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When searching for available GRUB2 packages for the Debian v9.11.0 "Stretch", I get only beta packages listed:

root@Debian:~# apt search GRUB2
Sorting... Done
Full Text Search... Done
grub-imageboot/oldstable 0.6 all
  boot iso, harddisk and floppy images with grub2 and syslinux memdisk

grub2/oldstable,now 2.02~beta3-5+deb9u2 amd64 [residual-config]
  GRand Unified Bootloader, version 2 (dummy package)

grub2-common/oldstable 2.02~beta3-5+deb9u2 amd64
  GRand Unified Bootloader (common files for version 2)

grub2-splashimages/oldstable 1.0.1+nmu1 all
  a collection of great GRUB2 splashimages

live-wrapper/oldstable 0.6+nmu1 all
  Wrapper for vmdebootstrap for creating live images

live-wrapper-doc/oldstable 0.6+nmu1 all
  Wrapper for vmdebootstrap for creating live images (Documentation)

vmdebootstrap/oldstable 1.7-1 amd64
  Bootstrap Debian into a (virtual machine) disk image

As you can see, this search returns only beta packages. I had to jump through hoops to install a stable GRUB2 package, see: How to upgrade GRUB v1 to GRUB v2 without installing a Beta version?

QUESTION: Why does the Debian "Stretch" repository contain only beta versions of the GRUB2 in the first place ? After all, the stable GRUB v2.00 was released 5 years BEFORE Debian "Stretch" was released, see here: ftp.gnu.org/gnu/grub

Is this a bug in this distro's repository ?

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Those were the best available versions when Debian 9 was released.

Looking at the changelog leading up to version 2.02~beta3-5deb9u2 provides some explanation:

  • 2.00 was indeed released in 2012, and uploaded to Debian experimental; it was uploaded to unstable (targeting the next stable release) in May 2013, after 14 revisions in Debian (and with a number of fixes from Ubuntu);
  • many uploads of 2.00 with additional fixes followed, suggesting that 2.00 suffered from a number of bugs;
  • in December 2013, a snapshot of the GRUB repository was packaged, with many more fixes, confirming the above;
  • subsequent beta releases were packaged, again in experimental first, fixed, and eventually released in Debian 9, with a large number of patches on top of the official “beta” release.

So you could have a “stable” 2.00 version if you wanted, but you’d have to live with all the bugs which were discovered afterwards. The important thing to remember really is that a version number (including “alpha”, “beta” etc. monikers) is a name, chosen by the upstream developers; ideally it gives some indication of stability, but in many cases that’s wishful thinking; especially with a project like GRUB, where there’s little hope that the upstream developers can test all the cases which will be encountered in the field.

As with any package in a distribution, you’re trusting the distribution’s developers’ judgment. If they end up shipping what seems like a surprising version number of a given project, there’s often a good reason behind the situation (but it doesn’t hurt to ask!).

  • 1
    Even easier: Notice that it is 2.02, not 2.00 as the questioner looks at. Debian 9 was frozen in January 2017. GRUB 2.02 was released out of beta in April 2017. – JdeBP Jan 6 at 12:33
  • Yes, I had noticed that, but that begs the question “why didn’t Debian stay on 2.00 instead of jumping to beta versions?” which is what I tried to answer. – Stephen Kitt Jan 6 at 12:34
  • ...but the newer Debian "Buster" installs the stable GRUB v2.02+dfsg1-20 package. Why can't "Stretch" do that ? – George Robinson Jan 6 at 12:34
  • No, 2.02+dfsg1-20 is newer that the 2.02 beta versions. 2.02 beta versions are pre-releases of 2.02. – Stephen Kitt Jan 6 at 12:35

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