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It's hilarious how people blame swaret for so much. In a nutshell it just downloads a package, runs removepkg on the old one, and installpkg on the new one. Upgrading by hand isn't any safer, the problem comes when people upgrade something they shouldn't be upgrading. You can manually break a computer as easily as you can automatically do it, heh.
The fact that Pat doesn't "support" it means nothing, so that can't really be used as a negative against swaret. Pat hardly ever supports anything slack-based that he didn't make. Tons of people use Dropline GNOME, and he won't even consider simply putting the installer in /extras (which kind of irks me, considering how hard those people work to keep GNOME current and functional, but that's a different discussion). I love Slackware and think Pat does an excellent job, but I certainly have come to learn that hearing he doesn't like something is no reason to think of it as bad.
I think your first paragraph sort of misses the point. If you are doing it by hand that probably means you read the changelog. Then you are more likely to have read the kbd note, that some package should be removed, another is a new package that needs to be installed. Whereas if you run swaret, that isn't necessarily the case. I agree that swaret/slapt-get can both work for someone if they use it properly.
Pat did put swaret in extra for awhile, but the developer at that time was such a loose cannon that he did not want to be associated with him, IIRC. As to dropline, as long as they include PAM it seems clear that Pat will avoid being seen as sanctioning them as part of the distro or any sort of approval.
I do agree with you to some extent. Just because Pat doesn't include something that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it, its your box. I think in some situations though you might want to consider why he doesn't include it.
No, I understand the point that if you're updating by hand, then you probably know why you're updating. My comment was more or less directed at all the negative opinions about swaret "breaking" people's computers, or being a faulty piece of software. It's basically just a frontend script for normal Slackware package management. Now, I don't go downloading scripts that other people wrote that do things that I don't fully understand, because chances are running random scripts without knowing what I'm doing is going to break something. I don't know why that same logic doesn't apply to swaret (and other Slackware package apps). Instead, people just say they're shitty or "dangerous".
As for the developer being a "loose cannon", I'm not really sure if that applies to his personality, or his coding. Though, the program hasn't changed much in the distant past versions. Swaret basically functions like it always has, so it seems to be more than likely a personality thing. Once again, program gets a bad rep because Pat doesn't "support" it and removed it, etc..etc. For all we know, he didn't like the guy's IRC nick and decided to take it out of /extra (which would be perfectly all right, it's his distro), and now tons of people warn others not to use it because Pat doesn't approve.
Same thing for Dropline, except much more of a shame, IMO. Pat doesn't like PAM. Well, you know, I don't much like it in it's current state, either. However, PAM, HAL, and the 2.6 series kernel are all around to stay, and I see no reason that they all won't achieve the level of stability and solid function that we see in the well-aged 2.4 series and relative utilities. And you know what is going to help that come along? Projects like Dropline GNOME, that work to incorporate those features to a broad range of people willing to test them, thereby giving feedback and helping them improve. I wish they'd get a little love for doing all that hard work. Instead, they get treated like they have some kind of disease, or are somehow beneath other slackers.
Now, I don't believe any of those things should be in normal, run-of-the-mill Slackware. I think it should contain only the tried-and-true. But that's what an /extra directory and a little disclaimer is for.