Boost Transitions; deprecating 1.34.1
Steve M. Robbins
steve at sumost.ca
Mon Feb 16 19:59:36 UTC 2009
Now that Lenny is finally released, I want to give everyone
build-depending on Boost a heads-up on what's coming. This message is
being sent to all package addresses that build-depend on the 1.34.1
release of Boost, i.e. libboost-dev, libboost-regex-dev, etc.
In a nutshell: libboost-dev is deprecated and will be removed in the
coming weeks. In its place please build-depend on libboost1.38-dev
(and siblings), which will be uploaded very shortly.
The same -dev package names have been used for Boost versions 1.21
through 1.34.1. Each time a new Boost upstream was released, all the
build-depending packages needed to be recompiled. Often, several
packages needed source tweaks due to Boost API changes. Boost is not
able to maintain a stable API across each and every Boost library .
Since Boost is used in several widely-used libraries and frameworks
(e.g. some of kde), the resulting transition entangled a large number
of packages and became too painful.
As a result, starting with Boost 1.35: each Boost release is packaged
in its own set of -dev packages, e.g. libboost1.37-dev,
libboost-regex1.37-dev. This allows each of the build-depending
package to transition at their own schedule. Hopefully, the
transition is as easy as changing the Build-Depends line and
Although the parallel -dev packages serve to reduce the pain caused by
each new Boost version, an explosion of boost versions is also
difficult to manage. The Debian boost maintainers would like to keep
a maximum of two boost versions at any one time. This desire is
tempered by the fact that in the past year, Boost moved to quarterly
releases. Such a pace requires that everyone update their boost
build-depends line at least twice a year. I hope this is viewed
as a reasonable compromise. Your thoughts on the matter are
Note that Boost 1.38 was just released. It is not yet uploaded but I
hope to do so in the next day or two. That means you won't see it for
some time, as it must pass through the NEW queue. In the meanwhile,
you can use the existing Boost 1.37 packages to investigate what the
transition means for your code.
-Steve (for the Debian Boost maintainer team)
 This has been debated widely on the Boost lists and elsewhere.
See, e.g. http://lists.boost.org/Archives/boost/2008/03/135212.php for
practical experience in API changes. There was a recent thread -- see
http://lists.boost.org/Archives/boost/2009/01/147260.php -- about the
monolithic nature of Boost. Neither has been resolved, so we feel
that the current practice is the best compromise between keeping Boost
current in Debian without too many entangling transitions.
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