Price of bleeding edge? (update)

April 24, 2011 – 6:07 pm by Adnan Hodzic

Since Debian is in GNOME3 transition period, after last dist-upgrade I lived on bare minimum of GNOME DE and its apps. basically all I had working right was Chromium and Terminal, instead of Rhythmbox I used mpg321, instead of Gedit it was Vim and so on, which is all fine except the fact it had me living in 2000 again.

It was all due to python-gtk2 version that was missing in Sid repositories. Furthermore, as I was unable to restart X and had my notebook on suspend after every login I had to retype my wifi passphrase due to a bug in gnome-keyring. I believe I did my part, reported the bugs and waited maintainers responsible for those packages to do something. But this “situation” went on for 8 days.

I remember the times when you couldn’t fire up X for weeks, but after those days Unstable has gained reputation that it’s not like that anymore, but after having a situation like this one, it makes me wonder.

Please, don’t take this the wrong way, I mean no harm but the ultimate question that is brought up here is … is this the price of bleeding edge?


As many of you came down on me with anger, let me say couple of things. First of all, when I first wrote this post I was kind of using it for venting. Second of all original title was “Price of freedom” as it sounds too confrontational and for some misleading I had it changed to “Price of bleeding edge”. What happened above could’ve been avoided if I used safe-upgrade instead of dist-upgrade, as at the time I was just too tired and wasn’t paying enough attention to the list of all the packages that are going to be removed.

I use Sid for few years now, and am of a opinion if used with attention it is the the best bleeding edge/devel distro out there. I wasn’t ranting and am still of opinion that things like this need to be discussed among us, of course we can just stick to the line “debian is the best” and we’re not going anywhere. Maybe I did go over the line with this attempt of positive criticism, but I really don’t see nothing wrong with what I did here, as one of items from Debian Social Contract is “We Won’t Hide Problems” thus let’s talk about it.

Again, I apologize if I offended anyone, as point of this whole post wasn’t of such nature.

  • Aquiles

    No, it is not. You can go stable. Then the price you pay is using slightly to moderately outdated software.

  • Mark Sh

    Experimental is not for everyone.

  • that’s the problem, basically there’s no perfect ratio between those two.

  • Someone

    possibly, but how this relates to freedom?

  • Debian == freedom?

  • Aquiles

    Ok. So, since we cannot achieve the perfect ratio (because perfection is like infinity, you can approach it as much as you want but you never really get there), let’s stick with a middle solution. Call it testing. Almost stable, but not quite. Almost state of the art, but not quite. Now, is this “almostness” a fair price to pay for freedom? Only you can answer that question.

    For me, it is a fair price.

  • Debian == Debian stable, after all.

  • Gabriel Pettier+foolcontrol

    Debian unstable is now the stable rolling release distro everyone want?

    No, because no such thing exist, and debian unstable break, that’s part of its definition…

    Of course you can go use ubuntu Smile (not trolling, i do…)

  • To a certain extent, I was even thinking about that, to make dual boot with Ubuntu. Once you want to do development, you go to Sid, once you wanna other things you go to Ubuntu.

  • You don’t have to upgrade each and every package when you update you sid box: each time I upgrade for some time now, I’ve the same conversation with aptitude
    – upgrade my system
    – okay then, let’s remove gnome
    – no don’t do that
    – so I won’t upgrade some package
    – do it

    And gnome stay on my box.

  • I know, it was partly my fault as I was too tired and just hit “enter” without reading full list of what’s going to be removed.

  • there were some accidental GNOME3 uploads to unstable. And in experimental, everything is fine.

  • LF

    na sidu ja obi?no kažem aptitude safe-upgrade,
    koji je malo pažljiviji… i pri?eka do kraja tranzicije.

  • Marcus

    Well, I don’t think that makes sense really. Debian stable won’t have those problems. And the “outdated software” thing is like with any non-free os, the apps included there aren’t usually updated that much after release either.

    I think it’s the price of “bleeding edge”. Smile Of course, maybe distros that design their actual releases to be bleeding edge handle it better.

  • hehe agreed, I should’ve named it “Price of bleeding edge”

  • Zack

    I believe you should learn either to 1) use testing or 2) use the aptitude interactive resolver (or equivalent features in other package managers). I’m on unstable as well for my main production laptop. I’ve noticed the issue you mention several days ago, and simply refused to do upgrades which would have removed half my desktop environment. I’ve suffered from zero disruptions in my productivity and I’m still able to report bugs against the development version of Debian packages.

    Really, there is nothing wrong in using unstable, you should just learn a few tricks (especially before ranting on planet!).

  • charon66

    If you are concerned about something braking your system maybe you should prevent this treating your system as critical.
    You could have a redundant system e.g. sid installed on two partitions: you updated one and if something goes wrong you can use the other otherwise you update both. To fix things you can also chroot into the other system.
    Another solution may be to use a filesystem supporting snapshots.

  • gregoa

    what exactly do you mean by “partly”?

  • And even that’s not true. You can develop on Ubuntu with a Debian sbuild or whatever. Just ignore the weird looks the other DDs give you.

  • hmm…. It really is a big transition. I have seen this over the last several days.

    $ sudo aptitude install python-gtksourceview2 python-gtk2 python-glade2
    The following packages will be upgraded:
    python-glade2 python-gobject python-gtk2{b} python-gtksourceview2
    4 packages upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 45 not upgraded.
    Need to get 2,659 kB of archives. After unpacking 238 kB will be used.
    The following packages have unmet dependencies:
    python-gtk2: Breaks: python-gtkglext1 (= 1:2.30)

    Accept this solution? [Y/n/q/?] n
    The following actions will resolve these dependencies:

    Remove the following packages:
    1) alacarte
    2) aptoncd
    3) compizconfig-settings-manager
    4) debian-bts-applet
    5) deluge
    6) deluge-gtk
    7) deskbar-applet
    8) font-manager
    9) gdebi
    10) gedit
    11) gedit-plugins
    12) gimp
    13) glipper
    14) gnome
    15) gnome-about
    16) gnome-accessibility
    17) gnome-activity-journal
    18) gnome-applets
    19) gnome-codec-install
    20) gnome-control-center
    21) gnome-core
    22) gnome-desktop-environment
    23) gnome-games
    24) gnome-mag
    25) gnome-menus
    26) gnome-office
    27) gnome-orca
    28) gnome-panel
    29) gnome-session
    30) hamster-applet
    31) mint-common
    32) mintbackup
    33) python-aptdaemon-gtk
    34) python-bugbuddy
    35) python-evolution
    36) python-glade2
    37) python-gmenu
    38) python-gnome2
    39) python-gnomeapplet
    40) python-gnomedesktop
    41) python-gnomekeyring
    42) python-gtk2
    43) python-gtksourceview2
    44) python-gtkspell
    45) python-notify
    46) python-pyatspi
    47) python-vte
    48) python-webkit
    49) python-wnck
    50) rhythmbox
    51) rhythmbox-plugin-cdrecorder
    52) rhythmbox-plugins
    53) software-center
    54) software-properties-gtk
    55) system-config-printer
    56) totem-coherence
    57) totem-plugins
    58) update-manager-gnome
    59) update-notifier
    60) zim

    Leave the following dependencies unresolved:
    61) capplets-data recommends gnome-control-center (>= 1:2.30.1-3)
    62) gedit-common recommends gedit
    63) gedit recommends python-gnome2
    64) gimp-data recommends gimp
    65) gnome-applets recommends deskbar-applet
    66) gnome-applets recommends python-gnome2
    67) gnome-applets recommends python-gtk2
    68) gnome-games-data recommends gnome-games
    69) gnome-panel-data recommends gnome-panel
    70) gnome-panel recommends gnome-control-center
    71) gnome-panel recommends alacarte
    72) gnome-system-tools recommends gnome-control-center (>= 1:2.10.1-1)
    73) gnome-desktop-environment recommends gnome-accessibility
    74) gnome-desktop-environment recommends gnome-games (>= 1:2.30)
    75) gnome recommends update-notifier
    76) gnome recommends gdebi
    77) mousetweaks recommends gnome-control-center
    78) rhythmbox recommends rhythmbox-plugins
    79) software-center recommends update-notifier
    80) synaptic recommends software-properties-gtk
    81) totem-plugins recommends totem-coherence
    82) totem recommends totem-plugins
    83) update-manager-core recommends update-manager-gnome (= 0.200.5-1)
    84) zim recommends python-gtkspell

    Accept this solution? [Y/n/q/?] n

    Tried all the solutions, all of them involved removing gnome so it stays put, although neither gnome or gnome-desktop-environment seems to have any important data as such.

    $ dpkg -L gnome

    $ dpkg -L gnome-desktop-environment

    But still keeping it, hoping one of these days, the other things work themselves out so I can do a safe-upgrade of the packages (without touching gnome)

  • oops, forgot to share the most important info. the version number

    $ apt-show-versions -a python-gtk2
    python-gtk2 2.17.0-4+b1 install ok installed
    python-gtk2 2.17.0-4 stable
    python-gtk2 2.17.0-4+b1 testing
    python-gtk2 2.24.0-1 sid
    python-gtk2/sid upgradeable from 2.17.0-4+b1 to 2.24.0-1

  • It’s not too late.

  • I do use aptitude, it’s just that as I previously noted this was partly my fault as very tired and wasn’t clearly looking at the list of stuff that’s going to get removed. If I used safe-upgrade this problem would’ve been avoided.

    I use Unstable for few years now, and absolutely satisfied with it, I’m of a belief that if used properly it can be stable then more distros that go by same name.

    About ranting on planet, now couple of hours later I prolly wouldn’t even post this, it’s just unfortunate that I used my blog as venting system.

  • well if I was paying more attention this whole problem could’ve been avoided, as if I saw what’s going to get removed I wouldn’t do it. Or would just go safe-upgrade.

  • Smile

  • talking about snapshots, any idea what’s the situation like with btrfs in Debian?

  • yeh, seems like it’ll be safe-upgrade for some time.

  • This has nothing to do with freedom, non-free software have development versions too and also have to go through transitions.

  • Try Arch

  • I know and I agree, that’s why I just had this post updated with more elaborate answer on what happened here.

  • numerous websites have picked it up with current title, that’s why I had it updated to explain what I was really trying to say.

  • jrn

    Perhaps there is an implied feature request for aptitude there.

  • Pingback: GNOME 3.0 op Wheezy | DailyStuff()

  • just curious to know, what sort of implied feature request would be there for aptitude? I, for one would just be happy when my bash-completion works (supposed to be a bug about bash-completion and readline perhaps) .

  • Well maybe there could be some kind of “special” dialog in case you’re about to remove apps that will greatly harm your system.

    In case it’s regarding DE, xserver-xorg, kernel, udev, stuff like that.

  • Why does it matter that others picked it up with the old title? You can always say somewhere: “initial title was VOMIT, so I corrected it”.

  • There, I had it changed.

  • kool stuff; thanks

  • Arch strikes a good balance, IMO. For rebuilds, they move whole package sets at one go into the main tree, while partial builds remain in [testing]. This is more or less like Debian testing behaviour. However for other packages, stuff goes directly to the main tree without any intermediaries. This would be like sid -> testing transition becoming 0 days for non-essential packages.

  • Good point – I’m a dedicated Sid user who dips into Ubuntu on occasion, having originally upgraded( sometimes painfully- but iwth much useful learning) from Xandros->Karmic->Sid. .
    I thank apt-spy each time it warns me of a dangerous upgrade – I’ve been happily upgrading and dist-upgrading since sept ’10…. my little netbook is alwayss table, gets mostly faster and many packages get smaller . .
    I came on this post as I am currently stuck on udev and there is a large queue of pkgs wanting to upgrade . . .
    Hopefully this will be resolved soon- looking around found some references to kernel upgardes but as I’m on which is the latest available on Sid though I grabbed it ages ago off Maverick…
    I mostly use apt-get as it seems to give the most control andmakesyou awareof exactly what changes are taking place,which helps build one’s picture of the system.
    I haven’t managed to get to grips with aptitude but do use Synaptic when doing simple installs. .
    Noticing that there was a python issue involved prompts me to ask why is the python stuff so huge( when compared with a well-equipped perl)?
    Viva Gnu/ Linux . . .Viva FLOSS