
letting me choose from a variety of editors.  (And then, maybe (not something 
I really considered before today), might include something like monitoring 
/home, etc. for changes (as mentioned somewhere above) (using things like--
well, I can't remember the name, but there are tools that monitor files for 
changes, and scintilla-based editors have a pretty powerful scripting language 
in Lua.