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Re: Apt repository interoperability (was: Bug#311188: Debian edu messed up my Ubuntu system.)

[Removed bug address from cc list because it blurs the log]

On Sun, 20 Apr 2008, Herman Robak wrote:

Andreas, you are completely right.  However, this story is being told
again and again and again.  Why?  Because it violates assumptions that
many, many users make.  Especially those new to Linux.

Well, it is a different thing between adjusting user opinions and
handling bugs in the BTS.  The first is a question of teaching and
the second is a technical issue and the wrong channel for teaching.
People might blame me about the usual Debian-Ubuntu unfriendlyness
but I see no reason to be more friendly to an Ubuntu user than to
anybody else who files a bug report that does not belong to us. It
is not that I do not *want* to help but I'm simply *unable* to help
because I have no chance to test it ibecause I simply do not run Ubuntu.
You might consider my phrase:

  If you might send us a patch that would work on Ubuntu while not breaking
  anything in Debian we might consider applying it.

as the willingness to accept helping Ubuntu users if they *enable*
me to help.  (BTW, I think doing this I went farther than other DDs.)

For a user of "Linux for human beings" (Ubuntu) the principle of least
surprise is violated when an action that is likely to break Ubuntu can
happen without a warning.  A big fat warning would suffice, if the
purpose is to wash hands, saying "we told you so!".

So you would like to file a wishlist bug to the Ubuntu BTS that
users should be warned if they include Debian related apt lines??
I'm keen on hearing what Ubuntu developers says about this. ;-)

Repositories that look alike on the surface may or may not play nice
with each other.  They may be binary incompatible.  Their maintainers
may not endorse (i.e. support) other repositories that are intended to
be binary compatible, either.  Users who add third party repositories
are left to figure out this for themselves.  It's as if adding an apt
repository is an expert operation; User Beware!

But how to solve this technically???
Patch any editor (including echo and cat that might ">>/etc/apt/sources.list)
to issue a warning about possibly dangerous results when you change
the repositories?

In how far is this action more or less dangerous as any other action
done by root?

Apt is an awesome package manager framework.  It has a lot of power!
But it is a powertool with few safety features aimed at Joe Average.

But root is not Joe Average.  If Joe Average decided to become root
he takes over some responsibility.  We can't help here if he has
not read the docs before.

I don't think we want to advertise loudly the lack of such safety
features.  But unless we do, I think it is the duty of Debian and its
derivatives to improve the safety nets.


Kind regards



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