Why are Update Packs based on Testing rather than Sid?

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Why are Update Packs based on Testing rather than Sid?

Postby UnrealMiniMe on Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:50 pm

I'm starting to wonder what the reasoning was behind this decision. Debian Testing is notorious for its time-based rules and policies preventing frequently updated applications (in Sid) from commonly carrying over, even if the new versions are more stable. Even though these policies are meant to prevent unstable software from making it into Testing, it seems to break a lot anyway...and it takes forever before it gets fixed.

From what I understand, LMDE's Update Packs fix this problem by emphasizing manual testing of snapshots over automated time-based rules. However, since this manual testing is being done, it would make more sense to me if the snapshots were being taken from Sid rather than Testing: Not only is the software more recent, but despite frequent breakages, the frequent updates and fixes mean it usually doesn't take long to wait for a snapshot that actually works either. There might never be a time when everything works simultaneously in Sid, but Mint uses its own repositories, so it really only matters if the core components work in a Sid snapshot: User applications that happen to be broken for a few days in Sid could still be patched up with newer versions before releasing the Update Pack, right?

I'm assuming that the biggest obstacle is that the Mint/LMDE team doesn't actually have time to test all of the non-core packages, and due to the infrequency of updates, it's better to rely on Debian Testing's automated system to do some of that legwork. However, the technical success of the Sidux/aptosid distro indicates that Sid breakages can be largely avoided by testing and releasing core packages on a frequent basis, while letting user applications stay close to the bleeding edge. That's not to say releases should necessarily be as fast as that distro, because stability may be more of a focus, but I mean to say that the more dynamic nature of Sid should make it easier and less stressful to release updates more frequently and more "at will" (and the packages would be more current as well).

From my standpoint, the biggest shortcoming of the aptosid distro - the dealbreaker - is its aversion to anything having to do with Gnome, whereas Mint/LMDE's greatest strength is probably the ease with which users can pick Cinnamon or MATE. I'd love to have a distribution that leveraged the strengths of both, and I suspect that's what drove many people to LMDE in the first place over other related distributions: Debian Stable gets the security updates, but it's otherwise too outdated for most desktop users. Testing is both old and commonly broken, and fixes take forever. Sid is bleeding edge but breaks frequently. aptosid fixes that, but it's more imperative and controlling about desktop environment. (Technical difficulties with Gnome breaking more often than KDE and XFCE are sometimes cited, but the same issues shouldn't apply to a stable Gnome 2 clone like MATE.) Mint is a polished distro that provides the best choices of desktop environment, but its Ubuntu-like (Ubuntu-based) six month release cycle is too slow for many. I think LMDE's original appeal came from the idea of a reliable but frequently updated distribution based on Debian, which promotes a Gnome2-like interface. Instead, it's starting to look more like Debian Stable Mint Edition, except without the security updates, and so I wonder if it's struggling to find its purpose, especially compared to the standard Mint distribution.

All that said, I'm only passingly familiar with how all of this works. Am I missing something important here, or could a case be made for basing the LMDE Update Packs on Sid instead of Testing?
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Re: Why are Update Packs based on Testing rather than Sid?

Postby ketoth on Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:07 pm

Well actually Mint Debian won't update more frequently than Mint Ubuntu. I think the Mint team lacks lot of volunteers to test Sid-based packs deeply enough. Stability is here priority.
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Re: Why are Update Packs based on Testing rather than Sid?

Postby DrHu on Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:09 pm

You could make a case for any viewpoint, however a developer of a distribution would have to consider the average user type as the basis for any choices being made, at least to broaden its appeal

So, choosing testing rather than unstable is probably the best choice
--it offers later packaged applications and updates without irking an average user who may run into problems with a more experimental repository (unstable..)

And for anyone who wants to know, probably doesn't hurt to investigate the parent (upstream distribution), Debian in this case to see their methodologies..
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debian

I am using LMDE at the moment, and it wasn't because Gnome apps might be supported, I am quite happy with xfce as the desktop and if Gnome could be disappeared from the setup without any problems, I would be just as glad to remove that as well
--I certainly don't want Mono or some other Gnome-like features being installed: in fact I might go back to gentoo or LFS (Linux-from-Scratch) or some other that offers more user decision/choices for the desktop and functions being installed
[list[Even though I tweak the system(s) anyway, after an install..
--whether I use gnome, lxde, xfce, Puppy Slack0 5.3x or other(s)[/list]

I also find most of the desktops fast enough, including Gnome (Mint main edition), but I do prefer the desktop look to be simpler, no onscreen (big logon/logoff ) prompts for example, so I tend towards xfce: but don't like the OSX-like center panel, lxde also has a bigger onscreen logon/logout desktop..
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Re: Why are Update Packs based on Testing rather than Sid?

Postby rop75 on Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:30 pm

I don't see why LMDE should be based on sid.

The users who use Debian sid repos, are the users interested in using the latest version of the software, the users who don't want to wait a sec to use these latest versions (and they are not willing to wait til the UP is released to enjoy the newest versions of their favourite software)
.
I think that the average LMDE has nothing to do with the sid user, LMDE user wants to use a Debian like distro, and cares about stability but does not mind waiting some weeks til the next update package is released to update their applications (but doesn't want to wait for two years to update their applications and get the latest versions of the software -that is the reason why they are not interested in using Debian stable, but they don't care whether LMDE is based in testing or sid-).

Having said that, I guess that LMDE repos are based on testing rather that on sid because it is easier for the LMDE crew.
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Re: Why are Update Packs based on Testing rather than Sid?

Postby ringo32 on Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:56 am

think is better to build two repository stable and sid-testing, there are a lot of people like to use that repository then Sid it self...after a month freeze that repo and that will go to RC / Lmde testing it self... you can testit on some detail before go up to stable, i dont see a point.., first some community testing before you go to testing for stable repository...its a Hell of job if you each time 700mb of data must update... it can break a system to, with less changes will system better stable and changes can quicker fix ... then focus on huge packages...
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Re: Why are Update Packs based on Testing rather than Sid?

Postby mark1mint on Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:33 pm

I'm no expert,but I believe there is some logic in this:MintDebian is presented as a rolling release,yet for comparison Ubuntu Lucid (which I'm using right now on another partition),now nearing the end of its life cycle,still receives a constant stream of updates-it ironically seems more of a rolling release to my untrained eye :wink:
Not only that,I've also been experiencing a handful of issues with Compiz effects in LMDE (with MATE,one of the main reasons for me to turn to Mint definitively once Lucid is dismissed) right from the very beginning:it may be a compatibility issue with my Radeon card or simply the driver in the repo not being up to date,but at this point I wouldn't mind using more bleeding edge packages that may theoretically break something,but at the same time bring the possibility to fix this issue,and in any case fixes will likely come faster as discussed above.
Than there's the Firefox issue,its version lagging well behind the official Mozilla release schedule,which is kinda ironic when you take into account that Firefox in Ubuntu basically follows this schedule and it's not a rolling release-yes that can be easily fixed by downloading Firefox directly from Mozilla but still...
I'm not saying I don't like LMDE,quite the opposite,it's just not exactly what some people may expect it to be at this point,probably mostly because of this choice of tracking Debian testing and furthermore because of the update packs policy,which I understand has been done to shift the balance towards stability,but given that this distro is still IMHO unpolished in some aspects,why not go all the way and set up a sid repository as suggested in the post above.After all,this is in the LMDE webpage
Compared to a frozen version of Linux Mint which changes very little once it's publicly released, it's not as stable. Things are likely to break more often but fixes can also come quicker
and quite frankly I haven't seen much of this so far,it has been pretty static since I've installed it with only one major update-this may be due to a lack of resources or still small userbase for testing/bug reporting
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Re: Why are Update Packs based on Testing rather than Sid?

Postby mark1mint on Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:47 pm

I'm no expert,but I believe there is some logic in this:MintDebian is presented as a rolling release,yet for comparison Ubuntu Lucid (which I'm using right now on another partition),now nearing the end of its life cycle,still receives a constant stream of updates-it ironically seems more of a rolling release to my untrained eye :wink:
Not only that,I've also been experiencing a handful of issues with Compiz effects in LMDE (using MATE,one of the main reasons for me to turn to Mint definitively once Lucid is EOLed) right from the very beginning:it may be a compatibility issue with my Radeon card or simply the driver in the repo not being up to date,but at this point I wouldn't mind using more bleeding edge packages that may theoretically break something,but at the same time bring the possibility to fix this issue,and in any case fixes will likely come faster as discussed above.
Than there's the Firefox issue,its version has been lagging well behind the official Mozilla release schedule,which is kinda ironic when you take into account that Firefox in Ubuntu basically follows this schedule and it's not a rolling release-yes that can be easily fixed by downloading Firefox directly from Mozilla but still...
I'm not saying I don't like LMDE,quite the opposite,it's just not exactly what some people may expect it to be at this point,probably mostly because of this choice of tracking Debian testing and furthermore because of the update packs policy,which I understand has been done to shift the balance towards stability,but given that this distro is still IMHO unpolished in some aspects,why not go more experimental and set up a sid repository as suggested in the post above.After all,this is in the LMDE webpage
Compared to a frozen version of Linux Mint which changes very little once it's publicly released, it's not as stable. Things are likely to break more often but fixes can also come quicker
and quite frankly I haven't seen much of this so far,it has been pretty static since I've installed it with only one major update-this may be due to a lack of resources or other reasons I'm not aware of of,but IMHO the original idea underlined in this thread looks definitely not to be dismissed.
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