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Stacks have been the unit of release for rosbuild. With catkin, we can release individual packages so stacks are not needed anymore as such.

However in Groovy, some ROS packages are still build with rosbuild, not catkin, and are thus still in stacks. There will be some stacks in future releases as well, until all packages have been migrated to catkin.

Differences are listed in the ROS Groovy release notes, and other articles on the web: http://robots.net/article/3506.html