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Re: Two suggestions for woody release

On Wed, Jan 30, 2002 at 11:41:24AM -0600, Chad C. Walstrom wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 30, 2002 at 10:44:04AM -0600, Steve Langasek wrote:
> > Yes, of course there's apt pin support, but the people we're most
> > concerned about not accidentally running unstable are the ones least
> > capable of figuring out pin support on their own.  

> I don't really understand where you get this idea.  /etc/apt/preferences
> is a very simple file.


> Of course, I'm a knowledgable Debian user.  This isn't necessarily the
> easiest thing for a newbie to do, but do we want newbies screwing around
> with this if they can't figure out how to RTFM?  I'd say, "No."

Well, for better or for worse, Debian excels at getting package 
management right; which means that in spite of the best efforts of some,
there are some real idiots running Debian. ;)  Thomas raised the issue 
in the context of being able to close out bug reports to everyone's 
satisfaction.  Requiring the maintainer to feed the user references to 
TFM, as well as specifics about setting up the preferences file, isn't 
very satisfying because it creates more work for developers; declaring 
that particularly dense users don't need to do this kind of stuff is to 
ignore the issue, because it's precisely the users who aren't 
comfortable running unstable (for whatever reason) that are going to 
hound developers.

IMHO, none of the existing alternatives today for a user fighting a bug
in stable, including suggesting that a user set up their own 
apt_preferences file by hand, are particularly good.  I believe a 
failsafe preferences / sources.list combination that gives the desired 
results, or a front-end that allows newbie-safe configuration of 
preferences, is a less-bad option.  To my knowledge, this is not 
available today; at least, the woody install I did last week gave me 
only woody lines in my sources.list, and no preferences file at all.

Yes, there are risks with making it easier for users to pull from 
unstable, but it's the individual maintainer assuming that risk by 
advising a user to override the apt defaults.  We may as well try to 
mitigate the risk incurred by the maintainer in such a situation.  
The reality is, even though some maintainers may be careful never to 
explicitly tell a user to install unstable on a production machine to 
solve their problem, the implication is there that if you want the 
latest bug fixes in a timely manner, that's what you have to do.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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