Title photo
frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Fri, 25 Mar 2011

How about a Ubuntu LTS Backports repository?

In the comments to my article on Debian’s Mozilla team offering newer Iceweasel builds, I eventually wound around to an idea that I believe would provide an enormous benefit to Ubuntu users:

There should be an official Ubuntu LTS Backports repository.

I see a lot of value in the Ubuntu long-term-support releases, but they’re pretty much treated by the project as regular six-month releases with a longer support life.

Just as in Debian, after the release only security and major bug fixes are allowed as updates. The message from Ubuntu is that if you want any newer applications, you should follow the six-month release cycle and get off the LTS.

But Debian does this differently. Debian supports a Backports repository with the following stated policy:

You are running Debian stable, because you prefer the Debian stable tree. It runs great, there is just one problem: the software is a little bit outdated compared to other distributions. This is where backports come in.

Backports are recompiled packages from testing (mostly) and unstable (in a few cases only, e.g. security updates) in a stable environment so that they will run without new libraries (whenever it is possible) on a Debian stable distribution. It is recommended to select single backports which fit your needs, and not to use all available backports.

Now I know there are PPAs in Ubuntu that allow users to install newer versions of packages, but the quality of these PPA packages is not terribly consistent, or so I’ve been led to believe.

Having an official Ubuntu LTS Backports repository would go a long way toward allowing those users who wish to stick with the LTS the option of adding select newer applications to their system while maintaining the same stable (or at least “same”) core.

Ubuntu users, what do you think?

Comments from the FlatPress version of this post

Jake Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 02:10:49

It’s an idea whose time has come. Love the long term support on the desktop OS, hate the increasingly stale web browser that I have to live with for 3 years. A way to maintain the stable underpinnings whilst upgrading things like web browsers would go a long way to removing the primary pain point of running an LTS release on the desktop

R Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 10:34:17

There already is backport update repository for LTS release (https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuBackports), isn’t it what you want ?

Rick Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 20:10:45

@Jake: what stale web browser? I’m on Kubuntu 10.04 LTS and firefox is regularly updated, at least the 3.x versions (no 4.0 for the moment).

@R: I believe that’s the PPAs Steven refers to as of-duboius-quality, it’s an oficial repository but unsupported from a security standpoint.

Though I’m using the Kubuntu Backports without problems, it’d be nice to have an oficial repository with updated desktop packages, e.g: firefox, open/libre office, etc.

Chakra offers something like that, waiting for a stable release :)

Steven Rosenberg Sunday, March 27, 2011 - 18:27:53

Look at the hardy-backports repository:

http://packages.ubuntu.com/hardy-backports/

There’s a lot there, but no Firefox, no OpenOffice/LibreOffice.

I’m not quite sure who/what this repository is for, but it’s not for the desktop user who wants newer versions of key packages.

Maybe getting these applications into this repo is what needs to be done.

CMD Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 19:26:56

hardy-backports? You’re still using Hardy? Crikey. Anyway I’ve upgraded my servers and desktops from 8.0.4 to 10.0.4 with minimal problems and I am quite happy sticking with 10.0.4 until support runs out. It’s trivial to get Firefox 4 using: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable

“Ubuntu 8.04’s support will end in April 2011 for desktops and in April 2013 for servers.”

steven Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 19:37:18

I’m terrible with these release names. I did upgrade my Ubuntu machine to 10.04 (aka Lucid), so I’m not on 8.04 at all.

Just for the record, here is the lucid-backports repository:

http://packages.ubuntu.com/lucid-backports/

and a list of all the packages in it: http://packages.ubuntu.com/lucid-backports/allpackages

Again, not much there for the desktop user.

mandar Friday, June 24, 2011 - 06:07:39

Ubuntu 8.04 need to be supported as the user will be using softwares that based on specific compiler or other system software which do get change after the new releases. It becomes extremely difficult and time consuming to port the older softwares on new Ubuntu versions. Its not just desktop but also the software dependency, which ubuntu tean should support