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    Woody retrospective and Sarge introspective
    Submitted by robster on Saturday, July 27, 2002 – 09:39
    Sarge“The battle’s done, and we kinda won,
    So we sound our victory cheer:
    Where do we go from here?”

    Anthony “aj” Towns has posted this message to the debian-project mailing list (non-technical discussions) about where we’ve been (Woody’s testing) and where we’re going (Sarge’s testing). The innards of the Woody release cycle are picked apart and scavenged from; the juicy succulent bits are kept, the gristle is left as a reminder. He further goes on to discuss what he would like to see from Sarge’s testing including regular CD builds using jigdo, debian-installer and fun with multiple architectures. Aj suggests that: The way I would like to see sarge run is basically to get it to “roughly” releasable status ASAP then keep it there.

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    Subject: A Silly Question
    Author: rustskull
    Date: Monday, 2002/08/12 – 19:30
    I am curious. With the way the debian organization has built and improved itself so far, it seems to me that it would at some point be able to develop some sort of quarterly/semi-annual release structure for the OS itself (ie; install debian once, update forever). I won’t elaborate any of my ideas, as people more intimate with the system would better know how to transition to and what structure would be most efficient…

    The point of my comment is that I hear many management structures and modifications to current systems being proposed or suggested, but this still puts anything releaseable in a fully tested form at least a year out, if not more.

    This seems like it would break the assaults on the pools that ensue every time a release is hinted at, with it only being worse the longer a “stable” distribution is taking to be released. It must have been *very* uncomfortable at times dealing with the last release… At least with a quartely (or semi-annual) update, people would know that the longest that a good package delivered just after the last release would have to wait to get into the next release would be 3-6 months, instead of a year or more.

    CMIIW, but the only things in the current release updates are bug fixes and patches, right? Everything else just sits in testing until the next release.

    I run potato (buring my woody disks today, don’t ask ;-), but I’ve heard people debate over just which is more stable, testing or sid…which brings up a set of interesting arguments, in and of itself.

    Anyhow, I’m sure that this has been suggested before, but I’m curious what the arguments would be as opposed to the current system. It sounds like this is a hot topic for discussion at times. I’ve already read the history of the pools…


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    Subject: I hope that frozen != testing from here on out
    Author: sab39
    Date: Monday, 2002/07/29 – 17:22
    It seems to me that there’s no reason for the current situation that frozen == testing whenever frozen exists. The same tools that currently push packages from unstable to testing could easily be used to push high-urgency fixes to a separate frozen distribution without freezing the whole of testing.

    I’d imagine that the release process ought to look like:

    * Work in unstable, automatic scripts keep testing almost-releasable at all times
    * Declare freeze, fork the current state of testing and call it frozen. Testing keeps going as normal.
    * Work towards making frozen completely-releasable through high-urgency uploads etc, which are propagated into frozen through similar processes to those used while woody was frozen. But during this time testing continues to get new uploads through the same process as it always did.
    * Eventually, declare a release and call frozen the new stable.

    If this were done, I’d change my sources.list from unstable to testing right now. The only thing holding me back is that I’m not willing to live with zero progress through a several-month freeze process when sarge is preparing for release. Let’s maintain testing as the “preferred branch” for people who want an up-to-date distribution, rather than just as a tool for making releases. There are a LOT of people who want something like that, even compared to the number of people who want stable releases.

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    Subject: I totally agree too
    Author: andresg
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/07/30 – 14:18
    The process stated above with unstable, testing, frozen and stable, is what the developers must do, IMHO.
    And for jes5199, who says that sarge is not going to take longer than woody to become stable? With the new scheme, at least the people who uses testing will not have to wait for updates when testing this in the process of stabilization, and this can speed up the whole process.


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    Subject: I completely agree
    Author: Elivs
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/07/30 – 07:06
    my *dream* for debian is:

    Not a full distribution, but poeople pinned on unstable might use it for nightly/weekly builds, kinda like what some “unofficial apt sources” do.
    eg a person might do
    apt-get upgrade => pinned to unstable
    apt-get -t experimental install gnome2.cvs1 mozilla-1.1.beta2
    This would encourage open source software developers to work on debian. It would allow the .deb scripts to be written as the software is written, rather than around the time of release.

    A complete distribution of software, but newly considered stable. Currently this would include things like kde3.0 and xfree4.2. Mostly stable package contents, unstable packaging.

    Stuff that has undergone a few weeks in unstable. This distribtuion should be considered the equivalent of a “beta” of the next stable release. This should be near releasable at all times as AJ suggests.

    periodically testing should be forked into frozen/releases candidate, while a few more bugs are removed before declaring it stable.

    In the last few years debian has grown to be too big to follow traditional release cycles. Given that a release cycle has all of the following parts: coding (experimental), alpha (unstable), beta (testing), RC (frozen), and gold (stable) – we should aim to allow all parts of the process to happen simultatiously by different (or the same) people.

    For example: I have used debian for 2-3years. During that time I have run testing and stable, with only a few packages from unstable from time to time. I submit bugs that I find. This suits my needs, and I am probaly more useful to the project that attempting stuff furthur upstream. Other people run unstable all the time. This means that an upstream developer, and myself are essentially working in parallel in different parts of the realease process. We need to make sure that one part of the cycle, doesn’t slow up another.

    In summary

    As debian has grown in number of packages, maintainers, architectures etc. it is important to automate as much as possible, and parallelise it as much as possible. The big problem with the last release cycle was that when testing was “frozen”/index.html”no major changes” it held up stuff upstream. When it was frozen, it should have been split into two distributions, one a release candidate, the other could continue as a testing.

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    Subject: Parallel Development
    Author: deek
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/07/30 – 04:05
    Most debian developers/admins are Computer Science students. All we need to do is consider this as a Parallel Processing problem, and things should go smoothly.

    Process 1: New/Updated Packages -> Unstable
    Process 2: Unstable tested packages -> Testing
    Process 3: Frozen Testing ironed out -> Stable

    All three processes should run smoothly, separately and without interruption … provided the “Frozen Testing” state is maintained separately from the “Testing” state. Process 3 can just be an infinite loop: take snapshot of “Testing”, squash bugs, release as Stable, repeat and rinse.

    Yep, it’s exactly the same as what sab39 said, but it seems much easier when you consider it in this view.


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    Subject: i sometimes agree with you
    Author: jes5199
    Date: Monday, 2002/07/29 – 23:35
    i sometimes agree with you
    the other side of the coin though is that a freeze isn’t supposed to last a year like woody did.
    and every day that a freeze lasts is another person who puts pressure on the maintainers to actually make a release so we can get a sane testing again.
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    Subject: thanks!
    Author: che
    Date: Saturday, 2002/07/27 – 18:36
    Wow. If Anthony can realize his plans … wow. A fast realeasable Testing distribution with security updates. This something many of us dream about !


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    Subject: OT – ‘sarge’ icon
    Author: mcking
    Date: Saturday, 2002/07/27 – 17:23
    I know this is off-topic and pedantic, but since ‘sarge’ from Toy Story was in the Army, your ‘sarge’ logo on debianplanet is upside-down. The chevron points up in the Army, and down in the Air Force (to look like wings, I guess).
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    Subject: Thanks
    Author: alp
    Date: Saturday, 2002/07/27 – 19:20
    The image has been rotated 180.
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    Subject: Cheers
    Author: robster
    Date: Saturday, 2002/07/27 – 21:16
    Cheers and cheers alp. I dont think i would have noticed apart from the fact you mentioned it on IRC 🙂

    Rob ‘robster’ Bradford
    Founder: http://www.debianplanet.org/
    Developer: http://www.debian.org/
    Monkey with keyboard: http://www.robster.org.uk/

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    Subject: Woohoo
    Author: glenalec
    Date: Saturday, 2002/07/27 – 09:51
    And as I write this, I am apt-get updating from Sarge which has trickled across to the debian.jp mirror.

    Great work people – a long wait, but it looks like it will be worth it!

    Glenn Alexander – the man with no surname and a silly hat.

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    Subject: Sarge==woody
    Author: robster
    Date: Saturday, 2002/07/27 – 11:21
    Several hundred megabytes of packages have been flowing from sid to sarge over the last few days now the hurdles with the testing scripts hogging resources have been solved.


    Rob ‘robster’ Bradford
    Founder: http://www.debianplanet.org/
    Developer: http://www.debian.org/
    Monkey with keyboard: http://www.robster.org.uk/

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    Subject: Tell me about it!
    Author: glenalec
    Date: Saturday, 2002/07/27 – 18:05
    I’m connected through a 28.8k modem (which is all this line will support anyway).

    I managed to learn XHTML1.0 and convert half my homepages to W3C compliance while waiting!

    Luckily today and tomorow is weekend connection rates. It’s the X fonts that are the killers! But it’s only once in a while, so I won’t complain.

    Glenn Alexander – the man with no surname and a silly hat.

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    Subject: right there with ya
    Author: undefined
    Date: Sunday, 2002/07/28 – 03:28
    amen, brother. i’m right there with ya. 28.8 on a good day, usually just 26.4. tracking testing (now sarge), and the mirrors at http.us.debian.org were just updated around thu (or at least early fri morning is when my script noticed it).

    i have a script (see below as i have been asked for it before, and don’t have a website from which to distribute it from) which gets started from a cron job every morning at 2am. the last two mornings i’ve awoken at 5 and 6am to the script still grabbing debs. this was somewhat surprising as testing has been nearly dormant (except for a few security/bug-fix updates) for a few months now (but still expected since woody was released and a new testing would begin accepting updates from unstable/sid any day now). i’ve had to kill the cron job both mornings as i couldn’t tie up the phone all morning/day, but suspect that one more night should do it. (from the output of

    apt-get -qq –force-yes –print-uris –ignore-hold dist-upgrade | grep -v “^’file:/” | awk ‘{print $2 ” ” $3; total=total+$3} END {print total}’

    i still have 22 MB left to download, which at 2.75 kB/s, my average download speed at that time of the morning, should only take me another ~2 hours. in that command i disclude file:/ because those are packages that i’ve already mirrored/downloaded into my local mirror/repository, but not installed.)

    my “apt-get dist-upgrade” mirror script (okay, not the whole thing, but the essential part):
    apt-get -qq –force-yes –print-uris –ignore-hold dist-upgrade | awk ‘{print $1}’ | tr -d ‘ | grep “^(ftp|http)://” | while read FILE; do wget -mv $FILE; done

    then i do a “dpkg-scanpackages” on the repository and finally do an “apt-get update” to read-in/process the newly-created Packages file.

    as you can see, i find “apt-get” (and it’s output) invaluable and central to the above scripts, so hopefully the above commands can help somebody else. i know they would have helped me when i first started with debian.

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    Subject: apt-get downloads from cron
    Author: mgedmin
    Date: Sunday, 2002/07/28 – 12:10
    Just curious — what’s wrong with just using apt-get dist-upgrade –download-only and relying on /var/cache/apt/archives?

    Here’s a script I put in /usr/local/sbin/apt-checkupdates that is run from cron every night on all the servers I administer:

    # A script to download available Debian updates and list packages that
    # will be updated. Designed to be quiet enough to be run from cron.
    # Copyright (c) 2002 Marius Gedminas
    # Licensed under the GNU GPL.

    apt-get update -qq
    apt-get dist-upgrade -d -u -y -q | fgrep -v "Reading Package Lists...
    Building Dependency Tree...
    0 packages upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
    Download complete and in download only mode"
    exit 0

    I get an e-mail every time a server needs upgrading and all the packages are already in /var/cache/apt/archives so I don’t have to wait when I ssh to do the upgrade.

    Marius Gedminas

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    Subject: two spaces..
    Author: inan
    Date: Sunday, 2002/07/28 – 23:48
    FYI, the third to last line in the script actually has two spaces in it:
    … and 0[space][space]-not upgraded.
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    Subject: different solution to a different problem
    Author: undefined
    Date: Sunday, 2002/07/28 – 20:01
    nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t want a mirror of the archives and don’t mind storing everything in /var. i’m guessing you have broadband (where every server downloading the same package doesn’t matter) or you have an apt-proxy running. i didn’t have enough machines to justify an apt-proxy (just a laptop and a desktop, though the desktop rarely gets used anymore since i’ve got my laptop working smoothly and just don’t have time to fiddle with more than one machine), but i still occassionally wanted the same packages on both (like when the laptop was in the shop).

    i wanted a large long-term package mirror, and that’s what i gave pointers for. if all you want to do is “apt-get dist-upgrade –download-only”, then your script works great.

    i wanted to retain the packages for a long time, somewhere with more space than i originally allocated for /var (as i currently have 3 gigs in packages, and that’s only retaining the last two versions of every package i’ve installed; i need to write a script to delete, or at least list, packages that i no longer have installed but at one time did and that’s how they got mirrored), for purposes of reverting to a previous version (testing still sees bugs) or for reinstalling should my / or /usr partition become hosed. (this is of course on top of the obvious advantage that i can install the same packages to all/any of my computers, though only download the package once.)

    my requirements are just a little more than your’s, which is why i needed more than your script.

    ps is it intentional that with dp’s move to druple (sp) that replies to comments no longer have the subject of the original comment, but instead a blank subject?

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    Subject: APT-Move maybe?
    Author: hrwandil
    Date: Monday, 2002/07/29 – 13:07
    apt-get update
    apt-move get
    apt-move sync

    You can configure apt-move to download packages where you want. You can also have /var/cache/apt/archives on other partition (or symlinks it as I have).

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    Subject: A bit off your topic…
    Author: shimmer44
    Date: Wednesday, 2002/09/25 – 23:10
    Hello to all,
    Call me kooky,(if you must), but I’m looking to download the whole “shebang” of whatever I need- (1 or 2? CDs- worth) of Debian to do a 1st install. I’ve got a “56k” connection. I’ve never done an install before, and I’m currently under Windows98{tm}.
    I’m basically willing to wait the rather unreasonable amount of time it should take to download what I need. I can burn it to CD; got a plextor 8x + {roxio… } software.
    I have previously tried the Jigdo method to download, but whenever my connection would die, it seemed to start over from the beginning.
    I’m wondering if or not it is possible to downoad say the 1st Deb. CD in parts or not. I’d have to do it in parts, ’cause like someone else mentioned I can’t tie up my phone for days on end.
    Any help/ful info is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks– Shimmer44
    If ever I get that far, I’ll be looking to install it as a Dual- or Multi-boot OS. Any advice or links on that is/are appreciated as well.
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    Subject: time to look at apt-move again
    Author: undefined
    Date: Monday, 2002/07/29 – 17:51
    maybe i need to look into apt-move again. last time i checked it out, the package respository had just moved to the new structure (packages placed in a directory based on source package name, not distribution) and apt-move didn’t support the new structure (yet?).

    i have symlinks for enough of apt already, just to handle the large apt databases, and that’s only a kludge until i have a larger excuse/need to reformat/resize my partitions. 🙂

    thanks for the tip, i’ll look into apt-move again.

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    Subject: Very handy
    Author: Psiren
    Date: Sunday, 2002/07/28 – 15:39
    Nice little script. I’ve just installed it on my home server, and will do the same for my servers at work on Monday. Cheers! =)
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