Downgrading packages after removing a repository

Michael Bienia michael at
Wed Aug 5 11:23:47 UTC 2009

On 2009-08-04 18:28:17 +0100, Andrew Sayers wrote:
> You make a good point about breakage when packages are downgraded.  But 
> it seems a little disingenuous for us to bend over backwards to make 
> unsupported upgrades possible (adding a "software sources" menu item, 
> putting PPAs in Launchpad, creating /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ and so on), 
> then for us to walk away when those upgrades make systems unusable.

There are certainly use-cases where this is usefull and people using it
know what they are doing. Disable such options won't make the problems
go away.

Removing the option to add software sources through a GUI will only lead
to instructions how to add them by adding/editing files in /etc/apt/. If
you remove that too, you will find instructions to download the deb and
"dpkg -i" it instead. In all cases users will follow them without
thinking because the instructions promised them a new version or
programm with more bling as they currently have.

Indepenent of how hard you make it to break an installation, there will
be someone who managed to break it nonetheless and expects from you to
unbreak it. And at the same time you will annoy experienced users who
know what they are doing.

> I also take your point that pain is an important way of communicating 
> danger to users.  But making a system unusable seems like pushing a man 
> off a cliff to warn him about the dangers of falling.

I see it more like using an old, rotten bridge with a big warning "Use
at your own risk." You might be lucky and can use it to get to the other
side and back again without problems, your might get to the other side
and the bridge breaks after you or if you're unlucky, you might not even
reach the other side. But your shouldn't complain afterwards if you hurt
yourself trying to reach the other side.

I'm pretty sure people will be carefull when they should use these (even
without a big warning):

In this regard people seem to apply some common sense and not use this
bridge if it looks unsafe to them but if it comes to software they
believe you everything you tell them.


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