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testing, unstable, and dependencies

I'm just a lowly user and don't subscribe to this list so please forgive me if this doesn't make sense or has already been discussed to death.

I really like using the Debian distro except for one thing. (No, I'm not going to say the installation.;-) ) It would be nice if select packages could be installed from testing or unstable onto a system running stable (or from unstable onto testing) without the need to upgrade core libraries such as libc. If I'm forced to upgrade core libraries, I might as well just run unstable. I have no problem with running the same version of a core OS for years on a Workstation as long as security updates are available (e.g. Debian stable). But not having new versions of applications like Moz or OpenOffice for a year or more is annoying.

Also, what happens with security updates for people running testing when unstable is backed up because of something like the new libc? Am I correct in thinking that they get no security fixes unless they "upgrade" to unstable?

If packages in testing/unstable were compiled against libraries in stable when possible, things could be more selectively upgraded. This would make running stable between the infrequent releases less painful. It would also allow better testing of packages if everything weren't backed up due to the new libc in unstable, and in general make running testing right now less painful as well.

I suppose things like the new libc get more testing this way. However, people who run unstable would be testing the new libc anyway. Any additional testing would be the result of people being forced to upgrade libc to install a newer version of some other package from unstable. While that does result in more testing, essentially forcing people to run unstable who don't want to seems like an unpleasant way to go about it. Why have testing at all then?

Is it not possible to compile packages in unstable against libraries in stable? I relealize that there are cases where a package requires features introduced in a newer version of a library, but couldn't that be handled with dependencies?

I another possible solution might be to have seperate release cycles for the core OS components and other groups of interdependent applications rather than one monolithic release. Would something like that be feasible?


Jason Kraftcheck

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