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#1 2008-01-03 11:01:29

nagoola
Member
From: Germany / Ahrensburg
Registered: 2004-03-15
Posts: 52

Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

Hi,
I am a former Arch User and liked it a lot. The only thing that really turned me back to another Distro is the fact that Arch has no stable snapshots. A rolling release system has many advantages and I don't really want to list them all, but there are also many problems with such a system. As soon as you earn money with the system (read: use it as your main workstation) you need a stable system. Arch usually is very stable, but every once in a while an update will break your system. you cannot not upgrade cause you want to install a software that is only available in a version that needs other things to be upgraded. When you really need to get things done you do not want to mess around with the system - or at least risk it.
The solution is very simple. I tried it for quite some time. I did an rsync of core and extra every 3 to 6 months. The rest of the time i used that local "mirror" as my package source. That worked really well and would implement a stable branch without the need for much work or not having the rolling release system any more!
What is your opinion? It should not be so hard to do that and there have been many discussions about this anyway. Why not just do it?

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#2 2008-01-03 11:10:30

pressh
Developer/TU
From: Netherlands
Registered: 2005-08-14
Posts: 1,719

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

No because if you make a stable branch you also need to apply security fixes to it, taking valuable time from the devs. It simply cannot be officially supported the way you want it.

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#3 2008-01-03 11:15:16

nagoola
Member
From: Germany / Ahrensburg
Registered: 2004-03-15
Posts: 52

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

I think as soon as there is such a stable brach there will be people using it that are also willing to become a lets call it "security maintainer" for that branch. It would not take time away from the devs - it would simple need new ones. It is actually not as much work as it sounds. I did it for some time.

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#4 2008-01-03 11:25:00

pressh
Developer/TU
From: Netherlands
Registered: 2005-08-14
Posts: 1,719

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

nagoola wrote:

I think as soon as there is such a stable brach there will be people using it that are also willing to become a lets call it "security maintainer" for that branch. It would not take time away from the devs - it would simple need new ones. It is actually not as much work as it sounds. I did it for some time.

Nobody stops you from starting something like arch-stable, and doing exactly the above. It would just need a new project because it will confuse people too much as I see it.

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#5 2008-01-03 11:28:51

nagoola
Member
From: Germany / Ahrensburg
Registered: 2004-03-15
Posts: 52

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

I was actually already considering it. I do not really now how to go about that though. If somebody has concrete ideas how to accomplish that - i am all up for it!

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#6 2008-01-03 12:22:41

tomk
Forum Fellow
From: Ireland
Registered: 2004-07-21
Posts: 9,839

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

Your ideas sound concrete enough to get you started. In fact, you've already done it. So just do it again, others may or may not join you, but if it's what you want, that doesn't matter.

Arch-based activities like this, which will never be part of the official project, only happen when people stop talking, and start doing. As you have already noted, there have been numerous discussions of this topic, but most of them have followed a similar pattern i.e. one or more people saying to one or more other people that something like this should be done. Be the one who breaks the mould - you never know, you could end up a hero. big_smile

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#7 2008-01-03 15:18:29

Anonymo
Member
Registered: 2005-04-07
Posts: 421
Website

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

Maybe we could follow the Slackware packages; Slackware seems stable smile  I would definetely use it.  I used to use Rubix when that was out.

Last edited by Anonymo (2008-01-03 15:19:54)

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#8 2008-01-03 15:56:59

KimTjik
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2007-08-22
Posts: 715

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

Unfortunately I'm totally useless in this aspect, so at this moment there's not much I can do besides talking (I'm trying hard though to catch up). I wrote something down these lines on another forum with the notation that such a stable branch shouldn't be the concern of the original Arch project.

To use Slackware as guidance is a good idea (probably Debian stable does give a good starting point as well). Such an Arch-branch could really become a killer alternative. The KISS philosophy combined with smooth package manager fits the purpose very well. For my own desktop I would stay with Arch, but for some other solutions I would definitely keep a close eye on "Arch-stable-branch".

Last edited by KimTjik (2008-01-03 15:57:33)

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#9 2008-01-03 16:31:16

rasat
Forum Fellow
From: Finland, working in Romania
Registered: 2002-12-27
Posts: 2,176
Website

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

nagoola wrote:

...use it as your main workstation) you need a stable system.

Yes, you are right. The question you asked: "I do not really now how to go about that though", most likely nobody has deeply thought. Also will not do until there is a need. But I do believe there is a need when reading many Archers using an additional distro beside Arch.

The question, how to go about? Server space and finding maintainers is not the question. But to know what does "stable" mean for the Archers. Beside knowing how to maintain stable packages among core, extra, and community, do we want all packages or a particular area of usage e.g. selected multimedia and office packages. In my opinion, serious workstation users are not interested in large number of packages but what are useful and do the expected work.

Maybe by aiming for the workstation users, the stable repo can begin.

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#10 2008-01-03 20:44:33

KimTjik
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2007-08-22
Posts: 715

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

I would agree with rasat that "stable" in such a case should contain a selected number of packages. The problem sometimes, at least in my view, is that someone might ask for a stable repository, but in the same time doesn't want to be limited by it. As a result the obtained stability is compromised by "instable" system maintenance.

What I see as a qualified stable branch of Arch:
- nothing but open drivers
- exclude all proprietary software
- scale down the selection of packages to well documented and active ones

To some degree I would argue that following such criterias would produce a very stable Arch system even with the current repositories. I mean the choice is still individual: to install or not to install proprietary, brand new or bleeding etch stuff. Still it would be nice with a rock solid branch of Arch... if I could and had the knowledge I would definitely contribute.

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#11 2008-01-03 20:52:48

ibendiben
Member
Registered: 2007-10-10
Posts: 519
Website

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

Agree

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#12 2008-01-03 20:55:00

phrakture
Arch Overlord
From: behind you
Registered: 2003-10-29
Posts: 7,879
Website

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

tomk wrote:

Your ideas sound concrete enough to get you started. In fact, you've already done it. So just do it again, others may or may not join you, but if it's what you want, that doesn't matter.

Arch-based activities like this, which will never be part of the official project, only happen when people stop talking, and start doing. As you have already noted, there have been numerous discussions of this topic, but most of them have followed a similar pattern i.e. one or more people saying to one or more other people that something like this should be done. Be the one who breaks the mould - you never know, you could end up a hero. big_smile

I just have to quote this so people re-read it.

Thanks Tom

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#13 2008-01-03 21:15:19

toofishes
Developer
From: Chicago, IL
Registered: 2006-06-06
Posts: 602
Website

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

Stop talking and do! That is the answer I'll pretty much give to everyone on this kind of stuff.

19 months ago I was a Linux newbie (having it on my computer for the first time) just starting to figure out Arch.
11 months ago I became a Arch Linux developer.
Today I'm the lead developer on pacman. How does this happen? Because I stopped talking and started doing.

If you have a great idea, start it on your own and people will follow. How do you think Arch started?

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#14 2008-01-03 21:21:22

KimTjik
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2007-08-22
Posts: 715

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

As you might see by reading my posts above phrakture you'll notice that I agree with the consensus of this. However, don't forget that the general user base, even though donating money and spreading the word, don't have the knowledge and know-how-to as you do. So even if you and tomk mean well by saying "stop doing and start doing" it also an unintentional slap in the face (I'm not implying that I took it personal, I'm more thinking about the message such comments convey), because some of us can't do much more than discuss ideas and if we're lucky get someone knowledgeable interested.

Nevertheless to quote myself: "such a stable branch shouldn't be the concern of the original Arch project". Still there's space enough to discuss it here, don't you think?

Edit: toolfishes I'm sincerely happy for you. Compared to you I'm making snailing progress in the aspect of becoming a developer. Haven't I tried hard enough? Damn it, I don't think I could have done anything different, or how to manage to get room for self educating in coding while working professionally and voluntary internationally sometimes double the time of full time, taking care of my family, both the healthy and sick. Just because I don't have the time or brains, should I just shut up? Show us simple folks some respect, please.

Last edited by KimTjik (2008-01-03 21:31:59)

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#15 2008-01-03 22:00:34

phrakture
Arch Overlord
From: behind you
Registered: 2003-10-29
Posts: 7,879
Website

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

KimTjik wrote:

As you might see by reading my posts above phrakture you'll notice that I agree with the consensus of this. However, don't forget that the general user base, even though donating money and spreading the word, don't have the knowledge and know-how-to as you do. So even if you and tomk mean well by saying "stop doing and start doing" it also an unintentional slap in the face (I'm not implying that I took it personal, I'm more thinking about the message such comments convey), because some of us can't do much more than discuss ideas and if we're lucky get someone knowledgeable interested.

There are many things people can do that don't require coding or technical skill.

We're not trying to convince people that you have to code, but doing _something_ is better than asking other people to do things.

So you claim you don't have the know-how to set this up? Fine. How about looking for people who do? How about getting a server together, or finding a free server to hold the repository? How about writing a document that specifies what this repository MEANS, or what defines a stable package?

Here's the thing I think a lot of people miss. When you work in software, a small amount of a given project is actually code. Most of it is documentation and setting up requirements and specifications.

How about these next steps: take your idea, fully flesh it out and write a wiki page on it. Ask for suggestions here in the forums, and finalize the details. Then decide what "assets" you'll need. A server, possible code, some maintainers. Figure out HOW you want to go about getting those assets, and then do it. Figure out what tools you can reuse (our repo scripts, while assy, are publicly available on projects.archlinux.org) and what you need to create. Setup some access for your maintainers, and let them run with it.

If you'd like, when the time comes, I can even give you instructions on how to set up a chroot-build machine in the same way I have mine setup (that allows users to build packages in a chroot very easily and efficiently).

That's it. Define your criteria, define what you need, and work from that.

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#16 2008-01-03 22:41:58

ibendiben
Member
Registered: 2007-10-10
Posts: 519
Website

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

Since I installed linux the first time (some months ago) I've learned a lot...
I started learning some coding (nothing really, just bash/regular expressions) last week(s) and next couple of days I will submit a project I've been working on... (pacmenu like dialogged version of pacman/yaourt/tupac called 'parodia').  ----(hehe)
It definitely takes a lot of time though and you can't expect everyone to have/make that. Comment/ideas like with this topic can be taken as some sort of easy critic... but I think of it as an valuable contribution too...
think and tell what you think could be done better also starts things up.
About the thing starting such project wouldn't necessarily require code-knowledge I say ... well ... uherr ... nothing neutral

And having said this... I'd like to voluntair helping out, I have some time to spend on it, just need someone to tell me exactly what to do hmm (--->don't expect too much;)

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#17 2008-01-03 23:46:59

my64
Member
From: France
Registered: 2007-12-30
Posts: 88

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

Hi,
I am also new to Archlinux, and understand very well Nagoola when he talks about stability. For instance, currently I am stucked with a video driver problem on virtual box, that probably could have been solved by using a "stable" version of the xorg package. But I can't find a good one. I can not test further archlinux and start to install it on my workstation to replace Ubuntu.

But thinking to what has been said earlier, there  may be an alternative to  the stable repository:
why not  instead of making one stable image,  keep  every major earlier version of packages. and let the user choose which version of a package he should install.  It would be a way for him to build his own "stable" release, adapted to his own needs.

This would have the advantage that a user not happy with a new version because it brings some regression, could  use an old one and keep his  workstation running until  a newer more adequate version of the package appears.
The drawback is that it requires more disk space to keep old package versions.

pacman would probably need to be enhanced, to allow to retrieve a package  together with its version number.

As I am also developper (C,C++,perl) I can help to enhance the tools. 
Regarding the disk space however, I can't do much.

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#18 2008-01-03 23:56:17

KimTjik
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2007-08-22
Posts: 715

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

I'll have to finish up some other small Linux projects first:

- I'm engaged in writing a pretty comprehensive, but newbie oriented, documentation on a hardware forum (we hope to be able to give some overclockers enough confidence to try something else but burne hardware!)

- I'm helping my fathers small company to make use of Linux and BSD (I'm having some issues at the moment I need to solve)

Besides that, and donating money, I'm ready to do what I can. Your second post phrakture defines what it's all about. A project might fail, but not even a day has passed, so let's see what we can do. I'll keep a close eye on this thread, and will try to add some ideas.

Nice to see that Misfit138 is in as well and some others might want to join. For a start I would like to know what criterias initial poster nagoola set up for validating a package stable.

Cheers everyone! Don't think I'm mad or angry. I'm just terribly tired...

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#19 2008-01-04 06:05:32

AndyRTR
Developer
From: Magdeburg/Germany
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 1,640

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

I'm always interested when it comes to improve Arch. I had similar plans in the past. But I cannot do all the work beside maintaining my 136 official packages and some really eat a lot of time (OOo).

It's all not that much as it sounds. But the initial documentation and layout how a stable Arch branch will have to be done will need time and some packaging and organization knowledge. If you really want to start something like that, go on and

- find some community members that will do most(!) of the work not only for a few days
- developers can help finding some decisions but they won't do the majority of the tasks
- create an initial communication place (wiki page, irc channel and/or mailing list)
- work out how the stable branch should be "snapshotted"
- work out how you want to maintain it once it will be released
- always believe in your success - but make sure at any time you can merge it with our current ArchLinux development way / don't fork it  !

Good luck.

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#20 2008-01-04 07:04:54

hussam
Member
Registered: 2006-03-26
Posts: 525
Website

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

The main part in establishing a stable distribution is taking time to locate bugs and security issues in packages and then finding patches or backporting any available fixes from newer versions of applications. After that, it is important to verify that the patches actually solve issues without causing regressions. I am confident I can help with that so if this is a serious project, count me in.

Last edited by hussam (2008-01-04 07:08:46)

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#21 2008-01-04 10:10:26

daf666
Member
Registered: 2007-04-08
Posts: 470
Website

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

Sorry about the noob question.. but arrent the ISO's that are released, for example  2007.08-2?
I mean, If the ISO was released with much more packages from extra , and make for a complete system, then a user who wants a stable system can just not do online updates and just jump from ISO to ISO when they are release like fedora or something?

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#22 2008-01-04 10:41:01

Nihathrael
Member
From: Freising, Germany
Registered: 2007-10-21
Posts: 82
Website

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

nagoola wrote:

Hi,
The solution is very simple. I tried it for quite some time. I did an rsync of core and extra every 3 to 6 months. The rest of the time i used that local "mirror" as my package source. That worked really well and would implement a stable branch without the need for much work or not having the rolling release system any more!
What is your opinion? It should not be so hard to do that and there have been many discussions about this anyway. Why not just do it?

That of course helps solving the problem for that time, but didn't your system break some times after doing those rsyncs once in a while?
I wonder if you want the stable branch to be stable enough to always update from one stable release to the next without breaking something, or do you just want to the stabe release to be stable with it's self, meaning it wont break if using that release. Because some time or another you wont get around breaking the system. (evdev drivers for example, needed a config change to work from 1.5 -> 2.0)

Another question is, do you want to keep a stable repo after one or more new stable snapshots have been released, so people would not be forced to upgrade? (Of course you would have to drop maintainence for the old releases). This could easily be done by putting each stable snapshot in a new folder on the server(If enough disk space is provided).

But great idea and i think if would not be all to difficult to set up.


Unknown Horizons - Open source real-time strategy game with the comfy Anno 1602 feeling!

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#23 2008-01-04 10:51:02

pressh
Developer/TU
From: Netherlands
Registered: 2005-08-14
Posts: 1,719

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

daf666 wrote:

Sorry about the noob question.. but arrent the ISO's that are released, for example  2007.08-2?
I mean, If the ISO was released with much more packages from extra , and make for a complete system, then a user who wants a stable system can just not do online updates and just jump from ISO to ISO when they are release like fedora or something?

If you are completely isolated from the outside world, or don't care about security, then yes.
Distros like fedora apply security fixes to their stable branch, as well as bugfixes (which they need to backport quite often).

Last edited by pressh (2008-01-04 10:51:48)

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#24 2008-01-04 11:39:06

my64
Member
From: France
Registered: 2007-12-30
Posts: 88

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

daf666 wrote:

Sorry about the noob question.. but arrent the ISO's that are released, for example  2007.08-2?
I mean, If the ISO was released with much more packages from extra , and make for a complete system, then a user who wants a stable system can just not do online updates and just jump from ISO to ISO when they are release like fedora or something?

Problems is that many package are missing from the iso image.  Xorg for instance is not in.

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#25 2008-01-04 13:36:02

Allan
Developer
From: Brisbane, AU
Registered: 2007-06-09
Posts: 10,432
Website

Re: Arch needs Stable-Snapshots!

What I don't like about stable branches is that when you go to make the next release, you basically throw everything away and start again.  With the rolling release, you only throw little bits away at a time...

So, how about a less drastic solution that is more in line with the "Arch Way".  How about a "stable Arch" mirror that pushes updates out around a month after they happen in "rolling Arch".  That way, if there are any major problems/config changes etc, everyone will know about these well in advance and be prepare to either deal with them or add the packages to the IgnorePkg list...  Of course if there are major problems or changes, a release would be delayed by more than a month (perhaps waiting for new kernels to become more patched...) or if there was a big security issue with minimal impact then that package could be pushed earlier.  So all the developers of this stable branch would mainly need to do would be decide when the packages are pushed to the release.  I guess they would also need to push security updates for software that has been updated to a new major version in "rolling Arch" (again thinking minor version kernel releases while waiting on the new major version release to stabilize).

That idea is not a stable branch in the traditional sense but could provide the best of both worlds.  I also think it would require less work that a completely stable branch and so might actually go beyond talk.  As for me, I will continue rolling along...

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