Let's Discuss Interim Releases (and a Rolling Release)

Colin Watson cjwatson at ubuntu.com
Fri Mar 1 18:09:57 UTC 2013

On Fri, Mar 01, 2013 at 12:01:25PM -0500, Barry Warsaw wrote:
> On Mar 01, 2013, at 04:52 PM, Colin Watson wrote:
> >FWIW, I have come to believe that nobody should use 'apt-get upgrade' as
> >a general rule.  In particular, since it tries its best to install as
> >much as it can under the constraint that it never installs new packages
> >or removes installed ones, it will carry merrily on without installing
> >any new Recommends introduced by the upgrade set, and you will never
> >hear about them again unless some other package starts recommending the
> >same target packages.
> >
> >Just using 'apt-get dist-upgrade' all the time, or something with closer
> >semantics to that, is better.
> I generally agree, but just as a point of clarification: `apt-get upgrade`
> will tell you when there are things its holding back, so with confirmation,
> it's a nice little reminder to look a little more closely before switching
> over to `apt-get dist-upgrade`.

The problem is that it *won't* tell you about Recommends, because
unsatisfied Recommends don't cause things to be held back.  It'll just
let you do the upgrade and forget about the new Recommends.  (Well,
there might be a "Recommended packages:" section somewhere in the middle
of the screed of output; I haven't checked.  But it's at best not
usually very obvious.)

> [*] A recent example was the removal of libreoffice-presenter-mode (or
> whatever it was called).  I love that package so I wanted a little more
> clarification about why it was being removed before I dist-upgraded.  Turns
> out the feature was being merged into the core package, so all was well, but
> I'm glad I verified it first.

Yep.  I think the update-manager change I implemented recently to permit
removals only when there's a matching Conflicts/Replaces/Provides set is
broadly the right heuristic for this, but I'm quite sure there's room
for more fine-tuning to encapsulate what experienced people do in a
sensible set of defaults.

Colin Watson                                       [cjwatson at ubuntu.com]

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