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documentation.suse.com / The Adaptable Linux Platform Guide / Transactional updates

3 Transactional updates

3.1 What are transactional updates?

The Adaptable Linux Platform (ALP) was designed to use a read-only root file system. This means that after the deployment is complete, you are not able to perform direct modifications to the root file system, for example, by using the zypper command. Instead, ALP introduces the concept of transactional updates which enables you to modify your system and keep it up to date.

3.2 How do transactional updates work?

Each time you call the transactional-update command to change your system—either to install a package, perform an update or apply a patch—the following actions take place:

Procedure 3.1: Modifying the root file system
  1. A new read-write snapshot is created from your current root file system, or from a snapshot that you specified.

  2. All changes are applied (updates, patches or package installation).

  3. The snapshot is switched back to read-only mode.

  4. The new root file system snapshot is prepared, so that it will be active after you reboot.

  5. After rebooting, the new root file system is set as the default snapshot.


    Bear in mind that without rebooting your system, the changes will not be applied.


If you do not reboot your machine before performing further changes, the transactional-update command will create a new snapshot from the current root file system. This means that you will end up with several parallel snapshots, each including that particular change but not changes from the other invocations of the command. After reboot, the most recently created snapshot will be used as your new root file system, and it will not include changes done in the previous snapshots.

3.3 Software repositories

The current ALP image points to the following two software repositories:



This repository is enabled. It is a subset of the build repository and an equivalent of the POOL repository known from other SUSE software products. It will remain unchanged until the release of the next ALP prototype.


If you need a package which is not included in the ALP repository, you may find it in the ALP-Build repository. To enable it, run:

# zypper mr -e ALP-Build


This repository is disabled by default. It is used for building the project. It includes all packages built in the SUSE:ALP project in the build service and will be moving forward over the time with future development.

3.4 Benefits of transactional updates

  • They are atomic—the update is applied only if it completes successfully.

  • Changes are applied in a separate snapshot and so do not influence the running system.

  • Changes can easily be rolled back.

Usage of the transactional-update command

3.6.1 transactional-update usage

The transactional-update command enables the atomic installation or removal of updates. Updates are applied only if all of them can be successfully installed. transactional-update creates a snapshot of your system and uses it to update the system. Later you can restore this snapshot. All changes become active only after reboot.

The transactional-update command syntax is as follows:

transactional-update [option] [general_command] [package_command] standalone_command
Note: Running transactional-update without arguments

If you do not specify any command or option while running the transactional-update command, the system updates itself.

Possible command parameters are described further.

transactional-update options
--interactive, -i

Can be used along with a package command to turn on interactive mode.

--non-interactive, -n

Can be used along with a package command to turn on non-interactive mode.

--continue [number], -c

The --continue option is for making multiple changes to an existing snapshot without rebooting.

The default transactional-update behavior is to create a new snapshot from the current root file system. If you forget something, such as installing a new package, you have to reboot to apply your previous changes, run transactional-update again to install the forgotten package, and reboot again. You cannot run the transactional-update command multiple times without rebooting to add more changes to the snapshot, because this will create separate independent snapshots that do not include changes from the previous snapshots.

Use the --continue option to make as many changes as you want without rebooting. A separate snapshot is made each time, and each snapshot contains all the changes you made in the previous snapshots, plus your new changes. Repeat this process as many times as you want, and when the final snapshot includes everything you want, reboot the system, and your final snapshot becomes the new root file system.

Another useful feature of the --continue option is that you may select any existing snapshot as the base for your new snapshot. The following example demonstrates running transactional-update to install a new package in a snapshot based on snapshot 13, and then running it again to install another package:

# transactional-update pkg install package_1
# transactional-update --continue 13 pkg install package_2

Disables self-updating of transactional-update.

--drop-if-no-change, -d

Discards the snapshot created by transactional-update if there were no changes to the root file system. If there are some changes to the /etc directory, those changes merged back to the current file system.


The transactional-update command will not output to stdout.

--help, -h

Prints help for the transactional-update command.


Displays the version of the transactional-update command.

The general commands are the following:

General commands

The command marks all unused snapshots that are intended to be removed.


The command removes all unused overlay layers of /etc.


The command combines the cleanup-snapshots and cleanup-overlays commands.


Use this command to rebuild the GRUB boot loader configuration file.


The command reinstalls the boot loader.


Use the command to rebuild initrd.


In case you perform changes to your hardware or storage, you may need to rebuild the kdump initrd.


Opens a read-write shell in the new snapshot before exiting. The command is typically used for debugging purposes.


The system reboots after the transactional-update command is complete.

run <command>

Runs the provided command in a new snapshot.


Installs and enables targeted SELinux policy.

The package commands are the following:

Package commands

Performs upgrade of your system. The default option for this command is --non-interactive.


The command migrates your system to a selected target. Typically, it is used to upgrade your system if it has been registered via SUSE Customer Center.


Checks for available patches and installs them. The default option for this command is --non-interactive.

pkg install

Installs individual packages from the available channels using the zypper install command. This command can also be used to install Program Temporary Fix (PTF) RPM files. The default option for this command is --interactive.

# transactional-update pkg install package_name


# transactional-update pkg install rpm1 rpm2
pkg remove

Removes individual packages from the active snapshot using the zypper remove command. This command can also be used to remove PTF RPM files. The default option for this command is --interactive.

# transactional-update pkg remove package_name
pkg update

Updates individual packages from the active snapshot using the zypper update command. Only packages that are part of the snapshot of the base file system can be updated. The default option for this command is --interactive.

# transactional-update pkg update package_name

Registers or deregisters your system. For a complete usage description, refer to Section, “The register command”.


Updates installed packages to newer versions. The default option for this command is --non-interactive.

The standalone commands are the following:

Standalone commands
rollback <snapshot number>

This sets the default subvolume. The current system is set as the new default root file system. If you specify a number, that snapshot is used as the default root file system. On a read-only file system, it does not create any additional snapshots.

# transactional-update rollback snapshot_number
rollback last

This command sets the last known to be working snapshot as the default.


This prints a list of available snapshots. The currently booted one is marked with an asterisk, the default snapshot is marked with a plus sign. The register command

The register command enables you to handle all tasks regarding registration and subscription management. You can supply the following options:


With this option, the command will list available extensions for your system. You can use the output to find a product identifier for product activation.

-p, --product

Use this option to specify a product for activation. The product identifier has the following format: <name>/<version>/<architecture>, for example, sle-module-live-patching/15.3/x86_64. The appropriate command will then be the following:

# transactional-update register -p sle-module-live-patching/15.3/x86_64
-r, --regcode

Register your system with the registration code provided. The command will register the subscription and enable software repositories.

-d, --de-register

The option deregisters the system, or when used along with the -p option, deregisters an extension.

-e, --email

Specify an email address that will be used in SUSE Customer Center for registration.


Specify the URL of your registration server. The URL is stored in the configuration and will be used in subsequent command invocations. For example:

# transactional-update register --url https://scc.suse.com
-s, --status

Displays the current registration status in JSON format.


Writes the provided options value to the /etc/SUSEConnect configuration file.


Removes old system credentials.


Prints the version.


Displays the usage of the command.