Missing an up-to-date Application Software Stream

Bug #148976 reported by blue|palm on 2007-10-04
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone

Bug Description

Ubuntu's philosophy on freezing packages at each distribution release is a controversial one, but does indeed have many benefits. Unfortunately, it leads to a problem: Ubuntu's application pool becomes outdated a few months after a distribution release. Whilst this does not affect all users, it does affect a large portion of users, and indirectly, their usage of Ubuntu.

Some problems that arise from this situation is where users are forced to compile software from hand or (sometimes worse) search the internet for precompiled software (which can introduce security risks). It reaches the point where no package manager (as in the case of windows) is better (in this situation) as a user is able to obtain official installers for new software as they are released.

Linux should be about choice: it is freedom we seek after all, and unfortunately Ubuntu is quite restrictive in this regard.

My proposed solution is that an official repository for Application Software (as opposed to System Software like X.Org, gnome etc) be created, i.e. non-critical, task-orientated software that is not crucial to the running of an Ubuntu system, but is crucial to the accomplishing of certain tasks. Examples of this type of software are: Blender 3D, The GIMP, Pidgin, various games and so forth. Characteristic of this software is usually the need for new features (and hence the need for newer versions) over the need for security (which is a driving need behind the choice to freeze the software repositories). 3D artists require the new versions of Blender as they are released, and it is usually this sort of user that is unhappy with the current system.

I understand that the maintenance of newer applications also entails the maintenance of newer libraries, and in this regard we can either maintain newer libraries as long as they don't conflict with the system software in the main distribution's repository OR simply restrict new software to that which compiles against the libraries frozen at a distribution release.

We can't be arrogant to the point where we expect every software project to conform to a 6-month development cycle. It simply doesn't work for all kinds of software. Perhaps differentiating between System Software and Application Software, as outlined here, and maintaining different repositories might be the next step.

Ubuntu's package manager is a great advantage over other Operating Systems, and I believe that only through catering for all kinds of users (which IS possible) can Ubuntu's potential be truly realized - such a move as proposed here does not affect those that prefer to use the frozen software (they do not have to enable the secondary Application Stream) whilst it does affect those that want to use it.

NB: Backports is NOT a viable solution to this problem. As an example, at the time of writing, Gutsy holds Blender version 2.44, whilst 2.45 IS available. Gutsy is due for release very soon, and the software freeze has occurred meaning 2.45+ will only find its way into Hardy...
if you don't view this as a problem, you obviously don't use Blender and do not require the new features, but please try and see how this might be a problem for other people who have different needs from you.

Yes, this is a bug... and it DOES restricts users from using Ubuntu, and affect the integrity of the systems where the user attempt to use workarounds to overcome this problem. We are all aware that this is an ongoing problem/debate, and the fact that it remains current shows that it is a problem and that a solution needs to be found.

blue|palm (rlorgat) on 2007-10-04
description: updated

What you are suggesting is a huge change in Ubuntu's development, I think it would be more appropriate to discuss this on the ubuntu-devel mailing list : http://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-devel

Wolfgang Glas (wglas) wrote :

Well, I think blue|palm has summed up a problem, which affects many intensive Linux users. Many user would benefit more from ubuntu, if it was released in one year release cycle and the current stable release would be actively supported with upstream upgrades of application software and driver updates.

A good example is ATI's binary driver, which is of a tremendously poor quality. Many users suffer from the deficiencies of this driver and even if ATI released a new driver version, most ubuntu users would now benfit from this new driver, because the software versions are frozen.



As I said before, this would a radical change in Ubuntu's development so please discuss about this in the ubuntu-devel mailing-list with Ubuntu's dev. I'm closing this.

Michael R. Head (burner) wrote :

So I just read through the report, and you mention that backports is not a solution. However, this is precisely the what backports is meant to solve!

Can you be more specific about why backports is inadequate?

Emmet Hikory (persia) wrote :

I'm fairly sure that backports is the solution you seek. See https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuBackports for a discussion of philosophy and process.

There is admittedly a slight interruption to backports generation every release: specifically between the UpstreamVersionFreeze for one release and the opening of the repository for the next release. It appears that blender released during this window in the gutsy development cycle. When the hardy release cycle begins, a current blender will likely be integrated fairly soon, and will then be eligible for backport to gutsy (and perhaps earlier releases, depending on the nature of the changes).

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