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Why are many applications in the software repositories not the latest versions?


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#1 Al1000

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 06:20 AM

Here's something I came across in The Debian GNU/Linux FAQ the other day, but I think the same would apply to most GNU/Linux software repositories.

The stable distributions really contains outdated packages. Just look at Kde, Gnome, Xorg or even the kernel. They are very old. Why is it so?

Well, you might be correct. The age of the packages at stable depends on when the last release was made. Since there is typically over 1 year between releases you might find that stable contains old versions of packages. However, they have been tested in and out. One can confidently say that the packages do not have any known severe bugs, security holes etc., in them. The packages in stable integrate seamlessly with other stable packages.

https://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/debian-faq/ch-choosing.en.html#s3.1.3

It would surely take an inordinate amount of testing, and compiling new and/or additional dependencies for each new version of the many thousands of applications in the software repositories, for the people who look after the repositories to upgrade each application every time a new version comes out.

While many packages in the software repositories are not the latest versions, because there's only so much that any one group of people, who I imagine are mostly volunteers, can do; we can be sure that the versions that are there have all been extensively tested to work on the various operating systems before being added to their respective repositories.

It also seems that the likelihood of an application being upgraded to a newer version, is broadly proportional to its popularity and whether an older version would present a security risk. So obscure command line applications in the software repositories might be several versions behind, but something like Firefox will be updated to the latest version pretty much straight away.

The Debian GNU/Linux FAQ also mentions that with Debian there is a choice of operating systems and their respective repositories; Stable, Testing and Unstable.



Stable is rock solid. It does not break and has full security support. But it not might have support for the latest hardware.

Testing has more up-to-date software than Stable, and it breaks less often than Unstable. But when it breaks, it might take a long time for things to get rectified. Sometimes this could be days and it could be months at times. It also does not have permanent security support.

Unstable has the latest software and changes a lot. Consequently, it can break at any point. However, fixes get rectified in many occasions in a couple of days and it always has the latest releases of software packaged for Debian.

(Please note that I have only had Debian installed for a few days, and am not trying to recommend it here, but am just using the FAQ to explain why many applications in the software repositories of most Linux distributions are not the latest versions.)

The same is true to a lesser extent and in a slightly different way, with Linux Mint, as it holds back certain updates by default.

Edited by Al1000, 20 February 2015 - 06:33 AM.


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#2 TsVk!

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 07:09 AM

I've been using Debian for about 2 years now... stable really is stable. No need to upgrade in any of my experience, until the repository gives it to me.

 

edit: that said I've got Mint Debian at home (this computer) for the family. Far more issues, but some could be user related. All the Windows dramas (I deal with constantly at work) are gone though, woohoo! Seems it is easier for 6 year olds to use Linux rather than Windows... anecdotal evidence.


Edited by TsVk!, 20 February 2015 - 07:25 AM.


#3 Al1000

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 08:53 AM

I didn't consider installing any other than the Stable version of Debian.

I like it so far and reckon I'll probably stick with it, and I also see how Mint is more user-friendly for people who haven't used Linux before.

Edited by Al1000, 20 February 2015 - 08:54 AM.


#4 shadow-warrior

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 09:26 AM

You can always go for a Rolling Release type distro and have the very latest "Bleeding Edge" apps....Manjaro which is based on Arch linux  has a stable version which is updated every 2 weeks ..and its testing version and untested version will be shorter than that.. 

 

I runa Manjaro machine and have the latest Kernel latest version of FF etc etc...and after 3yrs never had any issues... similarly with Calculate Linux the gentoo based distro...thats is always the very latest  though with that you compile everything from its source...which can take an eternity

 

I don't actually see much benefit by having the very latest apps...very often little changes in it



#5 myrti

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 09:39 AM

Hi,

I wouldn't necessarily recommend stable for a home user when it comes to Debian.. Stable really means stable, it doesn't need reboots and can run forever when there's no security issues. If you want to reboot less than once per months and don't mind missing out on ntfs support and similar, that's the version for you. For servers I would recommend it. It has a release schedule of 2-3 years, at which point new versions of programs will normally incorporated.
This means you are usually quite behind on software releases. I don't know about testing, last time I was looking at Debian they had the "experimental" branch, which would contain stable and reliable programs but not as outdated as the versions that are in the stable release. I f that's what the is now called the "testing" release, this is what I would recommend for end-users, they do half year-yearly releases and therefore incorporate newer versions much more freuqently if they are stable.

Ubuntu (and thereby also Mint) is really an early-adopter.. You will find almost all versions packaged for this distro within a few days of their release.
They do usually include the latest released version of any package into their distro, if you want to have the "newest" version of something, this is the way to go. You can also add unstable/testing repositories to get even newer versions, though I wouldn't necessarily recommend this unless you're experiencing issues with current releases.
I will always remember their decision to upgrade KDE4 in 2008. I upgraded and ended up with a system that was barely stable for 50min before something crashed. It took a lot of special releases and version-fixing to find a configuration that would run on my system. It took another 2 years before it really became usable (that's 4 releases of Ubuntu) and another year after that before Debian did the move to kde4 with wheeze in 2011.
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#6 pcpunk

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 03:23 PM

In light of all this, how many of you allow 4 and 5 level Updates?  I think this is still somewhat on topic, just omit if it's not.

 

When asking this in another post I stated that I had been using them for about six months with no apparent issues.  I'm a techie novice so I won't be allowing them, but I'm guessing that some of you do allow them.  Me thinks, that if I can use them for six months problem free...that's not so bad.  Also, the fact that it is so easy to re-install Mint I think it's not such a bad idea.


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#7 Guest_hollowface_*

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 08:00 PM


Ubuntu (and thereby also Mint) is really an early-adopter.

 

Very early, Ubuntu 14.04 shipped with a BETA version of Grub2.



#8 bmike1

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Posted 23 February 2015 - 11:55 AM

I will always remember their decision to upgrade KDE4 in 2008. I upgraded and ended up with a system that was barely stable for 50min before something crashed. It took a lot of special releases and version-fixing to find a configuration that would run on my system. It took another 2 years before it really became usable (that's 4 releases of Ubuntu) and another year after that before Debian did the move to kde4 with wheeze in 2011.

In '98 they decided to update the DE and nothing worked upon reboot. I was a new Linux user then and I realized later it was loading a window maker (I think that is what it was called).


A/V Software? I don't need A/V software. I've run Linux since '98 w/o A/V software and have never had a virus. I never even had a firewall until '01 when I began to get routers with firewalls pre installed. With Linux if a vulnerability is detected a fix is quickly found and then upon your next update the vulnerability is patched.  If you must worry about viruses  on a Linux system only worry about them in the sense that you can infect a windows user. I recommend Linux Mint or, if you need a lighter weight operating system that fits on a cd, MX14 or AntiX.


#9 Al1000

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Posted 25 February 2015 - 01:59 AM

I wouldn't necessarily recommend stable for a home user when it comes to Debian.. Stable really means stable, it doesn't need reboots and can run forever when there's no security issues. If you want to reboot less than once per months and don't mind missing out on ntfs support...

I can access my ntfs partition no problem.

I've read some more about the differences between stable, testing and unstable, and am considering using unstable instead as I already have Kubuntu installed on the same computer which is my "main" operating system, and just installed Debian for fun.

Ubuntu (and thereby also Mint) is really an early-adopter.. You will find almost all versions packaged for this distro within a few days of their release.

This question arose on this forum as it was found that while ClamAV is the latest version in the Mint 17.1 repositories, its GUI ClamTK is several versions behind.

#10 cat1092

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Posted 25 February 2015 - 04:45 AM

I've installed Mint Debian in virtual machines & it ran great, no crashes at all. 

 

The reason why I don't install to HDD, there's no clear cut instructions as to how. I'm not giving a 128GiB to 256GiB SSD to any version of Mint. Most all Linux distros has a easy way to partition, while it may be there, have yet to find the settings. Install & forget is indeed a great idea. 

 

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#11 Al1000

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Posted 25 February 2015 - 07:19 AM

The reason why I don't install to HDD, there's no clear cut instructions as to how. I'm not giving a 128GiB to 256GiB SSD to any version of Mint.


Why would it need 128GiB?


#12 myrti

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Posted 25 February 2015 - 07:35 AM

 

I wouldn't necessarily recommend stable for a home user when it comes to Debian.. Stable really means stable, it doesn't need reboots and can run forever when there's no security issues. If you want to reboot less than once per months and don't mind missing out on ntfs support...

I can access my ntfs partition no problem.
 

Yes nowadays this is not an issue anymore luckily..  But just 10 years ago the situation was very different. Back thent here was only read support, no write support for ntfs. The development and release of ntfs-3g allowed all linux userse to read from and write to ntfs partitions. The first release was in 2006. In the same year the module was incorporated into Ubuntu and people had full access to their ntfs partitions too. Debian stable waited until 2009 to include the module into their release.

Which is what I meant: Debian is stable stable stable, but it is a very slow adapter of new developments.

 

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#13 cat1092

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Posted 26 February 2015 - 03:05 AM

 

The reason why I don't install to HDD, there's no clear cut instructions as to how. I'm not giving a 128GiB to 256GiB SSD to any version of Mint.


Why would it need 128GiB?

 

 

By default, unless the user knows what they're doing with the partitioning, which doesn't work like Ubuntu based distros, Mint Debian will take the entire drive. I've seen this on older computers with 60 to 100GiB HDD's & in virtual machines. If it'll take 100GiB, it'll have no problems with taking the rest of a 120-128GiB SSD. 

 

Though this is really the fault of the developers for not providing enough documentation on how to format the drive & choose partition sizes. I know there's a way to manage this, but haven't wandered far enough from the Ubuntu based distros to gain the experience.  

 

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Performing full disc images weekly and keeping important data off of the 'C' drive as generated can be the best defence against Malware/Ransomware attacks, as well as a wide range of other issues. 


#14 Al1000

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Posted 26 February 2015 - 03:58 AM

Yes nowadays this is not an issue anymore luckily..

Thanks for the clarification.

But just 10 years ago the situation was very different. Back thent here was only read support, no write support for ntfs. The development and release of ntfs-3g allowed all linux userse to read from and write to ntfs partitions. The first release was in 2006. In the same year the module was incorporated into Ubuntu and people had full access to their ntfs partitions too. Debian stable waited until 2009 to include the module into their release.

That's interesting. I will probably change stable for unstable before long.

#15 TsVk!

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Posted 26 February 2015 - 04:04 AM

 

 

The reason why I don't install to HDD, there's no clear cut instructions as to how. I'm not giving a 128GiB to 256GiB SSD to any version of Mint.


Why would it need 128GiB?

 

 

By default, unless the user knows what they're doing with the partitioning, which doesn't work like Ubuntu based distros, Mint Debian will take the entire drive. I've seen this on older computers with 60 to 100GiB HDD's & in virtual machines. If it'll take 100GiB, it'll have no problems with taking the rest of a 120-128GiB SSD. 

 

Though this is really the fault of the developers for not providing enough documentation on how to format the drive & choose partition sizes. I know there's a way to manage this, but haven't wandered far enough from the Ubuntu based distros to gain the experience.  

 

Cat

 

Ubuntu is a Debian based distro, and so in it's own way (being Ubuntu based) so is Mint. The partition logic and requirements are identical. GParted is built into all of these distros to assist with easy GUI partitioning after installation, though I do recall that you have formatting options during Mint installation also if you choose the advanced install.

 

edit: or you always have the option of partitioning the drive first, and then assigning the partitions on installation


Edited by TsVk!, 26 February 2015 - 04:09 AM.





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