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Suggested 'upgrade-prereq' distribution

I mentioned this idea recently at a deep part of a thread, but somehow
it never seemed to get delivered (at least it's not in the archives)
so it probably didn't get noticed ;-) As the idea is interesting by
itself, I would like to repost this email, edited for the purpose.

The problem is that whenever something like dpkg tries to introduce a
new feature, we have to wait for at least two distributions before we
can assume that people have an up-to-date version.

I propose having a distribution called "upgrade-prereq" (pointing to
upgrade-prereq-woody initially) which contains the package
upgrade-prereq and any *major* packages which are necessary for a
significant number of packages from testing/unstable to work.  These
would have to be compiled on a stable system, so that they can be
installed on a stable system.  Then we would have to educate users
(debian(-devel)-announce) that for partial upgrades, one must add the
upgrade-prereq distribution to the /etc/apt/sources.list and install
the package upgrade-prereq.  This package would have versioned depends
on all of the packages in the upgrade-prereq distribution.

Examples of packages which would be suitable for the upgrade-prereq

  dpkg   for such things as dpkg-log
  apt    if a new version is needed to handle something special
         in testing/unstable
  man-db for partial upgrades to potato (FHS issue)

We could even make upgrade-prereq an essential package in the stable
distribution which depends upon the correct versions of these
packages, and somehow (how?) ensure that when upgrading the
distribution, the upgrade-prereq package is upgraded first, pulling in
the versions of the key packages needed for the upgrade.

Does this sound at all reasonable?



  Julian Gilbey, Dept of Maths, QMW, Univ. of London. J.D.Gilbey@qmw.ac.uk
        Debian GNU/Linux Developer,  see http://www.debian.org/~jdg
  Donate free food to the world's hungry: see http://www.thehungersite.com/

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