MintBackports (Up to date software for LinuxMint)

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MintBackports (Up to date software for LinuxMint)

Postby rahim on Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:31 am

Hello,

Here is a rather ambitious request, to solve a rather major problem with Ubuntu... I have noticed on forums that Ubuntu users (myself included) quickly become irritated by the lack of up to date software for their systems. Ubuntu releases usually start off with up to date software, but invariably a week after the Ubuntu release, Openoffice or Gimp or Mplayer has a major release, and users have to wait six months to get the latest version. Ubuntu's policy is "only security updates", and only for their officially supported applications. Even in the case of a security update to an official program that has since released an update with new features or bugfixes, Ubuntu only patches the software with the security fixes, and refuses to distribute the new features or even non-security bug fixes. Of course, Ubuntu does have their backports. I don't fully understand their backporting policy, but suffice to say their official backports are very few and very slow to be appear. You can see a list of all the backports here: http://packages.ubuntu.com/gutsy-backports/allpackages . There's not much. This is a shame, since most OSS developers are conscientious and already submit their releases to quality control, yet Ubuntu basically treats their work as "unstable / dangerous" until the next release. So I would propose MintBackports as a solution. And I think that the available MintBackups should be automatically generated on demand via a LinuxMint webpage. Here's a few examples of why I think this is necessary:

The Gimp
Current official version: 2.4.2
Current Gutsy version: 2.4.0~rc3-1ubuntu7
Gutsy-backports version: N/A

Pidgin IM
Current official version: 2.3.0
Current Gutsy version: 2.2.1-1ubuntu4.1
Gutsy-backports version: N/A

gscan2pdf
Current official version: 0.9.19
Current Gutsy version: 0.9.13-0ubuntu1
Gutsy-backports version: N/A

So here we have two enormously popular applications that are already quite outdated and unavailable in backports. And if you've never heard of gscan2pdf, I mentioned that as an example of why we need MintBackports with the ability for users to submit links to new software and have it automatically compiled. There are many obscure programs that a few users really depend on, and they would normally pass under the radar of package maintainers. But if a user could simply sumbit a link and then download the program a few minutes later, it would entirely be in the control of users. And of course the packages could be retained for the second and third user who comes along looking for an update to their favorite uncommon application. Nobody would have to wait around for a developer to come back from vacation or finish a major project in order to have his favorite application updated. Would this compromise security a bit? Yes, perhaps. But if we don't have MintBackports, users will go digging around on the internet until they find some site like
Code: Select all
http://funkypages.globalserver.net/publicusers/hsas567/q344342344344/42344qwerty332/~ubuntuhacker/myfavoriteapps/gObscurity-2.0.1.deb
and install it. That's definitely no more secure than having a central MintBackports repository that users can flag or report as dangerous or broken any bad app that does sneak in.

So, any suggestions or comments on this proposal? Thanks for the help!
rahim
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Re: MintBackports (Up to date software for LinuxMint)

Postby clem on Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:11 am

I only want to comment about the technical side of things, not about the backport strategy. The new repositories (which Daryna already use) come with a section called "backport" which is basically meant for that. It's disabled by default.

We also have Romeo for each release so we can actually do the same as Debian and bring software to Romeo users first and then to Daryna backport users without affecting normal users (people who don't change their repositories basically).

I'll look into Gimp, Pidgin and gscan2pdf to see if we put them in there.

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Re: MintBackports (Up to date software for LinuxMint)

Postby rahim on Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:37 am

Thanks for the reply Clem!

What about the other side of the problem? I personally don't like bothering developers or package maintainers to create a package for me. Is there any way to create a web script that allows a user to sumbit a URL to a .tar.gz file or possibly a deb.src file and create a package automatically? I think that would really be ideal.
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Re: MintBackports (Up to date software for LinuxMint)

Postby oblivion02 on Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:11 am

That sounds a bit complicated, and bad for the web server hosting the script, because he would have to keep the compiled package in his server until you download it. I think what would be MOST convinient is a desktop application that takes source and compiles it into a package. Maybe thats more viable.

-Oblivion
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Re: MintBackports (Up to date software for LinuxMint)

Postby rahim on Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:29 am

Hey there again Oblivion and Clem,

There's a few reasons why I didn't suggest a desktop application to compile source into a deb package..... First, it takes a long time to compile things, especially on old computers with large programs. Second, in order to compile, it's necessary to download a rather large amount of -dev libraries, which require a lot of disk space and make the system feel cluttered. Finally, many users still don't have fast broadband internet access, so they need to be able to minimize time spent downloading development libs and large source packages.

I think the server could fairly easily take care of the this. It would obviously cache the packages and make them publicly available, so that once the first user submits OpenOffice 3.0.0, all subsequent users will be notified that it already exists if they try to upload it again. And if it got to the point where the system was extremely loaded down with compile requests, a load scheduler can be fairly easily set up, and compile requests can be put in queue.
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Re: MintBackports (Up to date software for LinuxMint)

Postby Acid7711 on Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:16 am

Personally, this is one of the things that keeps me going back to Arch. I hate not having up-to-date software, but I do love Mint. I'd love to see something like this implemented somehow. Keeping all the major things, maybe even compiz-fusion a little more up to date. Firefox, Amarok, Pidgin, Fusion, Mplayer. These are the things I use all the time. I really wish they would implement a side branch into Ubuntu. That way those who want the traditional security updates will get them, and those who like a little more bleeding edge get that too.

It really would be the best of both worlds.


EDIT - I just thought of another good one; Nvidia-beta drivers. The changes are nice and they've improved upon many things. I know how easy they are to install by hand, and it's not that I'm too lazy to update all these things by hand, it's just I like keeping a tidy system with a package manager that's well aware of everything that's installed.
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