[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

About terminology for stable/testing/unstable

A recent discussion popped up in the French l10n mailing list
(http://lists.debian.org/debian-l10n-french/2006/04/msg00539.html, in
French) about the terminology to use for writing documentation and
making reference to stable/testing/unstable in various parts of our
documentation/web site and even packages (D-I for instance).

The discussion is still not finished to decide what term we should use
in our translations. We currently consistently use "distribution"
which has the same meaning than the English word.

However, when looking at various original documentation we have in the
project about this, it appears that some more consistency could be
achieved. "distribution" is sometimes used (as in
http://www.debian.org/releases/) but so is "suite" (for instance in
most code) and sometimes "version"

The most commonly used term seems to be "distribution", as in the FAQ
or most web pages that talk about stable/testing/unstable.

I however find that this term is somewhat confusing as, for many
outsiders, "distribution" is usually taken as a general term to talk
about different operating systems distributions (or, more trivially
speaking, about "Linux distributions") such as "the Mandriva
distribution", "the Debian distribution" and the like.

A good example of why this may be confusing is the installer. The
debconf question that currently prompts users for choosing between
stable/testing/unstable is labelled: "Debian version to install" dans
says "Debian comes in several flavors...."

The installer takes great care of being friendly to newcomers and it
seems quite significant to me that this term was chosen....probably
because "distribution" would have been too confusing.

My personal opinion is that we should maybe use "branch" rather than
"distribution" to avoid that confusion. This is what the French team
is considering (there are some people who object to this, though).

After all, from our users point of view and from what I see when
people use Debian, they choose between stable, testing and unstable
just as if they were choosing between various development branches of
the same software.

Of course, strictly speaking, testing is not a branch because it
mostly automatically derives from unstable but the difference is not
really obvious (and not really significant) for users.

That would leave us with:

Distribution: used to talk about Debian in general, whichever branch
              is used

Branch (or suite): used to talk about stable, testing and unstable
                   and explain differences between all of them or the
                   ways they are developed 

Release     : used to talk about the successive releases of
              Debian as a distribution: potato, woody, sarge....as
              well as the release updates

Version     : used when using numerical version numbers (3.1r2, etc..)

I understand this is somewhat tricky and it may become very easy to
nitpick about the assumptions I made above but I'd really like to see
us accept that not everything is easy to understand from an outsider
point of view, in our terminology.

Comments welcomed (heh, I subscribed to -project just for this...)


Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature

Reply to: