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Re: Debian testing - release number

On Thu 05 Jul 2018 at 12:58:21 (+1200), Richard Hector wrote:
> On 05/07/18 03:53, David Wright wrote:
> > On Wed 04 Jul 2018 at 13:18:14 (+1200), Richard Hector wrote:
> >> On 02/07/18 05:31, David Wright wrote:
> >>> On Sun 01 Jul 2018 at 22:44:17 (+1200), Richard Hector wrote:
> >>>> On 28/06/18 16:40, David Wright wrote:
> >>>>> On Wed 27 Jun 2018 at 19:49:13 (+0200), Martin Krämer wrote:
> >>>>>> I am wondering if it is possible to get the debian release number
> >>>>>> for debian testing (and maybe sid) from command line?
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Yes.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> # cat > /etc/debian_version
> >>>>> Write whatever you want here
> >>>>> ^D
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Job done. (That's a control-D.)
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Whether it's advisable to depend on its being numerical is a different matter.
> >>>>
> >>>> Wait, what? Are you trying to get it, or set it? Why would you want to
> >>>> edit that?
> >>>
> >>> As Brad has already pointed out, "[…] [testing] will get the official
> >>> release number 10 when buster becomes the stable branch of Debian."
> >>> That's been policy AIUI at least since Debian 1.0 was not released.
> >>> Meanwhile this question is asked, answered, and (re)submitted as a bug.
> >>>
> >>> What seems to be lost on people who feel a pressing need for
> >>> /etc/debian_version to contain a number to satisfy some script that
> >>> they have written (which seems to be the usual reason) is that
> >>> /etc/debian_version is a configuration file. Look in the
> >>> .deb file and there it is, along with /etc/issue{,.net} which
> >>> determine how you are greeted {locally,remotely}. So admins are
> >>> free to set them all how they like.
> >>
> >> I accept that you _can_ edit it. I just don't see why you'd want to,
> > 
> > I can only refer you to a recent iteration of bug reporting:
> > 
> > https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=866885
> > 
> >> especially in terms of the OP's request to find out what the version
> >> number is. If the file has the version number, fine. If not, changing
> >> the file still isn't going to help.
> > 
> > Eh? If the OP wants a version number, then changing the string to a
> > number will help.
> Equally, if I want to know what the time is, I can ask you.
> If you don't know, I can tell you.
> Then I can ask you, and now you'll know, and I'll find out.
> Right?

That's a false analogy. For the time of day, there's only one correct
answer. When software interrogates the clock to find out what the
time is, it's an error for the clock to respond with a different time.

> We must be looking at different problems.
> I'm assuming that if you're trying to look up the version number, it's
> because you don't know what it is.

The *software* that makes the enquiry doesn't know the version number,
so it reads debian_version to find out. On my systems (and most
others) the string in debian_version was chosen by the Debian release
managers in line with Debian policy.

If you've used Debian a long time, you'll know that there were nine
releases before Debian settled on increasing the version number by 1
for each release. (And if you've used TeX, you'll be familiar with
the version number approaching π from below by appending a digit.)

IOW the string is arbitrary. A sysadmin could override the release
managers' choice, and decide to add one to the version number every
time   apt-get upgrade   made any change to the package list. Seems
logical: each upgrade produces a different version of the system.