Evolution & Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

Patrick Goetz pgoetz at mail.utexas.edu
Tue Mar 9 18:28:16 UTC 2010

> Subject:  Re: Evolution & Ubuntu 10.04 LTS
> From:    Sebastien Bacher <seb128 at ubuntu.com>
> Date:    Mon, 08 Mar 2010 23:02:32 +0100
> To:      ubuntu-devel-discuss at lists.ubuntu.com

> Ubuntu has been bitten by upgrading to new versions which were rewritten
> in the past and we have learnt, the decision has been made to stay on a
> version which is not perfect but that we know about rather running to
> use a rewrite in the risk of being stucked with something not ready
> quality and feature wise for a lts.

As someone who is now running Lucid Alpha 3 on some production servers 
because I absolutely need some features of programs that have been 
updated in the last 1.5 years and Karmic is a largely an unusable 
disaster, I can see both sides of this argument.

Why not use something like ubuntu-backports more aggressively to make 
everyone happy?

PPA's are great, but we've already gotten burned once by using the PPA 
for a newer version of OpenOffice and having it suddenly disappear a few 
months later, throwing the automatic updates on 300 client machines into 

Given the speed with which open source software evolves, and given the 
need/desire of users to have access to the latest and greatest, it would 
be very useful to give users access to the newest versions of such 
things as Firefox, Thunderbird, Dia, gimp, OpenOffice, and so on. 
Generally these user space programs just work without causing system 
level regressions.  And it's kind of embarrassing to recommend linux to 
a user and have them tell me they like running Windows because "it's a 
lot easier to keep Firefox/Thunderbird/etc. up to date" rather than 
waiting a year before having access to nifty new features they get 
instantaneously on their windows box the day after the package is released.

Of course there's always the chance of "being bitten" as described 
above.  To this end, I've been thinking about this for a while and would 
  like to propose the following solution.  Unfortunately implementing 
this would require hacking or modifying the current .deb architecture. 
The basic idea is to make new packages available through 
ubuntu-backports (or ubuntu-unstable or ubuntu-experimental or something 
like this) but with a simple mechanism for backing out of the upgrade if 
it doesn't work out so well.  For example, suppose Ubuntu X.Y ships with 
gumptaculer version 1.7.3 and a few months later gumptaculer version 2.0 
is released with much fanfare, front page articles in Infoworld, Linux 
Journal, lwn.net, and breathless reviews across the blogosphere.  Users 
start clamoring for the features of gumptacular 2.0, not knowing how 
they ever lived without them.  So,

    apt-get install gumptacular/ubuntu-experimental

installs v. 2.0.  Unfortunately it turns out that whenever you run 
gumptacular 2.0 on a machine with an nVidia graphics card, the GPU fan 
spins out of control and melts the system board.  Problem.  The 
suggested new feature is a way to simply back out of the experimental 
update whenever you get bitten:

    apt-revert gumptacular

would un-install v. 2.0 and re-install v. 1.7.3 -- problem solved and 
users will just have to wait until version 2.0.1 is released (shortly). 
  Understood that there could be lots of complications with 
dependencies, but that's why it's called ubuntu-experimental  -- the 
onus is on the administrator to apply such changes atomically (i.e. one 
at a time) so that they can be backed out of without having to unwind a 
spaghetti mess of now inter-related dependencies created by updating 
several experimental packages at once.  If only one package was updated, 
then all the dependencies can be reverted, too without compromising the 

More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list