CentOS 7.4 and VirtualBox Breakage

One of the trademarks of free/libre software is something always breaks.

At work we use CentOS and Proxmox (Debian). At home on my office desktop and laptop I created a CentOS virtual machine (VM) to keep all work related work flows isolated and separated from personal work flows. I have been content with this approach toward security.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.4 was released August 1. According to the CentOS wiki, the updates are first merged into the CentOS Continuous Release (CR) repository, where those who are interested can beta test. Normally the CR repo is disabled in CentOS. Eventually the CR packages are pushed to base and all CentOS users prepare for a massive update.

Things break.

On or about Sept 1, the maintainer for the LightDM pushed new packages to base rather than keeping the packages in the CR repo. The new lightdm-gobject package was compiled against glib2 2.50, which is in the CR repo and not yet in the base repos. That means yum cannot update the LightDM package without enabling the CR repo.

Updating only the LightDM packages through the CR repo is not urgent. Not updating is annoying because of the continual update reminders. I could wait until the CR packages are pushed to base. Updating is straightforward but the caveat is breaking VirtualBox.

After a trial run with updating I lost my desktop icon to my shared folder and the Caja file manager no longer shows the shared folder in the Places panel. The shared folder is being mounted and is accessible.

Curious, I enabled the CR repo and updated all packages. After rebooting I updated the Guest Additions (GA). VirtualBox remained broken. This time I could not change the screen resolution and I lost the seamless mouse and clipboard integration.

Snooping around the web indicates the problem is the way the Red Hat people updated the kernel and the Xorg packages. While VirtualBox 5.1.27 beta packages are available and apparently fix the problem, I would rather wait until officially released at 5.1.28 as well as wait until the CR packages are pushed.

Except I am not using the VirtualBox 5.1 series. I am using 5.0.40. The 5.0 series is now end-of-life (EOL) and not supported. Using 5.0.40 is normal for people using long term support (LTS) distros. While Slackware does not use that specific terminology, each release is treated much the same as an LTS release. The current version of VirtualBox at slackbuilds.org is 5.0.40.

To continue using my CentOS VM I have to update to the VirtualBox 5.1 series. On my Slackware host system that means I first must compile QT5 because the VirtualBox 5.1 series requires those widget libraries rather than QT4.

The problem is not Slackware being “stuck” on an older version. The Ubuntu 16.04 LTS repository is at version 5.0.40 too.

This is the third time in the past several weeks that I have been inconvenienced and lost time because of CentOS.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: CentOS

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