What are backports? - Was (Re: sources.list ?)

Thomas Beckett thomas.beckett at gmail.com
Wed Sep 28 09:50:20 UTC 2005

On 9/28/05, Colin Murphy <lists at spudulike.me.uk> wrote:
> On Tuesday 27 September 2005 16:39, 'Forum Post, '@wailuku.xlogicgroup.com
> wrote:
> > Is it advisable to use the Backports repositories in Breezy, read
> > somewhere it is not?
> I've seen the term but I'm not quite sure what 'backports' are.  Any clues
> from the list?

Ubuntu has a policy that one a version, 5.04 for example is released,
the programs that are part of it are not updated at all (except for
securty bug fixes). This maintains the high stability that was present
when the release was made. Some people like to have a newer version of
a program (firefox for example) and so rebuild it from source to work
in the older version of ubuntu. This is backporting - recompiling
software to work with previous systems. It is a good way to get a
program if you especailly need the new feature that the update
provides, but many people tend to update throughthe backports just
because they can. This has the tradeoff that it *may* introduce
instability as the version of ubuntu you are using it with was
designed, tested and integrated with the old version of the program
and the newer backport version will not have had the same level of
testing. They are therefore not supported by the ubuntu team.
At the end of the day, If you *need* the newer version of a program as
it fixes something that was stopping you or provides a feature you
need then the backports are simply an easier way of getting that new
version than compiling it yourself from source code. If you just want
the latest version because it is new then by all means try it if you
want to but as they say - if you break your system, you get to keep
both bits.


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