Modern Linux computers, that have a considerable GUI, also have a feature called ‘polkit’. The purpose of this feature is not hard to understand. There exist certain operations which require ‘root’ privileges on a Linux computer, but actual users run Graphical User Interfaces, in ‘user mode’, i.e, without elevated privileges. Usually, Linux users want to be able to do such things as to install and update packages, which requires ‘root’ privileges, but want to be able to do so using the GUI. And so the way the feature ‘polkit’ is organized, there exists a daemon running as user ‘root’, which can among other things update packages, and there exists another daemon running as the specific user, which makes requests to the ‘root’ polkit daemon, to update packages. The root daemon carries out the requested action.
This arrangement may seem to make more sense for Ubuntu, where there is no such thing in a pronounced way, as ‘root’, as there is under Debian. But even some Debian setups have partial Ubuntu installs running, and many Debian users also like the ease, of being able to install a package, just by clicking on it, and then, by convincing the ‘root’ polkit daemon, that the user in question is privileged enough to do so.
Well today, my two Debian / Jessie systems, which I name ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Klystron’, have received routine updates to the polkit packages themselves. But the rather unbalanced, immediate result of this is, that on both these computers, the user-space daemon is still running the old binary, from before the update, while a new ‘root’ daemon has been launched, as part of the update. The two versions of ‘polkit’ running on both these computers, may or may not continue to be compatible with each other.
If they should turn out to be incompatible, then in the very near future I’ll need to reboot both computers as well, which could therefore also lead to brief downtime for this blog.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed, that the new service may be running in a way that remained compatible, with the old client.