On Mon, Apr 08, 2013 at 05:21:58PM -0700, Paul Wessel wrote:
> Package: gmt
> Version: 4.5.2-1
> Sorry if this is not going to the right person. I am the developer
> of gmt [gmt.soest.hawaii.edu]. All GMT development is focused on
> version 5 which we hope to release this summer. In the meantime, the
> GMT 4.5.x series is updated once in a while to correct reported bugs
> in a package that saw feature freeze years ago. Thus the latest 4.5.9
> is much more stable than 4.5.8 which is more stable than 4.5.7 etc,
> etc. The fact that Debian (stable) is distributing 4.5.2 from 2010 is
> causing your users much grief as bugs we fixed 2-3 years ago is still
> in your "stable" distribution. Those who use Debian (unstable) are
> better off (with 4.5.7) but even this is close to 2 years old now.
> Perhaps this is semantics but it is very strange that a product
> labelled stable has a much buggier release than one labelled unstable,
> and neither has the most bug-free version of gmt, which is gmt 4.5.9.
> And when we release 4.5.10 later this spring it will be IT that is the
> most stable.
> It is up to you to deal with this - at least now you know.

Hi Paul

thanks for your comments. The general policy of Debian about packages (not
specifically gmt but any generic package) is explained in the debian FAQ. Let
me cite it literally:

3.1.3 The stable distributions really contains outdated packages. Just look at
Kde, Gnome, Xorg or even the kernel. They are very old. Why is it so?

Well, you might be correct. The age of the packages at stable depends on when
the last release was made. Since there is typically over 1 year between
releases you might find that stable contains old versions of packages.
However, they have been tested in and out. One can confidently say that the
packages do not have any known severe bugs, security holes etc., in them. The
packages in stable integrate seamlessly with other stable packages. These
characteristics are very important for production servers which have to work
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

On the other hand, packages in testing or unstable can have hidden bugs,
security holes etc., Moreover, some packages in testing and unstable might not
be working as intended. Usually people working on a single desktop prefer
having the latest and most modern set of packages. Unstable is the solution
for this group of people.

As you can see, stability and novelty are two opposing ends of the spectrum.
If stability is required: install stable distribution. If you want to work
with the latest packages, then install unstable.

Basically some users could be interested in using a rolling version (i.e.
sidi/unstable) instead of stable for the reason you summarized. This is also 
partially true
for testing where (but for freezing periods) packages evolves more frequently
and are better tested. Starting from wheezy we will also have specific
backports for stable of new packages as a standard approach. So I'm quite
confident that next 5.x series will enter sid soon after your release and
be available for those users in a way or another.

Francesco P. Lovergine

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