Updating software between releases - where backports/SRU isn't enough

Tim Hull thully at umich.edu
Sat Jul 28 23:28:08 UTC 2007

I thought I'd bring up an issue that I see with Ubuntu - and most Linux
distributions as a whole.Anyway, the issue is that once a release is
declared "stable", there are no more updates beyond security updates
available - at least without resorting to ugly tarballs or random unofficial
package repositories.  This is all fine and dandy, unless you need a feature
or a bugfix deemed non-critical - especially if it's the kernel or some
other low-level component like Xorg.

These types of things are covered by neither Stable Release Updates nor
Backports, and as such users who need a new kernel for hardware support or
who need many other software updates are left going about it the old tarball
way or by trying to install software from the unstable repositories.  In my
own case, the situation is that the 2.6.20 kernel in Feisty can't suspend my
MacBook.  This is fixed in 2.6.22, but to install this I must either 1) get
the Gutsy kernel, in which case I can't install linux-headers (needs glibc
2.6) 2) compile my own kernel from source, or 3) run Gutsy.

I can see many other situations where this come up - simply Google the many
"running Ubuntu on xyz" articles and you'll find countless "recompile this",
"install this from unofficial repository X" etc etc.  This may be fine for
me and for most experienced users, but it remans an issue that, IMHO, must
be resolved if Bug #1 will ever be fixed.

Is anyone in Ubuntu is doing any work on this issue? This could possibly
include expanding backports, but could also entail making it easier to build
from fresh source for the new user (think BSD ports, but easier). If so, or
if there is interest in working on this, I'd love to help - it seems like an
area where much improvement could be made.

I hope this e-mail doesn't rub anyone the wrong way - I'm NOT asking for
anything to be done specifically for me.  I appreciate all the good work
Ubuntu and Debian are doing, and I hope it continues.


P.S. I may send this to debian-devel as well, as this issue is also present
(albeit to a greater degree with their length between stable releases) in
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