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Keeping a Debian box up-to-date

stable, testing, or unstable



10:32 am on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I decided to switch to Debian 3.0r0 from Slackware 8.1, I used to compile most of my software. I was using KDE 3.0.1 and it seems funny that the latest stable Debian distro still has KDE 2.2.2.

What's your experience with the testing and unstable versions, which one should I stick to? I'll probably use the latest stable of the other packages but I'm using the KMail client and the version shipped with 2.2.2 is practically unusable for me (doesn't support SMTP authentication and I don't want to setup my own SMTP server).


3:21 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I've been on 'testing' for a couple years, and 'unstable' for a couple days. I'll probably fall back to 'testing' at some point by changing my pin back to 'testing' and letting it catch up with me. I'd tend to reccomend 'testing' for most people. My primary server is on 'stable' and it's going to stay there until a new 'stable' release comes out.

For a desktop system, I would reccomend that you put both testing and unstable in your sources.list and use a pin in your apt prefferences to make apt default to 'testing'. Once you've done that, you will often have two versions of a given software package available, and apt will choose the one from 'testing' by default. However, if you have a problem with such a package, you can easily use aptitude (or your favorite package management front-end) to upgrade just the one program you're having trouble with.

The advantage of this dual approach is that most of the time, stuff doesn't get into testing unless it's pretty much usable. When it slips by anyway, there's usually an updated version already in 'unstable' to fix the problem, but it might not trickle into 'testing' for a week or more. By having both available in your sources.list, you can try out the newer packages when you want to, without being subject to quite as much rockiness as if you were running a pure 'unstable' system.


6:05 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Sorry if this sounds like a stupid question but I couldn't get updates from ftp://security.debian.org and I definitely prefer using FPT than HTTP. Is there anything I can do, and does the apt-get tool rely on security.debian.org being on top of the sources.list? I also have a mirror FTP server and I was wondering why apt-setup appended the FTP servers instead of inserting them at the top.


12:27 am on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My entry in sources.list for security updates to stable is:
deb ftp://security.debian.org/debian-security stable/updates main

Order of entries in sources.list is not meaningless, but close to it. If a package is available in the same version from two different places and that version is the ones selected for installation, then it will be fetched from the source that appears first in the list. Not really an issue, since security patches will have a slightly altered version number.

I can't say I've ever use apt-setup, but presumably they got appended because it's easier to add to the end of a file than to the beginning or middle.


7:55 am on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member littleman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I am still a relative newcomer to Debian, so my input will be more shallow but `I have been using 'unstable' from the start without any real problems. The biggest headache I've had so far was dealing with a few GNOME2 and GNOME1 conflicts.

I have KDE 3.0.3 from:
deb [kde.us.themoes.org...] ./
It installed very well, though I have to say that I don't use it enough to know if it is buggy or not.

With Debian, you can't get hung up on the labels, 'stable' means rock solid and boring. A great server platform. Most sensible folks use 'testing', but I have had very little problems with 'unstable' + plus some 'experimental' packages.


9:12 am on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks Littleman and Dingman.

>My entry in sources.list for security updates to stable is:
deb ftp://security.debian.org/debian-security stable/updates main

...and I tried
deb ftp://security.debian.org/ stable/updates main

simple replace of http with ftp ;-)


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