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6:08 AM
@Kusalananda There probably should be separate and tags.
Though technically Linux isn't an OS, I'm not sure what other name would be suitable.
@FaheemMitha That's effectively what we have today, but with "linux" taking the place of the "linux-os" tag.
There is a "linux-kernel" tag.
, perhaps? But that seems quite clumsy.
@Kusalananda Oh, ok.
1 hour later…
7:22 AM
is one tag where I’ll be somewhat pleased the day I get the gold badge
7:34 AM
assuming I’m still around and SE is still around
8:00 AM
@StephenKitt I didn't realise there were a lot of questions about that here.
Oh, mostly user level questions, it looks like.
This one isn't, though - unix.stackexchange.com/q/588240/4671
So there are still technical users out there who don't seem to be active on SE at all. Other than reading, I suppose.
@FaheemMitha a few, and a few of them have led to kernel patches ;-)
@StephenKitt Oh. Example?
Q: Linux Kernel.org misleading about kernel panic

red0ctI always have /proc/sys/kernel/panic set up to 0. Looking at description of this option in kernel.org we can see: panic: The value in this file represents the number of seconds the kernel waits before rebooting on a panic. When you use the software watchdog, the recommended setting i...

@StephenKitt Ah, a documentation fix. Cool. Does that count as a kernel patch?
8:16 AM
@FaheemMitha it does in my mind, I like it when a project’s docs match the code...
@StephenKitt Ok.
8:38 AM
If sources.debian.org/stats is accurate, the number of source packages in Debian is approaching 30k. When I first started using Debian, around potato, it was slightly under 3k.
But the rate of growth seems to be slowing. Though I suppose that's not surprising.
suggests it’s accelerating
9:28 AM
@StephenKitt It depends on what time scale one uses.
1 hour later…
10:53 AM
@StephenKitt the mod team's discussing whether we should delete this answer as too dangerous and likely to break your system. Since you're our resident Debian expert, what do you think?
A: How to install Python 3.6?

Егор ГвоздиковEditorial note: Please read the comments to this answer. Debian does not have Python 3.6 in its repositories, but testing has it. $ sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list # add deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian testing main $ echo 'APT::Default-Release "stable";' | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/apt.conf.d...

Thoughts welcome from others too, of course.
11:12 AM
@terdon I’d vote to delete the complete Q&A, people needing Python >= 3.6 should run Debian 10 (which has 3.7)
of course given how often this crops up, we should turn Gregory Nisbet’s answer into a canonical “I want Python 20.eleventeen on Debian 52” Q&A
@StephenKitt Yes, OK, but presumably the answers all work for "How can I get a newer python version than what I currently have?"
@terdon the accepted one doesn’t, it relies on a specific stable/testing/unstable setup which isn’t always valid
@StephenKitt Aren't python environments the way to go? Changing the system wide python version seems like a horrible idea under any circumstances.
@terdon yes, they are, using the approach in Gregory’s answer
@StephenKitt Ah, indeed. I missed that he was talking about virtualenv, I thought it was only compiling locally.
11:16 AM
that’s really the general approach for many, many “I want newer foo” questions: the packages are there for the system, if you’re developing, you should use your development environment’s package management and its virtual environment system
and then deploy using containers but I may have been infected by this whole cloud malarky
Has Debian changed to be more dangerous with regard to pulling packages from 'testing' lately? I don't remember it going horribly wrong before. It's not that you could usefully pull just a single package though, as they'll pull newer versions of libraries etc.
@ilkkachu no, it doesn’t go horribly wrong, but it results in a system which requires more knowledge to maintain
so it’s not really appropriate for general advice on a site such as this
Which is a caveat, yes. But making it delete-worthy?
the Internet already gives enough bad advice as it is ;-)
@ilkkachu look at the number of questions which start with “I followed some advice, my system is now utterly broken, help me fix it now”
I thought the idea was to allow people to post their answers and others to vote on them... (not that it always ends with the right solution, but still)
11:26 AM
people don’t read caveats
people also don’t read past the accepted answer
then they get broken systems.
Don't try this - it will take you ages to undo — user3728501 Dec 16 '17 at 17:23
As of 9/15/2018 it is still risky: I tried this on a Raspberry Pi with Debian stretch and ran into segmentation faults after the Python 3.6 upgrade from testing pulled in an updated libc6 and libc6-dev. — drott Sep 15 '18 at 7:28
April 2019, still a "Bad Idea®©™", I did that yesterday, I should have been afraid of the long list of packages that would be removed, the system was in shambles, after reboot I didn't have X anymore, I didn't try to fix that and I installed Ubuntu. — lolesque Apr 9 '19 at 11:02
Please delete this dangerous answer omg — Daniel W. May 9 '19 at 13:30
@ilkkachu And we try to avoid that.
Recovering from dependency hell is not easy even for experienced users.
shall we delete every other incorrect answer from the site too?
I mean, doesn't that mean that the SE system doesn't work
@ilkkachu perhaps a better solution here would be to turn the A into a community wiki, and rewrite it so it’s correct; the A’s author is a one-shot wonder with no participation before or since
Sure, there are better answers: starting from seeing if the newer Debian packages would compile against the old version. Or compiling it from source. Or upgrading the whole thing to testing or unstable, so that you at least have a somewhat consistent set of packages (not that running them was actually supported either, IIRC). Or installing some other distro that packages what they wanted. But deleting that just because people didn't read the warning on top of the answer?? :D
11:34 AM
@ilkkachu incorrect? No. Actively dangerous? Yes, absolutely.
The warning was added very recently and relies on comments which can be deleted. If we decide to keep it, we will have to add a much clearer warning.
And this is coming from a mod who started a meme by giving dangerous advice, and learned from it, so we know it’s well thought out.
but more to the point, that really seems like a horrible solution. So I really don't see the benefit of keeping it at all.
@StephenKitt lol
Yes, I saw the dates, the warning was added the previous comment. But before the latest, which I figure brought this up...
@terdon I've run a Debian system with packages pulled from testing...
@ilkkachu What do you do for a living?
@terdon No, I didn't do it in a professional setting, if that's what you're asking.
11:37 AM
You don't need to answer that :) My point is, would you consider yourself an average Debian/Ubuntu user?
Or considerably more experienced and knowledgeable with the system than average?
And that doesn't mean it would be a very good solution, but it's not something that would immediately kill your cat and blow up your computer...
Just to add my two cents here, and I'm biased from being in the LQP queue regularly, the A attempts to answer the question. IMHO, the edits and comments frame it. Votes should account for the rest. (Yes, the mod team has opinions) :)
To be honest, I haven't used Debian based systems in several years now, so I am not really competent to judge just how dangerous this is.
IMHO, anyone blindly trying advice they got on the internet gets to keep both pieces
BUT, if there is a reasonable chance of its breaking a user's system in ways most users can't recover from, then I would argue we don't need it around. Especially when there are other, better and safer methods posted.
11:39 AM
@terdon For the sake of argument, let's say "above average", though I'm Finnish and loathe to write even that. But where does the line go? Should we allow for different solutions to be presented, or draw a line somewhere about solutions that require "too much experience"?
Yes, the fact that it's the accepted answer, and on top, and doesn't provide other solutions is... not a very good thing.
there is the other, higher-voted answer. and probably other Q/A's.
@ilkkachu I would say that requiring experience to manage to implement the solution is fine. But something that is trivial to do BUT will break your system in ways that will require experience to fix it is a different thing.
to put this in XKCD terms, the accepted answer is the “how to” variant
I don't suppose there's any way to remove the 'accepted' flag from that? Or have otherwise drop lower on the page?
perhaps advertising the Answer here will attract "enough" downvotes
11:41 AM
(and of course XKCD answers usually end up with the whole world being destroyed)
@StephenKitt "Is this a bad plan?" -"Definitely" (paraphrasing)
@JeffSchaller it’s sort of like Titanic; the interesting part isn’t the end, it’s how you get there
you might be one of today's 10,000!
@ilkkachu excellent, exactly, and the equivalent in many users’ minds is “what if we added another repository?”
11:44 AM
@ilkkachu no, unfortunately. Even if it is downvoted to oblivion, it will always appear 1st on the page.
@StephenKitt well, that's the recommended solution in a lot of cases...
there was a Q recently where the user had 40-odd PPAs, and mentioned in passing that that might be the cause of their problems
@ilkkachu yes :-(
@terdon well, there should be... :(
But there isn't.
what happens if you mod-delete an accepted answer, and undelete it? does it come back accepted?
11:46 AM
But let's get back to this. Our objective here is to build a library of good solutions to *nix problems. With that in mind, and considering that we have several answers giving better approaches, what are the arguments in favor of keeping an answer that is at best sub-optimal and at worst actively harmful?
oooOOO "don't say 'want to find out?', don't say 'want to find out?'" OOOooo
@JeffSchaller I was going to say 'Only one way to find out.'
@StephenKitt Damn. No idea. I think so, since the accept is just a bit set in the DB presumably.
@JeffSchaller I still have an open meta-Q which seems relevant
@terdon we have suboptimal answers all over the site. do we delete all of them, leaving only the accepted answer on each Q?
11:47 AM
@terdon The fact that the site is supposed to work by the votes, not by moderator fiat (even fiat by the moderator team)
@JeffSchaller at best sub-optimal and at worst actively harmful. The latter part is the important one IMO.
@JeffSchaller There are probably suboptimal accepted answers around the site, too. Partly because people tend to accept the first one, and better ones take longer to write.
@ilkkachu Yes. That is a strong argument. Also why I brought it up here and may take it to meta.
@terdon and on every other 'bad' answer, we vote & comment on it, explaining how it's bad (if it's not fixable)
@terdon meta would be better IMO
11:48 AM
I've deleted answers suggesting fork bombs. granted, they were posted to screw with people though
@ilkkachu I second this. If nothing else, so I don't have to be a technical arbiter of everything
it’s the “accepted” thing that messes with the voting thing
sort of like Aes Sedai
Aes Sedai? How did they come into this?
@terdon yes, that implies intent. And I can't figure how fork bombs could be even remotely useful anywhere, but I don't know the context, of course.
@terdon “accepted”
11:49 AM
@ilkkachu load testing?? shrug
I’m reading my way through the Wheel of Time just now ;-)
Oh. My sincerest condolences.
@StephenKitt did you mean unix.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5279/… here? (we can dead-end this if it's not important)
@JeffSchaller on a similar topic, what about answers which don’t stand alone?
@StephenKitt It's also the timing, first comers who are at least in the right direction get votes and then show on top
11:50 AM
@ilkkachu yes, and a host of other factors
like high-rep users attract upvotes
I’ve written egregiously wrong answers which got tons of upvotes before I realised I was wrong
@JeffSchaller well ok, "testing the system performance in adverse conditions". The black hatted guy from xkcd comes to mind now.
So, I see three issues here. 1) Is this answer really dangerous enough to justify deletion? 2) Do we really want mods to go around deleting answers they consider dangerous?
as in, 40+ in one case (it hit HNQ)
@StephenKitt are they "directionally correct", as they say, towards the Question? What are they missing, generally speaking?
@terdon d) have we other options?
11:51 AM
I think the answer to 2 is a clear "no" unless the issue is blindingly obvious (e.g. posting rm -rf --no-preserve-root as an answer to a random question).
@JeffSchaller I have some in mind which add information to other answers, without answering the question
@StephenKitt ahhh, those I convert to comments, or (potentially) edit into the other A
@ilkkachu d!? D!? not "3)" and not even "c)"? You're screwing with my OCD now! :P
iiii) number things very incorrectly
@JeffSchaller In some of the cases I've written, just to add information, like Stephen said, they were missing e.g. the correct way to do it :F
11:53 AM
@JeffSchaller like this one
@terdon you said you had "three things", I reserved spot (3) for you.
Oh. Damn. I thought I did!
More seriously, what do you mean other options? Non-accepted answers can be downvoted until they're <0 and then +20k users can vote to delete them. Accepted answers, however, can only be dealt with by mods.
@terdon they can also be edited beyond all recognition
and since the answer’s “owner” isn’t active on the site, no feathers will be ruffled
We had another situation like this a while back where the OP had accepted a very wrong answer, which couldn't be deleted because it was accepted and was just accumulating downvotes. The answerer ended up flagging and asking us to delete since they couldn't do it themselves.
@terdon anything. I might not know them all. Editing being the obvious one. Adding banners with warnings and links to better answers. Hiding the bad answer in a spoiler block. I don't know :(
11:55 AM
@StephenKitt Yes. But that, again, is something I'm not comfortable doing. I might if it were on a subject I was expert enough in to be sure my answer would be 100% correct, but not on this one.
@ilkkachu Ah right. Yes, adding a warning is done often enough.
@terdon but choosing to delete also requires being an expert
and the whole point of moderating is that you’re not supposed to be experts
Although arguably less so.
which is why you brought it up here of course ;-)
11:55 AM
I accept that the answer there shouldn't be on the top, I don't like the idea of massive edits, but deleting really feels like something my gut opposes. :/
@StephenKitt Also true, yes.
@ilkkachu Yeah, I do get that.
@StephenKitt whew! :)
@JeffSchaller well, you are supposed to be SE experts, or end up being SE experts :-P
Anyway why do people even find that question since 3.7 is already in stable
and “soft skill” experts
11:57 AM
@ilkkachu probably looking to upgrade to whatever version is the next one today.
@ilkkachu that was my initial reaction ;-)
yes. but it does lead to an alternate option: delete the whole Q and A
@terdon It's possible (and not even difficult), to install more recent versions of Python alongside the official versoins. If it is done carefully, it's completely safe. I think I might have done this once or twice. The main thing you have to watch out for is to avoid making that more recent version the default. If you do that, then of course bad things will happen. But I think this is dealt with by suitable tweaking of the build files. And of course, it will need to be rebuilt on the system.
@ilkkachu which is what I suggested above
(Lots of sudden messages since I last looked...)
11:58 AM
it's obsolete. Gone times. Might have been useful before. Just a dead weight now. An ex-question.
@FaheemMitha and that’s all explained in GAD3R’s answer
@StephenKitt that's a perfect "add a comment" situation. The A was even edited to reflect the misunderstanding.
@StephenKitt ah, sorry, I missed it. +1 to that.
@StephenKitt Oh, sorry. Hadn't actually looked at the question.
Yes. And in all of the multiple other answers.
12:00 PM
@JeffSchaller which is what I did ;-). But I thought answers were supposed to stand alone, i.e. still mean something even if all the other answers are deleted.
@ilkkachu Why would that not go against your gut though? If you object to deleting a single answer, isn't deleting all of them even worse?
Is it that mods aren't picking and choosing?
GAD3R is talking about a local install.
@terdon Yes I did just wonder about that, too :) Partly because it's not the mods picking and choosing. Of course, in this case it would be a bit of a cop-out, since we'd use another excuse to delete the whole lot basically just to avoid the messy thing.
Oh, I see I actually wrote a (hurried) answer to that question...
A: How to install Python 3.6?

Faheem MithaPython 3.6 (though rc1) just arrived in Debian experimental. I was able to successfully build this on Debian stable (jessie). See the final steps of the build pasted below. However, that doesn't mean it will install successfully and not cause problems. A reasonable next step would be to test it ...

Quite a poor attempt on my part.
(I say "we", because, well, we're all in it now.)
12:02 PM
But perhaps I had other things on my mind.
@StephenKitt sure; it says "(misdirected stuff), oops I misunderstood, (more stuff)". If they self-deleted it fine. If there was pressure on me to delete it, I'd consider it (and whether I felt comfortable enough deciding it wasn't directed at the Q at all any more)
@ilkkachu Yeah, I can understand how that would leave a different "taste".
@FaheemMitha oh, you mean installing packages? yes, that works, but it’s rarely supported — stable releases are only supposed to have a single version of each major release of Python
so parallel installs work because that’s how we drive transitions
@StephenKitt Yes, backporting. But for many years Debian had like 2.5, 2.6, 2.7 etc, all in parallel. So I think the infrastructure is still there.
And of course this question is around 3 1/2 years old, so I don't know if it would work now.
@FaheemMitha the infrastructure is still there, yes, and it’s still used, but I don’t think there were ever that many versions in parallel in a stable release
currently testing has 3.7 and 3.8
but stable only has 3.7
back to the question at hand: @terdon, I think the first comment should be deleted anyway, it’s obsolete and misleading
(thanks to cas’ edit)
the second comment too, since it mentions experimental
12:07 PM
@StephenKitt There were, but it was a long time ago.
I remember because at some point I went in there and had to manually purge all the old python versions and libraries that nothing was using anymore. Similarly for gcc and accompanying libraries.
@FaheemMitha that doesn’t mean they were all in stable simultaneously, they could have been left over from upgrades
I think I didn't write a more detailed answer because I didn't think anyone would care. As history shows, they didn't.
@StephenKitt Oh. That's true, yes.
@StephenKitt OK. Could you flag them from me please? Just to have a record.
@terdon yup, doing so now (every 5s), I also edited the A
Curious, when you gurus write programs, do you always write its dependencies? So for example, when you upgrade your OS and libraries, everything is broken, and you have to either rewrite your programs or look for the particular versions of dependencies to install? Or do you keep faith in the backward compatibility of the dependencies?
12:16 PM
That top Python 3.6 answer is horribly wrong.
But that's probably not news to anyone. Other than the 78 people who upvoted it.
Is Python already 6?
@Tim No. Careless typing on my part.
@FaheemMitha the thing is that it works, and the consequences won’t be apparent until later
@Tim Ideally one would have a build recipe alongside ones programs. Using e.g. autotools or CMake or whatever.
@StephenKitt As in many other things.
For some reason, I am reading some statistics books which I studied a few years ago.
This time, I am trying to give them a high level reading
mathematical statistics books: Rice's, Casella's, Bickel's
12:20 PM
And ideally programs are not super sensitive to dependency versions. Though sometimes it is necessary (or just preferable) to write for the bleeding edge, like when an ecosystem is evolving rapidly.
Biber is an example of a program that annoyingly insists on using the most recent version of Perl. 5, I think. I'm not a Perl user, but apparently it has something to do with evolving multilingual support.
But it's a pain when one is trying to backport.
Currently perl (>= 5.26).
I thought Perl 5 was a maintenance branch. Isn't there a Perl 6 now?
I read a little about multivariate statistics, nonparametric statistics, time series, bayesian statistics, but didn't get to understand well before being forced to stop
@FaheemMitha Perl 6 is a substantially different language, and Perl 5 will continue to be developed
What an unfortunate thing
how can perl 6 be backward compatible with 5?
without sacrificing a lot
I am now wondering if Rust and Julia are better languages than C++ and Python or perl 6. That makes me interested in knowing the two sometime (not sure when)
@StephenKitt They should have used a different name then.
I have seen some said that programming languages are coverging to ML languages
Is that true?
12:26 PM
@FaheemMitha yes, it’s called Raku now
@StephenKitt Oh.
Does that mean the name "perl" is phasing out?
@Tim Better is not a well-defined term wrt to programming languages.
is raku pronounced as racoon?
Or most other things, really.
12:27 PM
@StephenKitt Perfect, thanks! I think I'll just leave it at that, then. cc @JeffSchaller
I'd have thought it would be simpler just to delete it.
@FaheemMitha Were you specialized in bioinformatics
or general statistics
What are your favorite topics and books in statistics?
@FaheemMitha Me too, but enough people object that I'm not comfortable doing it.
@Tim I don't have a speciality in anything. I used to work on what I was told to work on.
Often I didn't like it. But lemons -> lemonade.
@terdon People objected in chat? I didn't read through the whole backlog.
12:39 PM
What are/were your favorite books in statistics then?
Not vehemently or anything, we had a very nice, constructive discussion. As far as I'm concerned, since the reaction wasn't a resounding "yes, absolutely, delete it", I won't.
@Tim If you're asking me, I don't have any.
@ilkkachu It's not dangerous. But you need to be careful, and need to know what you are doing. And you also often need to rebuild locally. But not always. I backport stuff all the time. It's my standard way of getting newer releases.
You can't just install binaries that are meant for a newer version of a system, and expect everything to be fine. Not on Unix-like systems, at least.
The current shared library model has its limitations.
@FaheemMitha Nix users might disagree ;-)
@StephenKitt I see that Nix is a Linux distribution, but I'm not familiar with it.
And I don't see how they would get around the limitations of the underlying model without a lot of duplication.
any way, I need to continue my reading. Jumping heavily between topics is unfortunate but happens
Nix is not a Linux distribution
12:52 PM
@FaheemMitha yes, that’s their solution: multiple versions of dependencies can co-exist, in separate dependency trees
@Tim indeed, it’s a package manager
Before Nix, what did people use instead?
@StephenKitt Debian doesn't do that for maintenance reasons. But you already know that.
@Tim What they're still using. Red Hat: Rpm/apt/yum/dnf, Debian: dpkg/apt etc.
But I heard Nix is involved in software development, such as for Python
more often than dkpg/apt.
Am I hallucinating
@Tim I'm not sure what you mean.
So were your teachers and courses so good, you didn't need books or like any?
I have never met a teacher or taken a course like that
1:04 PM
@ilkkachu Backporting is often possible, unless there are too many dependencies against newer versions. Then you end up going into an unpleasant recursive loop.
But bear in mind that the dependencies that Debian packages declare are often not sharp. So one can often get away with older versions.
1:24 PM
@terdon, re that debian python thing, I see Stephen added a bigger warning, but was there a way for mods to add some special banner to posts? I have a vague idea of seeing such in some stack, but I'm not sure
2:01 PM
@ilkkachu Yes, but only specific ones. We can't write our own. We can just use one of these three:
@terdon well, not much use that either, then
2:57 PM
@ilkkachu If you haven't seen it already, look at unix.stackexchange.com/q/112157/4671 and the corresponding answer.
The question has a downvote for some reason. Weird.
I made the answer CW, which I kind of regret. Because someone made an unfortunate edit. I probably should fix it.
I don't know if anyone here has followed the TV version of "The Magicians", which recently ended after 5 seasons.
I just finished watching the first season. They really didn't follow the books closely at all.
Normally that would not be a good thing, but in this case, the script writers are clearly very invested in the material, and thought they did a good job with their modifications.
The casting is also pretty good.
They completely threw out the dramatic climax of Book 1, though. Maybe they'll use it later.
Huh, just noticed that they only have the first two seasons on Amazon Prime Video.
Maybe they removed it. I thought they had them all.
1 hour later…
4:10 PM
I realise this is wildly off topic, but does anyone here feel competent to give advice about fertilizer?
4:21 PM
Jul 11 '19 at 8:06, by Michael Homer
If you're really keen on the mathematical side, Agda may be more your speed than Haskell, but it's a nightmare to make actual programs in
@FaheemMitha I saw some rural areas make fertilizer out of human feces
@Tim I think I'll pass on that, but thanks for the suggestion.
4 hours later…
8:32 PM
@Tim To be clear, I don't think you should take up Agda
2 hours later…
10:47 PM
@MichaelHomer I hear you
@StephenKitt your bronze medals across the network are 999, regarding your 666 achievements on this site

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