I asked a question about the future stability of packages in the Proprietary GPU Drivers PPA. I wasn't particularly hopeful of receiving answers, but when my question was put on hold as "primarily opinion-based", I was flabbergasted. There are only three possible answers to my question that I can think of:

  • Yes. The maintainers of that PPA have a policy of ceasing substantial updates to driver packages after [amount of time] has passed (or after [event] has occurred). Here's a link to a page that details said policy. For the drivers in question, this will happen at approximately [date].
  • No. The maintainers of that PPA do have a policy of avoiding substantial updates when possible. Here's a link to a page that details said policy. However, sometimes bugs slip through the cracks anyway, and this was one of those cases.
  • No. The maintainers of that PPA have not said that they have any such policy. We could speculate about the future of the PPA based on past precedent, but in the end, you just can't depend on packages in the Proprietary GPU Drivers PPA being stable.

Obviously I don't know which of these answers is correct, or I wouldn't have asked the question. But none of these answers would be based on opinions at all.

I am aware that Ask Ubuntu doesn't deal with future releases of software, because the details of what will happen in the future can change, so any speculation about such details is just that: speculation. My question, though, is not about what will happen, but rather about when things will stop happening.

So, what about my question would cause answers to be primarily opinion-based?

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    Because nobody can predict the future? – Braiam Jun 8 '16 at 19:21
  • @Braiam Could you please answer the specific points I raised in this Meta question? – Sam Estep Jun 8 '16 at 19:22
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    Might as well ask what features will be in Ubuntu 20.04 – anonymous2 Jun 8 '16 at 19:23
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    I saw this and closed it because we don't know the answer, all we could offer is opinion. There is not really release dates for this kind of stuff and all we can do is speculate. As we deal in facts and not opinion here, your question is off topic. Only the developers know the answer, not the PPA owners, they just host it not make it and not the end users. As it is the Nvidia prop driver, they won't tell anyone. – Mark Kirby Jun 8 '16 at 19:23
  • @MarkKirby How is that different from the "no, no such policy is documented" answer that I listed in this Meta question? – Sam Estep Jun 8 '16 at 19:24
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    No. I raised what should be the main and sole problem: nobody can predict the future, so no one can answer that question accurately. That's where any other "points" lose all meaning. – Braiam Jun 8 '16 at 19:25
  • @Braiam I never asked anyone to predict the future. As I made very clear above, I'm simply asking whether a policy of avoiding substantial changes exists now, in the present. – Sam Estep Jun 8 '16 at 19:26
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    "Can I expect the NVIDIA 364.19 package to reach a "stable" point soon, after which it won't receive these sorts of updates that could potentially screw up my system?" If I say yes and you have to wait 3 years, was I right or wrong? – Braiam Jun 8 '16 at 19:29
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    We are not the maintainers, I don't know there policies, ask them. It is very different, I can't, and no one else here can tell you about there plans or policies, only they can. That still does not answer your question anyway. Your question was "When will the NVIDIA 364.19 package stabilize?" That has nothing to do with the PPA, only nvidia know the answer and I can tell you, they are not telling anyone anything. – Mark Kirby Jun 8 '16 at 19:31
  • @MarkKirby I did not know that when I posted my question. Why couldn't you have just posted that as your answer to my question instead of voting to close and leaving me in the dark? – Sam Estep Jun 8 '16 at 19:32
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    You know why the question was closed, it give you the reason "It is a matter of opinion", you would still be in the dark. "I don't know" is not an answer. – Mark Kirby Jun 8 '16 at 19:34
  • @MarkKirby If "it is a matter of opinion" really told me everything I needed to know about why my question couldn't be answered, I wouldn't have asked this Meta question. – Sam Estep Jun 8 '16 at 19:36
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    Look Sam, I don't want to fight about this, you are disgruntled, I get it, you are not the first and won't be the last. You asked why the question was closed and I told you why. The reason on the banner is very generic, it covers many, many possibilities. Sometimes it is a bit unclear but that is why we have meta and now you know why. – Mark Kirby Jun 8 '16 at 19:40

Keep in mind the key points here. The first key issue is that you are referring to a PPA. The second key issue is you are referring to Drivers.

With regards to drivers and hardware, the stability of drivers is going to be widely differing. This also applies to version

Your question explicitly states "When will the NVIDIA 364.19 package stabilize?" We can't answer that, and the stability of any drivers package can vary graphics card to graphics card. This also applies to version stabilization, since driver updates and fix packs require version bumps because of various reasons (ABI breakage, etc.; case in point how the kernel updates happen too).

When we add into account that this is a proprietary PPA, we cannot answer the question as we do not maintain the PPA, and we cannot guarantee that any users will be related to the PPA and be able to comment (this is usually the case: most PPA maintainers/groups are NOT on Ask Ubuntu). Therefore, we must vote to close it as unanswerable within the scope of the site within the confines of the available close reasons (though there is no strict rigidity to these reasons, there is some level of rigidity that must be adhered to)

The current close reasons as of today are (I just copy-pasted the close vote window is all, don't yell at me for incompleteness on things):

  1. duplicate of...
    • This question has been asked before and already has an answer.
  2. off-topic because... (some reason)
    • This question does not appear to be about Ubuntu within the scope defined in the help center.
  3. unclear what you're asking.
    • Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.
  4. too broad.
    • There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.
  5. primarily opinion-based
    • Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

The question is not a duplicate of any other one, so #1 is not an option. #2 is not an option because it is technically on topic as it is about an Ubuntu package/PPA. #3 is not valid because you are not unclear in your question.

That leaves #4 and #5. "Too Broad" could apply because the question is fairly broad - you ask "when will it be stable" and the answer ultimately becomes "Why is it not stable" with too many answers. This was one option. However, #5 is a better fit.

Close reason #5 is such that "Answers to this question will be based almost entirely on opinions." This fits.

As I stated above graphics drivers' stability will vary from graphics card to graphics card, and Ubuntu release to Ubuntu release. Therefore, someone may have a graphics card that works perfectly fine with the driver and is stable on 16.04, but you don't, or I don't, or anyone else doesn't. Because the stability of a graphics driver pacakge will vary wildly, answers regarding it (in many, but not all, cases) are opinion based. As well, nVidia doesn't visit here so there's no 'factual source' to rely on here. (You also see this in the Windows world - a driver isn't stable on all cards).

Also, you state in the question that this is in a PPA. PPAs are not officially supported even though many on this site recommend them in some cases. There is zero guarantee of PPA packages being stable (in actual usage OR in version consistency of a stable nature), which further drives the answers to all be opinion based as there's nobody who can report factually on the stability of packages on that PPA, and/or there's still no way to state the stability of a driver on any given hardware, as above.

The third part is, we are not obligated to do your research for you - if the update policy is documented somewhere, then it would have been posted on the PPA, or the team that runs it. If it is not, then we are not obligated to do the research to try and find it where documentation would not exist.

That's my analysis, and why I think your question was closed correctly as "Primarily Opinion Based".

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  • When I said "stabilize", I didn't mean "work without issue on my machine". I meant "stop receiving updates". Your answer seems to assume a completely different definition of the word "stabilize" than the one I intended. I was simply asking if there is a current, publicly documented policy of ceasing updates after some amount of time has passed or after some event has occurred, which is a question that does not require opinion or inside knowledge to answer. – Sam Estep Jun 9 '16 at 13:39
  • @SamEstep This then goes back to my PPA points: there's no way for us, as non maintainers., to answer. hence the opinion based responses. PPA policy is dependent on the PPA maintainers. As the maintainer of the very-public NGINX PPA, I quite often have received this "When will no updates take place" inquiry, and the answer is "It won't, because of the nature of the PPA." In this case, this may be the application - version stabilization is not guaranteed by PPAs, nor by the maintainers. – Thomas Ward Jun 9 '16 at 13:40
  • You don't have to be a maintainer to be able to read a publicly documented policy. If you have to be a maintainer to know a policy, it's not publicly documented. – Sam Estep Jun 9 '16 at 13:40
  • @SamEstep You may wish to reread my edits to both my comment AND this answer. If it's publicly documented, why are you asking the question? If it's publicly documented, as well, then why doesn't the PPA description link to it? You need to look at this from the developer perspective: a version change to a driver usually is because of the way that (a) PPAs handle versioning (new updates must always have a newer version #), and (b) driver fix patches usually introduce ABI breakage in many cases, and require "new" versioning, just like the kernels do. – Thomas Ward Jun 9 '16 at 13:43
  • ... Griping about it, or stating "You don't have to be [X] to read a publicly documented policy" doesn't help the situation - If there's such a public policy, you would have already found it. We still are not the PPA maintainers - if there is a public policy for it they will publish it. If there is no such publication, it falls back to the Maintainers to create or publish one, and when no such publication exists, you cannot guarantee any such policy (so assume the PPAs will never have stable version numbers). This is why any assumptions by us would be opinion-based, hence the close. – Thomas Ward Jun 9 '16 at 13:45
  • The last part of your answer is just a cop-out. "Do your research" and "it's opinion-based" are two unrelated things. You're just trying to shoehorn my question into a close reason that doesn't fit so that you can feel justified in ignoring it. Also, I did my research. I didn't find anything. Just because something's documented doesn't mean that I'll find it, so I asked my question to see if someone else knew. – Sam Estep Jun 9 '16 at 13:48
  • @SamEstep If you didn't find anything, then why ask? We aren't going to do any better than you would at finding it. And since we do not maintain the PPA, and there is no such policy you could find, any answers from us remain speculation and therefore opinion based. The situation remains the same, with no change in the outcome. It's not a cop-out, it's an analysis of the situation - you searched, found nothing; we could search, and will find nothing; only the maintainers can state the true answer, and they aren't here, nor are we them. YOu have to contact them, not here, for your answers. – Thomas Ward Jun 9 '16 at 13:53
  • So you're saying that if I search for something and don't find it, I should assume that it doesn't exist instead of asking other people if they know? That argument seems logically unsound to me. – Sam Estep Jun 9 '16 at 14:00
  • @SamEstep This discussion doesn't help your point of view. With regards to PPAs, use Ask Ubuntu as a last resort. We don't maintain all PPAs, therefore we don't have insight into PPA operations outside of our own PPAs. That's my point - you are working with a PPA, and PPAs are not governed by any Ubuntu-centric ruleset outside of release EOL dates. PPAs can operate at whatever policy set they wish, without any true rules related to frequency-of-updates. Drivers also get frequent bugfixes and updates to work with kernels. ... – Thomas Ward Jun 9 '16 at 14:02
  • ... my point is NOT to assume it doesn't exist, but to use Ask Ubuntu, a community support site, as a last resort, and to accept that if we close something as Primarily Opinion Based, then we are basing that on the fact that there is no documented public policy, and that any answers need to come from maintainers, not the community. Basically, with regards to PPAs, the idea is: research yourself, then reach out to maintainers, then use community support mediums as a last resort. Case in point, this. – Thomas Ward Jun 9 '16 at 14:03
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    @SamEstep if you want stability, you shouldn't use PPA at all. Just install a LTS distro and don't upgrade any package. – Braiam Jun 9 '16 at 14:23
  • @Braiam How can I do Vulkan development without using the PPA in question? – Sam Estep Jun 9 '16 at 14:30
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    @SamEstep well, that's the thing you have to leverage: stability vs features. – Braiam Jun 9 '16 at 14:32
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    @SamEstep no, that's exactly the point. PPA's are not meant for people that looks for stability. PPA's are for desperate users that want the latest someone can offer. – Braiam Jun 9 '16 at 14:46
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    @SamEstep this is what Launchpad answers are for. Ask Ubuntu (the community) has no stakes in the PPA game - we don't own the PPA and we cannot predict or determine anything about it. If you need an answer to your particular question, you can directly ask the PPA maintainer. Extended discussion (argument really) here, is meaningless and just creating noise. – RolandiXor Jun 9 '16 at 15:43

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