3

Is it normal to have alpha and beta packages installed on LTS release by default?

On a server I manage I noticed that there are installed packages that are marked as alpha or beta. As far as I know, I have only installed packages from default repositories and have not enabled any testing repository or installed packages from unofficial sources.

If it is normal to have alpha or beta versions on LTS release, are they stable enough to be reliable for production use?

My server version:

Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description:    Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS
Release:        16.04
Codename:       xenial

Alpha and beta packages installed on the server:

dpkg -l |egrep "beta|alpha"
ii  grub-common                      2.02~beta2-36ubuntu3.8             amd64        GRand Unified Bootloader (common files)
ii  grub-pc                          2.02~beta2-36ubuntu3.8             amd64        GRand Unified Bootloader, version 2 (PC/BIOS version)
ii  grub-pc-bin                      2.02~beta2-36ubuntu3.8             amd64        GRand Unified Bootloader, version 2 (PC/BIOS binaries)
ii  grub2-common                     2.02~beta2-36ubuntu3.8             amd64        GRand Unified Bootloader (common files for version 2)
ii  liblzma5:amd64                   5.1.1alpha+20120614-2ubuntu2       amd64        XZ-format compression library
ii  python-apt-common                1.1.0~beta1build1                  all          Python interface to libapt-pkg (locales)
ii  python3-apt                      1.1.0~beta1build1                  amd64        Python 3 interface to libapt-pkg
ii  xz-utils                         5.1.1alpha+20120614-2ubuntu2       amd64        XZ-format compression utilities

This is what I have at /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial main restricted
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial main restricted

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-updates main restricted
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-updates main restricted

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial universe
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial universe
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-updates universe
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-updates universe

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial multiverse
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial multiverse
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-updates multiverse
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-updates multiverse

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-backports main restricted universe multiverse
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-backports main restricted universe multiverse

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-security main restricted
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-security main restricted
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-security universe
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-security universe
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-security multiverse
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-security multiverse
3
  • 4
    Presumably, those alpha/beta packages didn't break anything during the testing period, and therefore where considered stable. Whether it is normal or only somewhat normal, or not at all normal is really the matter of one's opinion. If you need to know for sure, ask on the Ubuntu Devs mailing list. Generally, it's not uncommon to have some alpha/beta packages in every release. – mikewhatever Mar 17 '17 at 10:13
  • @DavidFoerster Posted it. :~) – mikewhatever Mar 17 '17 at 13:57
  • And some software stay for years in alpha/beta while being perfectly usable. – muru Mar 18 '17 at 3:56
5

Presumably, those alpha/beta packages didn't break anything during the testing period, and therefore were considered stable. As you may know, every Ubuntu release undergoes a testing/development period of about 6 months.
Whether it is normal, or only somewhat normal, or not at all normal is really a matter of opinion. If you need to know for sure, ask on the Ubuntu Devs mailing list.
Generally, it's not uncommon to have some alpha/beta packages in every release.

2

Each software developer (or group of developers) will have different standards for what makes "alpha" or "beta" software, and what makes a final release.

A "beta" version of Grub might actually be far more stable and better-tested than a "final release" version of, say, LibreOffice -- but it's not possible to know just by the name the developers gave it.

Different groups of programmers have different quality and testing standards, development cycles, and even different definitions of terms like "beta".

However, as @mikewhatever points out, if the software was included in the Ubuntu LTS release, you can rest assured that it has been relatively well-tested and is known to be stable, without any known major problems.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.