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Fedora 18/19, PackageKit, KSplice and Failed Backend Message

A couple of months ago, the PackageKit utility on my Fedora 18 system stopped working. YUM continued to work so I had an easy workaround and did not really try to trace down the problem and fix it. I assumed that a future version of a PackageKit RPM would fix the problem.
Recently I did a FedUp upgrade to Fedora 19 and the problem persisted so I decided the time had come to investigate the root cause of the problem and fix it.

Here is how the problem manifested itself:

A quick check of Fedora Bugzilla convinced me that the problem was probably mine alone as nobody had reported a similar problem in the last 6 months. So I removed all the PackageKit RPMs, reinstalled the gnome-package-kit RPM using YUM but the problem persisted.

I then decided to check out the PackageKit backend and here is what I found:

$ ls /usr/share/PackageKit/helpers/yum
drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root   4096 Jul  2 13:58 .
drwxr-xr-x. 4 root root   4096 Jul  2 13:58 ..
-rw-r--r--  1 root root   1752 Jun 22 09:33 licenses.txt
lrwxrwxrwx  1 root root     55 Jul  2 13:58 yumBackend.py -> /usr/share/PackageKit/helpers/yum/yumBackend.py.ksplice
-rw-r--r--  2 root root 101101 Jun 22 09:33 yumBackend.pyc
-rwxr-xr-x. 1 root root 148220 Jan 30 10:17 yumBackend.py.ksplice
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root root 147705 Jun 22 09:33 yumBackend.py.ksplice-orig
-rw-r--r--  2 root root 101101 Jun 22 09:33 yumBackend.pyo
-rw-r--r--  1 root root   7998 Jun 22 09:33 yum-comps-groups.conf
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root root   7961 Jun 22 09:33 yumComps.py
-rw-r--r--  2 root root   7404 Jun 22 09:33 yumComps.pyc
-rw-r--r--  2 root root   7404 Jun 22 09:33 yumComps.pyo
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root root   7652 Jun 22 09:33 yumFilter.py
-rw-r--r--  2 root root   6499 Jun 22 09:33 yumFilter.pyc
-rw-r--r--  2 root root   6499 Jun 22 09:33 yumFilter.pyo


Note the symbolic link to a Ksplice Python script (yumBackend.py.ksplice). For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ksplice Uptrack, it is an Oracle product that lets you apply kernel security updates released by your Linux vendor without rebooting your operating system. It is free to use with the Fedora distribution and this is the first time I have come across a problem using it. Oracle purchased Ksplice in 2011.

Once, I understand that Ksplice was involved in the PackageKit backend, I decided to change the yumBackend.py symbolic link to point at yumBackend.py.ksplice-orig. This fixed the problem for the moment. A few weeks after Fedora 19 is released, I plan to remove the Ksplice RPM and reinstall it. Hopefully a fix for the problem will be included in the reinstalled RPM.

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