webkitgtk is the GTK+ port of WebKit. webkitgtk provides web functionality for many things including GNOME Online Accounts’ login panels; Evolution’s HTML email editor and viewer; and the engine for the Epiphany web browser (also known as GNOME Web).
Last year, I announced here that Debian 9 “Stretch” included the latest version of webkitgtk (Debian’s package is named webkit2gtk). At the time, I hoped that Debian 9 would get periodic security and bugfix updates. Nine months later, let’s see how we’ve been doing.
Debian 9.0, released June 17, 2017, included webkit2gtk 2.16.3 (up to date).
Debian 9.1 was released July 22, 2017 with no webkit2gtk update (2.16.5 was the current release at the time).
Debian 9.2, released October 8, 2017, included 2.16.6 (There was a 2.18.0 release available then but for the first stable update, we kept it simple by not taking the brand new series.)
Debian 9.3 was released December 9, 2017 with no webkit2gtk update (2.18.3 was the current release at the time).
Debian 9.4 released March 10, 2018 (today!), includes 2.18.6 (up to date).
webkitgtk development follows the GNOME release schedule and produces new major updates every March and September. Only the current stable series is supported (although sometimes there can be a short overlap; 2.14.6 was released at the same time as 2.16.1). Distros need to adopt the new series every six months.
Like GNOME, webkitgtk uses even numbers for stable releases (2.16 is a stable series, 2.16.3 is a point release in that series, but 2.17.3 is a development release leading up to 2.18, the next stable series).
There are webkitgtk bugfix releases, approximately monthly. Debian stable point releases happen approximately every two or three months (the first point release was quicker).
In a few days, webkitgtk 2.20 will be released. Debian 9.5 will need to include 2.20.1 (or 2.20.2) to keep users on a supported release.
From five Debian 9 releases, we have been up to date in 2 or 3 of them (depending on how you count the 9.2 release).
Using a letter grade scale, I think I’d give Debian a B or B- so far. But this is significantly better than Debian 8 which offered no webkitgtk updates at all except through backports. In my grading, Debian could get a A- if we consistently updated webkitgtk in these point releases.
To get a full A, I think Debian would need to push the new webkitgtk updates (after a brief delay for regression testing) directly as security updates without waiting for point releases. Although that proposal has been rejected for Debian 9, I think it is reasonable for Debian 10 to use this model.
If you are a Debian Developer or Maintainer and would like to help with webkitgtk updates, please get in touch with Berto or me. I, um, actually don’t even run Debian (except briefly in virtual machines for testing), so I’d really like to turn over this responsibility to someone else in Debian.
I find the Repology webkitgtk tracker to be fascinating. For one thing, I find it humorous how the same package can have so many different names in different distros.