Must Start gnome-session Manually for GNOME Software Button "Restart & Install" to Work (Xfce)

I have never used GNOME software, but since is the only way to stage package updates for install on reboot, AFAIK, I would like to start using it, now. But, I’m having troubles…

gnome-software let’s me check for system updates and download system updates. But, when I click the “Restart & Install” button, nothing happens, except I get this error in the journal:

Aug 23 12:22:41 wrangler gnome-software[3982]: Calling org.gnome.SessionManager.Reboot failed: GDBus.Error:org.freedesktop.DBus.Error.ServiceUnknown: The name org.gnome.SessionManager was not provided by any .service files

So, I started gnome-session manually and then the button worked, a reboot occurred and updates were installed.

Does anyone recognize this symptom?

In Xfce, I have “start GNOME services” checked. Is this not enough to have gnome-session started automatically? Is it supposed to be running? Why doesn’t gnome-software start it if it needs it?

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Probably this feature is not designed to work outside of GNOME session:
https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/mutter/issues/134

I think, you can get a more certain answer here:
https://discourse.gnome.org/

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Me personally, I still find it more transparent and verbose to do my updates with dnf.

I just manually reboot after applying updates – if I see the need to.

You can also simulate gnome-software’s behavior more closely by rebooting before applying updates, doing them in tty and not the graphical session, and rebooting again after doing so – though I’ve never seen a clear indication that’s useful.

Closing the session may be helpful in some cases, but rebooting before updates should be redundant.

Actually, rebooting after updates is not mandatory either, but it is usually faster than manually restarting the affected services and applications on a typical desktop/laptop.

See also:

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You might be right.

I wish there was a way to stage “offline” updates with some other tool, like DNF.

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Thanks @vgaetera & @nightromantic.

I’m very familiar with these DNF workflows. But, I recently had a second crash during DNF update that convinced me it is no longer safe to do updates that way, at least while a DE session is active. Apparently, others have been sounding the alarm for a while.

I find this idea antithetical to the UNIX/Linux ethos, but I’ve learned the hard way. The two problems have occurred in the recent past; I never had any trouble before that.

It’s not clear that the DE session is the issue, either. I’m not convinced that just logging out of the DE and going to the virtual console will be enough. I guess I could try it. I worry that it is actually some VM fragmentation or mem leaks, not something with the DE stack, that makes the update process unstable.

I’d like to know more about this. What about the DE can make package updates crash the system?

If it’s not the DE, then rebooting before is important. If it is the DE, then logging out of the DE and restarting services should work. Although, I doubt restarting all necessarily services is easier than just rebooting.

I like the idea of going to runlevel 1 or 3, doing the update, then back to runlevel 5. But, is that any quicker/easier than just rebooting twice? Maybe. I guess I could play around with these workflows.

It’s just that, it’s a great idea to automate this, and gnome-software did it. So, what do I gain by doing all that manually? Well, I can think of two things: I don’t have to use packagekit and it actually works without gnome-session.

Of course, it is not, but it should be enough to install the updates and reboot afterwards.
Note, that you should poweroff the VMs beforehand if you use virtualization.

To be clear, every time after update you should run:

sudo dnf needs-restarting

And restart the listed services and apps or reboot the system.