[Pkg-postgresql-public] Postgres major version support policy on Debian

Martin Pitt mpitt at debian.org
Thu Oct 2 16:12:47 UTC 2008

Hi Markus,

Markus Wanner [2008-10-02 12:49 +0200]:
> first of all: thanks for packaging Postgres for Debian. I'm willing to
> help with that.


> Unfortunately we are stuck with several Postgres 8.2 installations from
> etch backports, which are no longer maintained by the backports, because
> only 8.2 got dropped from testing.

Indeed it was quite clear to me right from the beginning that Lenny
would ship with 8.3 only. I think from the POV of not supporting
several PostgreSQL versions in stable Debian releases there is no
disagreement. Etch is an exception because we needed 7.4 to get an
upgrade path from Sarge, but further Debian versions will only ever
support the latest PostgreSQL release.

Nevertheless I acknowledge the problem with the existing backport, of
course. I didn't request the 8.2 one, and personally I don't think it
is a wise idea to run a production server purely on a backport version
without being able to upgrade to 8.3 (or spending the necessary work
to upgrade to newer 8.2 versions, of course), but the world is as it
is, and people will do that.

> I'm providing upgraded packages for Postgres 8.2 on my own website [1].
> There are certainly other people who have run into the same issue, see
> for example [2] who dislikes using Postgres backports for exactly that
> reason.

Disliking backports for that reason is perfectly ok, IMHO. After all,
backports cannot make any support promises, thus not using them is
actually a *good* thing on critical infrastructure. :-)

> On the backports-users mailing list I've requested that Postgres 8.2
> gets re-added to etch-backports, with upgraded packages. So that
> existing installations can get bug- and security fixes for that Postgres
> versions. One argument for rejection [3] has been, that Postgres 8.2 is
> not in testing anymore and can thus not be backported. I'm arguing that
> Postgres 8.2 is a backport per se. Not from testing, but a backport of
> newer software to etch.

I'm personally ok with that argument, but I'm not the backports.org
maintainer. If they have a general policy that they don't *ever*
upload something manual to backports.org, I suppose changing that
policy just for PostgreSQL is hard to do.

Of course there is always the possibility of offering a private
archive. For example, I maintained 8.1 backports for Sarge on
people.debian.org for quite a while, until backports.org got them.

>  * Postgres major versions that once got included should continue to be
> supported and updated within the standard Debian infrastructure as long
> as supported by the Postgres project itself.

Not my favourite option, but if the postgresql maintenance team would
actually double in size (IOW, would not just be me), and
debian-{release,security}@ don't veto, it's ok with me.

I still maintain 8.2 for Ubuntu 7.04 and 7.10, which I will have to do
for the next 7 months still. But after that I can get that off my
plate, and just maintain 8.1 and 8.3.

>  * Postgres major versions dumped from testing, but once added to any
> backport should be maintained on backports even if it gets dumped from
> testing.

That would basically lift backports.org to be an officially supported
Debian archive, which it isn't, and shouldn't be.

>  * Never include Postgres major versions from testing in the backports,
> as those might get dumped from testing thus support cannot be guaranteed
> anymore. (Except perhaps when we can be very sure that this won't happen).

That's a viable option. When 8.3 was released, and Lenny's release
schedule got published (roughly at start of 2008), it was quite sure
that Lenny will ship with 8.3 only.

So, if the backports.org maintainers are ok with manual 8.2 uploads,
and you are willing to maintain them, that works for me. In that case
I'm happy to check your packages, and to discuss QA'ing procedures for

If that violates the backports.org policy, I'd rather ask them to
remove the 8.2 backport altogether, since it just doesn't make sense
any more and just bitrots.

Thanks for starting the discussion!

Martin Pitt                        | http://www.piware.de
Ubuntu Developer (www.ubuntu.com)  | Debian Developer  (www.debian.org)
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