The question "How do you approach centralised patch management for Linux?" seems to fall pretty straightforwardly under the auspices of "Operations, maintenance, and monitoring".

Despite the fact that it uses the word "you" it really isn't a particularly subjective or opinion-based question (any more than most) and it isn't really a product question, either, since the guy doesn't say s/he wants a list of products; just a solution to the given (pretty common) ops problem.

I ran across it because I'm having a similar issue, and none of the provided answers are proving particularly helpful; an issue which I doubt would persist if the question were reopened (though I could be wrong).


I know it's less common for questions like this, so I should clarify I am not the original asker.

  • 2
    The question isn't closed, it's locked. If the first answer from @voretaq7 isn't helpful then perhaps you should (carefully) ask your own questions. It'll be interesting to hear why the stuff mentioned in that answer isn't useful to you.
    – user9517
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 16:02

3 Answers 3


You state:

it really isn't a particularly subjective or opinion-based question

and yet then state:

I'm having a similar issue, and none of the provided answers are proving particularly helpful

If it truly wasn't opinion-based or subjective then the accepted answer and/or upvoted answers would work for you in your environment as well. As it stands, the answers are educated opinions of how to handle the issue of patch management.

I think Voretaq's answer and especially his first Wikipedia link more than covered it for what the OP was after. His answer should at least have spurred you on to further research online to zero in on solutions for your particular environment.

All that said, there isn't anything wrong with GOOD subjective questions here, but they still end up being scrutinized like crazy and often closed when they tiptoe the line of being product recommendations in disguise.

  • 1
    Well, I'll grant "product recommendations in disguise" could be an issue here. And that, since the question has an accepted answer, that's pretty solid evidence the original asker's problem was solved. It just bugged me that, despite the fact that the question asked "How did you do X", everyone just decided to answer the question "What did you use to do X", which isn't really the same thing, and now the question's locked that can't be rectified. TL;DR? Your argument is a fair one. Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 16:15
  • They likely answered that way because answering with "First Bob submits a request via TrackIt, then Mary opens a spreadsheet on Sharepoint..." is too localized of a process. The process of patching servers is simple: 1) pre-patch things you do 2) patch 3) post-patch things you do. Unfortunately, we can really only attempt to answer #2 (hence product recommendations). #1 and #3 will differ in every environment. And even #2 is very localized in its actual implementation.
    – TheCleaner
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 16:27

In addition to elements of opinion-based/subjective and product recommendation, it's really broad, so there's plenty of justification for closing it or locking it. When you get right down to it, the answer to "how do you handle patch management" is "with the following product."

And, although you can't see it with your rep, that question was locked by ChrisS shortly after someone dropped a now-deleted late answer on the question saying "I use the following product."

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It seems safe to say that the question in question was locked for being a spam-magnet, which already had a couple other strikes against it.

  • The fact that people answered with "with the following product" simply indicates they misread the question. "How" implies a process question; not only what did you use, but how did you get it to do that. s Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 15:48
  • I'm guessing Chris deleted that answer because Eric had already answered with Spacewalk. So it was more of a "me too" comment to an answer that was a year older.
    – TheCleaner
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 15:50
  • 2
    @ParthianShot "How do you imbed a nail in a piece of wood?" "Hit it with a a hammer." "How do you approach centralised patch management for Linux?" "Use the following application." Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 15:54
  • If you ask someone "How do you fly a kite" and they answer "with my hands" that answer, while it may be technically correct (in that hands were involved), is a problem with the answerer rather than the question itself. "How", I would argue, is a question of process, rather than ingredient, and if I want to determine which process is easiest to work with (which I will cede does depend on products used) a good barometer is "How much effort must people go through to accomplish something simple?". Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 15:57
  • If someone simply says that they "used spacewalk" they're not clarifying what that use entailed, so they're not really answering how they accomplished their goal. The answer "Hit it with a a hammer." is good because it specifies "Hit". If you just said "Used a hammer" the person still has no idea how to do the job. Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 15:59
  • When people say "I used Puppet" they're obscuring the fact that, to use Puppet, they had to do some awful things Puppet was not designed to do. It is not for patch management. Its whole purpose is implementation-agnosticism, which is the antithesis of patch management. Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 16:02
  • If people used Spacewalk, they could have clarified that doing so required them to skirt the gaping holes in spacewalk documentation, and manually configure new installs because the documentation on "answer files" doesn't exist (incidentally, I actually read through the source and wrote my own docs for that format). Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 16:04
  • @ParthianShot This is really not the best place to rant about Spacewalk's crappy documentation, the unholy mess you can make of Puppet or whatever else... though your comment string certainly does help make the case for closing/locking that question being the proper course of action. Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 16:06
  • @HopelessN00b " This is really not the best place to rant" True. My point wasn't about the products themselves, merely what the people who just said "I used X" left out of their answers. Locking the question means no one can provide more comprehensive answers, and no one can expand upon existing answers, which is a shame. That was all I was trying to say with the above. Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 16:12
  • I was curious about the assertion that PS couldn't see that it was closed because of his rep, so I logged out and looked at the question again. It's still very clear that it was locked by Chris S on the date given, so I think in formulating responses we don't need to be concerned that the OP couldn't see the question was locked.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 7:03
  • 1
    @MadHatter Because of his rep, the OP couldn't see the deleted post that was ostensibly the trigger for locking that thread. "Me too"/spam answer deleted by Chris S♦ Jun 17 '13 at 3:22 and then thread locked by Chris S♦ Jun 17 '13 at 3:23. Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 11:05
  • Ah, right - yes, sorry, that makes a lot of sense.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 11:39

Well, other than the question being over a year old at this point, the question will definitely attract subjective opinions rather than cold, hard facts that a Q&A site normally delivers.

Plus, said advice is likely to be obsolete in a certain time which is why ServerFault (an SE in general) locks questions asking for recommendations which this particular question will also attract.

Put simply, there's more than one way to solve that problem and it'd take a book (in fact, there are books) on the subject to get anywhere.


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