Why aren’t our users familiar with backports.org ?

As part of the openoffice.org bug triage I asked users to test their bugs with recent versions of oo.org, and referred the users of the stable branch to backports.org.

I got a lot of responses from users saying they didn’t know about the backports repository. For most of them that’s a time saver in the process of getting newer software. Some were glad to upgrade and to confirm their bugs with the recent version.

I’m wondering how should we publish this (unofficial) service? Having results from backports.org appear in packages.d.o was a good start. Maybe adding a link from the PTS as a reminder to the maintainer? (but this don’t help the users).

Any ideas ?

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Filed under Debian GNU/Linux

14 responses to “Why aren’t our users familiar with backports.org ?

  1. toupeira

    I think an overview page on debian.org (similar to http://www.debian.org/releases) would be great, and you could also include other semi-official package repositories like experimental, volatile, and snapshot.debian.org. I stumbled on these only by coincidence after years of using Debian, and I think it would be great to expose them more to new users (with the necessary warnings, of course).

  2. Is it the responsibility of the maintainer to maintain up-to-date backports in backports.org?

    Will you accept bug reports vs. obsolete packages in backports.org?

  3. Well, backports.org is not that advertised. An “official” page, or some link from official pages, like toupeira suggested, would be a great thing.
    A google search with “backports inurl:debian.org”, reports, as first result, the wiki page . But, well, new users aren’t aware of the wiki…

  4. I think the main reason many users do not know backports because of most of desktop
    users have testing distribution. I think this “tradition” had come from the peroid of
    Woody->Sarge when it was really not recommended to use a stable version that was
    outdated by 3(!) years, so it had become a standard for Debian desktop users to
    install testing distribution.

    Thus, backports become relevant for users of stable distribution… And there are relatively few of them in debian *desktop* community.

  5. Filipus Klutiero

    Well, they aren’t familiar with backports.org simply because it it’s unofficial. No unofficial repository is known by most users.
    IMO it would be better to work on making backports.org content official rather than advertising backports.org more.

  6. Perhes adding backports in d-i installation could help more.
    since most of people (that i know ) get familer first off all with the default servers in apt and only by googling and debian.org.

  7. Maybe provide some helper tool inside the desktop (synaptic?) To advertise those backports and set the Pins for the user if he/she wants to use backports (right now one need to know about backports, know how to pin them, etc).

  8. ciol

    Because the only target of Debian are system administrators who don’t want that anything move.
    Debian does not care about the “normal” users. It’s either stable and obsolete, or up to date and unstable.
    The whole Debian is a joke. We don’t care about your patches. Integration is the matter of, eg, KDE. Not Debian.
    Repeat this 100x.
    It’s not backports.org that should be a “project we do because we can”. It’s -stable.

  9. From what I understand the backports.org people are trying to get it officially recognized and added, similar to how volatile got it.

    About responsibility: It’s the backporter’s responsibility to track for updates, in some cases (and preferably) it’s the same person that does the upload to unstable, too. About bug reports, if the maintainers don’t match the backport maintainer is highly encouraged to track the bugreports too, not only for newer versions so to see if backport specific bugs appear. At least the “official” maintainer of the package should be made aware (and that happens in most cases).

    About adding a link to the PTS, I wouldn’t consider that as a reminder to the maintainer. I don’t use the PTS at all, or very rarely. To me the PTS looks more like something to hand on to upstream developers, to be able to subscribe to stuff and be done with it. Backports though are integrated in the QA pages which are more useful for a package maintainer, if you ask me. At least for ones with more than just a small amount of packages.

  10. FYI, I’m a system administrator and I *do* care about backports, there are some packages like rsync 3.0 which make a lot of difference. I also use volatile for updated spamassassin and clamav packages. and yes, all this on production servers. my own server runs sid ;)

  11. ferenc

    I have been using Debian now for close to ten years and have always run stable. It is far more important to me that my machine be trouble free then to have the latest features. If I needed a function that was critical but not available in stable I would write it myself. I also used backports carefully and found it very valuable. I think it would be well worth while to generate a well maintained version of backports as an official edition to stable. In fact I would like to see Debian incorporate a means of constantly upgrading stable rather then having releases or updates. I know this is a difficult concept to execute but it would certainly be a very well received effort. Thank you for a very great product of your labors and keep up the good work.

  12. ciol

    Don’t be proud administrator, you and your lobbying are the cancer that killed Debian.

  13. JW

    This is very simple: new users don’t know about it because it’s not linked to from this page: http://www.debian.org/distrib/packages

    Anyone who is new to Debian and is looking for packages will go to http://www.debian.org and look for the “packages” link. They will probably assume that all useful info about packages will be found on that page (and it should be).

    And most of them will stop right there.


  14. Minha opinião é que esta faltando clareza para na documentação dos repositórios debian, sejam eles http ou ftp. acho bastante útil o backports pois muitas aplicações úteis só existem lá. Minha sugestão é para que antes de tomar qualquer ação é fazer detalhada documentação sobre os repositórios (do tipo who,what,when,why,where and how) funcionada cada repositório pois a documentação atual é difusa e conflitante.
    minhas saudações a todos que dedicam seu tempo ao software livre.
    do brasil para o mundo by debian.

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