August 30, 2016

uCareSystem Core - An Easy And Efficient Way To Keep Your System In Top Shape

When we look to keep our Linux computers running like a fine-oiled machine, we usually employ one way or another to keep our systems up to date. For most of us, it's as simple as using the update manager application that comes packaged with our distribution of choice. Or some people prefer to drop to the command line for a good 'ole run-through of our friends "apt get update" and "apt full-upgrade". The point is, for the most part we are diligent folks who run Linux, and we try to do keep our systems tight, fresh, and as updated as possible. All good things, of course.

But over time, our systems can leave a lot of unneeded and unwanted cruft behind. Things like orphaned packages, old kernels, old cofig files, and more. So, is running the update manager enough over the long haul? Well, it does what it's intended to do and does it arguably well. However, perhaps there's more we could and should be doing? uCareSystem Core attempts to solve that for us. Originating all the way back in 2009, the program's author explains the rationale for it this way:
Any user who has ever used Ubuntu or any Debian derivative knows that the best way to have their system in a good shape and secure, must use the Update Manger to regularly check for any system and software updates. But that’s one part of the procedure where most users usually stop.
  • What about the packages that where downloaded for update reasons and now they are not needed and they reserve free space ?
  • What about packages that where installed to satisfy dependencies for some packages and that are no more needed ?
  • What about packages and configuration files which are not required by any other package upon your system ?
  • What about the stored archives in your cache for packages that are no longer in the repositories or that have a newer version in the repositories ?
Well, unfortunately the Update Manger doesn’t deal with the above problems and do not provide any means to resolve them.

So what is uCareSystem exactly, and why should you care? Well, first as to what it is: it's a small program that evolved from a script to completely automate all aspects of computer maintenance. The idea is run it once, on demand or as a cron job, and you'll not only update the software on your system, but additionally uCareSystem will perform the following desirable action items:
  • Updates the list of available packages
  • Downloads and install updates
  • Checks if there are any old Linux Kernels and uninstalls them. (By default it retains the current and previous kernels)
  • Clears the retrieved packages
  • Uninstall packages that are obsolete
  • Uninstall orphaned packages
  • Deletes any remaining package settings that you have previously installed, but are now no longer present
To achieve this, the program uses several tools already present (or readily available) on our machines. Things like apt, deborphan, etc. So if we really want to keep our system in top shape, all we have to do is install uCareSystem Core and drop to a terminal and hammer in "sudo ucaresystem-core". Apply our password, and we're good to go.

Starting uCareSystem Core in Konsole
After a 5-second countdown, the process flies by and is entirely hands-off. That's all there is to it!

How to get it: 

Fire up konsole (you'll need it anyway to run the app, since it's at present a terminal app only) and enter the following commands:
  1. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:utappia/stable 
  2. sudo apt update
  3. sudo apt install ucaresystem-core 
Once done, just run 'sudo ucaresystem-core' and you're good to go!

uCareSystem Core finishing it's job
There's a GUI version in the works as well, but no E.T.A. at this time for when it will see the light of day. Maybe one of our more tech savy readers could help out (A Qt version would certainly be amazing as well). To read more about uCareSystem, head on over to the author's blog, where there a few blog posts dedicated to uCareSystem that are worth checking out. There's also a video of the application running in a terminal that shows a progress bar similar to how apt can. If you've used this tool before, what do you think?