Forcing glibc install on arch linux

On a fresh install of arch linux in linode, 2011.08 64bit, attempting to upgrade pacman will yield a glibc error.

Like this:


$ pacman -Sy pacman
:: Synchronizing package databases...
 core 105.9K 1322.3K/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 extra 1408.5K 3.9M/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 community 1748.9K 3.4M/s 00:00:01 [#########################################################################] 100%
resolving dependencies...
looking for inter-conflicts...

Targets (15): linux-api-headers-3.4.4-1 glibc-2.16.0-1 libarchive-3.0.4-1 ca-certificates-20120623-1 libssh2-1.4.2-1 curl-7.26.0-1 pth-2.0.7-4 libksba-1.2.0-2 libassuan-2.0.3-1
 pinentry-0.8.1-4 dirmngr-1.1.0-4 gnupg-2.0.19-2 gpgme-1.3.1-4 archlinux-keyring-20120622-1 pacman-4.0.3-2

Total Download Size: 13.05 MB
Total Installed Size: 61.67 MB

Proceed with installation? [Y/n] Y
:: Retrieving packages from core...
 linux-api-headers-3.4.4-1-x86_64 598.3K 3.0M/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 glibc-2.16.0-1-x86_64 8.2M 3.9M/s 00:00:02 [#########################################################################] 100%
 libarchive-3.0.4-1-x86_64 529.3K 3.3M/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 ca-certificates-20120623-1-any 127.1K 1579.5K/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 libssh2-1.4.2-1-x86_64 185.7K 1942.8K/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 curl-7.26.0-1-x86_64 495.4K 2.5M/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 pth-2.0.7-4-x86_64 75.9K 1424.9K/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 libksba-1.2.0-2-x86_64 109.9K 1329.7K/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 libassuan-2.0.3-1-x86_64 76.5K 1444.7K/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 pinentry-0.8.1-4-x86_64 93.1K 1403.4K/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 dirmngr-1.1.0-4-x86_64 163.9K 1763.1K/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 gnupg-2.0.19-2-x86_64 1449.6K 3.4M/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 gpgme-1.3.1-4-x86_64 207.9K 2.2M/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 archlinux-keyring-20120622-1-any 323.0K 2.3M/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
 pacman-4.0.3-2-x86_64 509.3K 2.4M/s 00:00:00 [#########################################################################] 100%
(15/15) checking package integrity [#########################################################################] 100%
(15/15) checking for file conflicts [#########################################################################] 100%
error: failed to commit transaction (conflicting files)
glibc: /usr/bin/tzselect exists in filesystem
glibc: /usr/sbin/zdump exists in filesystem
glibc: /usr/sbin/zic exists in filesystem
Errors occurred, no packages were upgraded.

This just means that tzselect, zdump and zic – which are all part of the glibc, the GNU C Library, that will be upgraded along with pacman – are already included by default in our fresh copy of arch linux OS; and if we want to upgrade pacman, we will have to do something about those existing files as the new pacman will not know what to do with them.
I am not sure why the pacman developers do not want simply kill off tzselect, zdump or zic but I would hazard to presume that they did not want to assume responsibility for removing them.

A quick chat with other arch linux users quickly confirmed my suspicions:

  1. pacman should not assume that the arch linux user wants his glibc library upgraded and userspace’s tzselect, zdump, zic forcibly removed
  2. pacman developers assume that most users would be using netinstall and not upgrading this version (provided by linode in my case)
  3. and the funniest reason of all, a “This-Is-Sparta” rationale – well, you are a Arch Linux user and not a Ubuntu user!  For such a trivial problem, you are expected to fix it yourself :-)

Okay…

IMPORTANT WARNING

DO NOT use `pacman -S glibc –force` if you are dealing with the /lib becomes a symlink to /usr/lib upgrade (reference: http://www.archlinux.org/news/the-lib-directory-becomes-a-symlink/)

The solution below worked prior to 13th July 2012.  From 14th July 2012 onwards, the correct solution is to use http://allanmcrae.com/2012/07/updating-arch-linux-from-a-core-install/.

Failing to heed this warning will lead to your glibc being wiped up and having a bricked system.

This only worked prior to 13th July 2012…

Anyhow, for those still scratching their head, the problem is exactly as the warning says. We can solve it by a couple of (simple) ways:

  1. Force glibc install first
    pacman -S glibc --force
    pacman -S pacman
    
  2. Or alternatively, just forcibly remove tzselect, zdump, zic
    rm /usr/bin/tzselect /usr/sbin/zdump /usr/sbin/zic
    pacman -S pacman
    

No magic here. Problem solved and moving on…

  • dotnil

    What if I did `pacman -S glibc –force` and logged out… I can not ssh my VPS now…

  • Brian Milnes

    You say DO NOT USE “FORCE” then say Force glibc
    pacman (and other stuff is now trashed)!!
    Arrrgh!

    • http://www.calvinx.com Calvin Cheng

      Brian: so sorry to hear that. Really sorry about this but I did mention “This only worked prior to 13th July 2012…”