Dougal Campbell's geek ramblings

WordPress, web development, and world domination.

WordPress 2.8.1 Coming Soon

Right on the heels of version 2.8, we will be seeing a WordPress 2.8.1 release soon. There are several minor bugfixes in so far, mostly dealing with tweaks to plugin and menu management. But the big problem driving a quick update is a bug in the core upgrade feature. It seems that in the case where the upgrade can’t be completed for some reason, the upgrade feature was deleting the wrong files when it attempted to clean up. Oops!

On the bright side, when this did happen, it would only delete files that are part of the core package, not any of your plugin or theme files. So the failure could be fixed pretty easily, by just manually re-installing the 2.7.1 or 2.8 files from a zip archive. Nothing would be lost except perhaps a few heartbeats of panic.

Looking at the auto-upgrade process, here are the steps outlined in the code:

  1. Test unzipped location for select files to ensure that unzipped worked.
  2. Create the .maintenance file in current WordPress base.
  3. Copy new WordPress directory over old WordPress files.
  4. Upgrade WordPress to new version.
  5. Delete new WordPress directory path.
  6. Delete .maintenance file.
  7. Remove old files.
  8. Delete ‘update_core’ option.

What can happen is that if an error was detected in step 3, where it tried to copy the new files into place (probably due to file ownership or permissions), it was supposed to delete the directory of new files that it had downloaded and unzipped. Instead, it deleted from the main site directory. It was simply a case of the wrong variable being used. For those of you following the SVN repository, this has been corrected in trunk and in the 2.8 branch, where the 2.8.1 update will come from.

If you haven’t upgraded to WordPress 2.8 yet, but you want to, and you’re nervous about possibly running into this bug, you can either wait for 2.8.1 to be released or upgrade the “old fashioned” way, by unzipping and uploading the new files.

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal is a web developer, and a "Developer Emeritus" for the WordPress platform. When he's not coding PHP, Perl, CSS, JavaScript, or whatnot, he spends time with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat in their Atlanta area home.
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33 Responses to WordPress 2.8.1 Coming Soon

  1. Tim says:

    For an average site on average hosting, how long does the automatic upgrade process typically take? I’m running about 10 WP installs on my servers, and when I use the automatic upgrade function it takes about 20 minutes to run. It *seems* like it should go much faster than that based on your description of the steps above. When performing the upgrade the first message “downloading update from ….” doesn’t appear for nearly 15 minutes.

    Looking through the server logs it almost seems as if it is FTP’ing each individual file rather than the zip package and then unzipping. Everything upgrades fine– just takes much longer than I would have expected. Makes me want to go back to just making diffs and patching since those run in seconds.

  2. walter says:

    The Update per Site should take about one minute.

  3. seenu says:

    thanks for the update,
    any ETA for 2.8.1?

    iam running 2.6.5 and waiting for 2.8.1 seriously because 2.*.1 are better than 2.* because 2.*.1 comes with bugfixes 😉

    [btw, i really love this ajax quick edit comments feature in your site]

  4. Tom Sawyer says:

    I’m having this problem as well. I have the plugin to automatically update wordpress, but once I did it the visual screen is missing a lot when writing posts. People have said to re-install 2.8 to fix this, but when I try it I’m getting a failure – something about the core file.

  5. Can’t wait. Having a small issue in upgrading the plugins automatically

  6. It still surprises me that there is always a minor release just a few days after the main one. Like 2.7.1 after 2.7 and now 2.8.1 will be available soon after 2.8. I do understand that there will always be a few bugs that went through, just something that many have noticed. I have seen a few people say that they don’t bother to upgrade until the minor release is out.

    • Dougal says:

      Yes, but if you look back at those minor releases, you’ll often see that the bugs they fix are very obscure things that only affect a small percentage of users. This problem with the core upgrade feature is “big” in its potential impact, but only if you are in the smaller group of users that it actually affects. On the mailing lists, there are people who have upgraded 10 sites, and 9 upgrades went without a hitch, and only one had a problem.

      However, I also understand that a lot of users don’t have the technical skills to figure out for themselves whether this issue will affect them. My advice is to download the 2.8 zip file as a precaution, but then try the built-in upgrade feature. If it works, great! If it fails, use the zip file to perform the upgrade manually as you would have done in the past.

    • Joseph Scott says:

      2.7 was a really solid release, with 2.7.1 coming 2 months later. It would be great if every release is like that, but that’s not likely to be the case for every single one. As Dougal mentioned, it isn’t until the release becomes official that the more obscure bugs get reported.

  7. E-TARD says:

    I did the auto-upgrade from 2.7.1 to 2.8
    from the auto-upgrade worked fine everything was fine as far as the install
    also I use alot of plugins & all of them worked fine
    but one
    admin SSL plugin did not work
    alot of ppl were saying how twitter tools did not
    well it was working fine for me

    the one thing i did not like about 2.8 was how slow everything got
    pages were loading way more slow
    & WP plugins like Stats
    Akismet Configuration
    did made my WP slow down big time
    so I went back to 2.7.1

    I hope 2.8.1 will speed things up a bit

    • Dougal says:

      From what I had heard elsewhere, the new version was faster in the admin screens for most people. Are you using Google Gears? If so, you might try disabling then re-enabling it to force a reload of the gears files. I understand that there was some re-work of the Gears support in WordPress 2.8.

  8. george says:

    i run the blog with every post in secure mode under a password, when upgraded to 2.8, none of the posts could be found through the search bar. had to revert to 2.7

  9. Rob says:

    Love the ‘Ooops’.
    I automatically upgraded about a dozen installs, no errors reported but the process was not consistent. One would result in the ‘database needs upgrading etc’ screen followed by logging in again, another would produce a blank screen but had been successfully upgraded (just missing out a step I assume) and other variations.

    Upgrading was quick, but I would agree that (in all installs) load times are considerably slower than with 2.7 and produce more ‘failed attempt’ messages when publishing posts/pages. It appears to be the same on all installs, regardless of whether the upgrade process appeared ‘by the book’ or had a ‘missed a step’. No consistency in the errors/problems.

  10. jcwinnie says:

    Edited version.php in wp-includes. Footer now says I am running 2.8.1-dev. No noticeable difference.

    There remain problems, e.g., after posting ../wp-admin/post.php remains blank. A Quick Edit always produces an error message (although the edit seems to go thru) and, of course, the text in the Press This window is transparent, so uneditable until after saving and returning to the draft.

  11. Do you people upgrade everytime when a new version comes out regardless major or minor versions? Or, do you wait for the major versions; eg, 2.7 –> 2.8 –> 2.9 –> 3.0?

    • Not automatically on minor versions – unless the fix is a bug that affects me.
      In this case clearly if you already upgraded successfully to 2.8 (as I did), there s probably no point in upgrading to 2.8.1
      Major versions I generally do upgrade – almost immediately, within a week or two – just easier for any future support issues to be on the latest.

    • Vaibhav says:

      When I used to do it manually, I used to upgrade only major versions – but since auto-upgrade is built-in, I upgrade as soon as a new version is available

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  13. anas says:

    Will be a good try I think for some persons
    But not for me, better wait for the stable version 😀

    • Dennis Crane says:

      Yes, Anas. That is exactly what I’ve said recently about 2.8 release. We’ll see soon the queue of maintenance updates. I’ll also wait till the end of the summer.

  14. Bill says:

    Glad to see a fix is coming. I used tha auto install and lost quite a bit of functionality in the dashboard: inability to change time zones, blank screens after saving/updating posts, and the disappearance of the Text Widgets from the widgets page. I reinstalled manually and everything got fixed except that I still don’t have text widgets. Will 2.8.1 address this and if not do you know how I can get them back?


  15. Stuart says:

    I was hoping they would have fixed this problem: in 2.8 but no luck.

  16. Bug or not when new version, from RC, is available something tell me UPGRADE UPGRADE UPGRADE and simply i have to upgrade.

    Thats all … and bugs comes out if there are.


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  20. Vygantas says:

    If you upgrade to first .0 release, you probably deserve it.

  21. bolo says:

    What data will the new version release?

  22. cheeze says:

    I’m still confuse how to upgrade mine. i’d mess this up once and so i’m very careful from now on. can you give me the right link to where the proper instructions are? please.

  23. Zemalf says:

    Thanks for this info. I was lucky enough to go through the upgrade smoothly (updated almost immediately 2.8 was out) and I’ll be definately waiting a bit when the new versions come in.

  24. Wow! Was f?r eine Idee! Was f?r ein Konzept! Beautiful .. Erstaunlich

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