Preparing Updates for Stable
The Debian project has to provide updates for the stable distribution, so that known security problems are not distributed forever. An update to the stable distribution contains mostly security updates and only a few other corrections.
An updated release does not obsolete the release without the update or CD images pressed CDs/DVDs or the like. It does not make sense to stop distributing them because Debian provided an update. It's just an update, no major release. No new features were added, only some very serious bugs were fixed.
Therefore, encourage distributors not to announce the r* component of the version number too much, since they don't mean too much.
Whenever a Debian system is installed an the administrator or owner would like a secure system, it has to be synchronised against security.debian.org. For this it is totally irrelevant whether the pure stable release was used or an updated release.
Warranting an Update
Many bugs and problems don't warrant an update to the stable distribution, since the stable Debian distribution is meant as stable and static target. This is important for users and entities that cannot affort a major upgrade every few months. However, some problems are severe enough to warrant an update to the stable distribution. A few are listed below.
In general as little as possible should be changed in an update since users depend on a particular behaviour and design of a package. If you have to prepare an update, change as little as possible. It's always a good idea to send the changes to the stable release manager for review before actually uploading any package.
- A security problem has been found and fixed. Packages should go through the security team and should be authored by its members.
- It turned out after the release that the license of a package prohibits it to be kept in main but may be distributed in non-free. In such a case, the update should only change the section. Be warned: you'll have to supply packages for all architectures, since non-free is not covered by the buildd network.
- It turned out after the release that the license of a package prohibits it to be kept in main and may not even be distributed at all. It will be removed.
- Corrections for severe data corruption or data loss may go into an update.
- Updates that help a smooth upgrade from this stable release to the next one. The changes should be as small as possible.