[kwlug-disc] definition of debian's "stable"?

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Sun Aug 16 16:20:07 EDT 2009

Robert P. J. Day wrote, On 08/16/2009 3:17 PM:
>   i'll keep reading the FAQ and the rest of the online docs but, at
> this point, i have to say that the explanations online for this are
> really pretty confusing, frequently contradicting one another.  debian
> versioning seriously deserves a comprehensive and complete
> explanation.

This makes me wonder (not for the first time) - a frequent comment 
regarding packages, etc., is for one to look to see if it is being 
actively maintained or is dead in the water. And an element of 
packages is documentation.

So I have to wonder if Rob is encountering 'current' documentation 
(where 'current' only means the last time someone updated a document, 
which could be years ago) that is out of date in the sense of not 
matching current convention. e.g. x.0 -> x.0.1 (probably) has both bug 
fixes and security patches. (Arguably a bug fix is a security patch? 
On the other hand, I believe I've seen where package B has taken steps 
to work around bugs in package A, which it 'cooperates' with, and 
someone finally fixing that bug in package A breaks package B.)

Or to summarize, is it possible the current documentation Rob is 
reading no longer matches current convention?

Other thoughts:

- it is my impression that Debian is an older distro than Red Hat.
- it is my impression that Debian struggles to not re-invent the 
wheel, even when people would really like it to, and so creates 
superset applications. e.g. dpkg -> apt -> aptitude -> synaptic. Thus 
people coming along much later have a multi-layer, inconsistent, 
onion, to chew through to grok the whole. Rather than silently 
deprecating the group in favour of one or two coherent replacement 
applications that make consistent the design experience and results of 
all the prior efforts.
- things like yum and rpm have come along since dpkg, in a different 
distro., making different onions with some fewer layers.
- akin to kde vs. gnome.
- one of the reasons Windows is popular is because in general it 
presents the 'one true way.' Linux presents many 'one true ways' and 
says which one would you like today. But for the 'new user', they have 
to grok all of it to figure out which flavour they like best, and stop 
early. When all the flavours don't mesh together, frustration sets in.

- my guess, and it's a guess, is x.0.1 has bug fixes and security 
patches for x.0.
- x.1 has (some) more developed packages than x.0.
- (x+1).0 has more developed major packages. e.g. The buntus switched 
from x to (x+1) which brought along kde 4 instead of kde 3 for the 
first time.
- the difference being what one calls 'major'. I'm not sure that that 
definition isn't arbitrary. Akin to what constitutes the 'OS' vs. 
applications packaged with the OS.
- it doesn't help that every element has its own release numbering system.
- witness the kernel. And the same kernel rev. in each distro will 
probably have different distro version numbers.

- wasn't there something in the news last year or the year before 
wherein Debian recognized that their packaging system was ungainly, 
and was going to work with others to harmonize software distribution. 
i.e. Migrate to rpm / yum?
- these threads point out yet again that 'it should just be easier.' 
(Got me how to make it so.)
- An earlier list thread pointed out how one should just be able to 
download a 'package', double-click setup, and get on with their day. 
And they should be able to repeat that experience on any other 
machine. That may be a pipe dream, but I can sure appreciate the 

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