Installing FF Quantum via sid and apt pinning

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Installing FF Quantum via sid and apt pinning

Postby Lysander » 2017-11-27 09:52

I came across this article which describes installing FF57. Seeing as this browser is getting a lot of interest, I thought it was worth mentioning:

https://linuxconfig.org/how-to-install- ... etch-linux

Now this article describes the process as 'easy' and recommends two things, both of which I thought were generally inadvisable unless the user really knows what they are doing.

1. Including a sid repo in sources.list on a non-sid system
2. apt pinning

I imagine there's nothing wrong with apt pinning per se but I was under the impression that it's only advisable if one is an experienced user.

I am in no rush to use FF57 and use other browsers myself, but thought it pertinent to include a topic on this since other users may well come across this article and attempt its advice, which could, I think, have negative effects.
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Re: Installing FF Quantum via sid and apt pinning

Postby Thorny » 2017-11-27 15:50

Lysander wrote:I am in no rush to use FF57 and use other browsers myself, but thought it pertinent to include a topic on this since other users may well come across this article and attempt its advice, which could, I think, have negative effects.

If you analyse the instructions on that site you would see that first they pin almost all packages to "stable", thus escaping the danger of having an unstable repo in the sources list that might upgrade other packages when you don't want that, then they pin Firefox and the packages it needs to the unstable version so that the Firefox will be upgraded as new binaries enter Sid.

The risks with both pining and using a Sid repository are largely due to lack of knowledge on the part of the user and mistakes made because of that. The site you mention has a method that, if followed exactly, would work. (At least until a new "stable" Debian is released but they did describe this as a way to use FF57 in Stretch and it should work for the life of Stretch.)


For me, downloading FF57 directly from Mozilla as a tar.bz2 and running the firefox executable from the directory that it expands the files to is just as easy. Also, it is covered in the Debian Wiki for Firefox. https://wiki.debian.org/Firefox It does not involve either pining or using a Sid repo. I guess I agree with you and think my recommendation for new users would be to follow the Debian Wiki as that might be safer for the inexperienced.
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Re: Installing FF Quantum via sid and apt pinning

Postby Lysander » 2017-11-28 09:12

Thorny wrote:The risks with both pining and using a Sid repository are largely due to lack of knowledge on the part of the user and mistakes made because of that. The site you mention has a method that, if followed exactly, would work.


So therefore it can be OK to have different branch repos if pinning is done correctly. I acknowledge that this is something of a rarity though.

Thorny wrote:I guess I agree with you and think my recommendation for new users would be to follow the Debian Wiki as that might be safer for the inexperienced.


Indeed, I would also be rather nervous to try it, only because I haven't used pinning before. I don't need to in this case, but I think the article should at least come with a warning that in many situations, adding different branch repos is not advisable.
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Re: Installing FF Quantum via sid and apt pinning

Postby Thorny » 2017-11-28 11:40

Lysander wrote:Indeed, I would also be rather nervous to try it, only because I haven't used pinning before. I don't need to in this case, but I think the article should at least come with a warning that in many situations, adding different branch repos is not advisable.

Well most articles don't give warnings about things that they haven't suggested doing. It was not describing adding different branch repos in general, it was about adding a specific version of a package and its dependencies from an upstream repo after making sure other, stable, packages would not be undesirably affected, that wasn't mentioned but undoubtedly it was done. Often descriptions of how to do things in Debian are written assuming a mature, knowledgeable, experienced Debian user, it really isn't a newbie friendly distro, its intention is to be a stable one when properly configured.

Determining that dependencies could be satisfied without breaking other things might be a bit easier with a package like Firefox but inexperienced users are often not good at determining that and/or fixing things if they break. Running what used to be called a "mixed system" has always been an advanced topic and "not recommended" for the normal user. There is no checkbox for "do this without problems". And no list for "just check this and this and you are good to go". And, unfortunately, sometimes the problems don't manifest immediately, sometimes the following upgrade is when things become problematic. (And, you would need to consult your logbook to see what you wrote down that you did previously.)

"Don't Break Debian", which is often repeated here in the forums, is the best advice in general, at least until you can understand and fix Debian.
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