Stable, testing, or unstable?

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Stable, testing, or unstable?

Postby xequence » 2005-10-22 19:46

Should I install stable (I know this one! sarge!), testing (etch, right), or unstable (sid, I think)?

Which one would I get the best download speeds for? (Downloading the ISOs)

I want it to be stable and not crash, but the latest greatest software is important for me.

I currently use ubuntu 5.10 ;)
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Postby Penguin Skinner » 2005-10-22 23:19

Oh, I think sid is definitely for you, as it is for me, and I-don't-know-how-many tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of other users around the world. Don't let the designation 'unstable' fool you.

I'm not aware of any 'official' Debian installer(s) for sid/unstable. Apparently some unofficial isos have been available before, but the links don't seem to be correct; see:

http://www.debian.org/CD/http-ftp/

You can install etch/testing from a netinstall, and then upgrade to sid. FWIW the sid/unstable repositories are in pretty good shape again, and dist-upgrades are working smoothly; with a reasonably fast internet connection, 1.5Mbps, the dist-upgrade to sid shouldn't add more than 35-45 minutes to the whole install process. Links:

http://www.debian.org/CD/netinst/

http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/

One alternative I will mention for your consideration is Kanotix. I run the 2005-03 release - as well as Debian, of course - and it is a very impressive distro.

And, yes, I have tried Ubuntu 5.10. I can't help but believe that you will be much more pleased with either 'pure' Debian sid or Kanotix.

Best of luck!
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Postby xequence » 2005-10-23 01:28

So, to do anything other then stable I need to netinstall?

Ill just get stable then use the unstable repos, that'll work right? I want to have the install CDs because I reinstall OSes reasonable often (Yes, I just got ubuntu 5.10 on october 11th and its the 22nd now. I love the smell of a fresh OS install in the morning!) and I dont always have the internet connected when I install. And the fact I already had CD2 on a CD-RW, so its one less CD I need to download.

I heard good things about kanotix, ill certainly look into it :)

Thanks for your help, I hope this works :)
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Postby Jeroen » 2005-10-24 19:02

If you're not experienced in Debian, you're better off running stable. I'd myself always advice people to run stable if they don't know what to run. Unstable tends to break from time to time, and as the saying goes, if it breaks, you get to keep both pieces (and are more or less on your own fixing it).

One of the biggest advantages of Debian is that you do not need to reinstall it often, or ever at all. There are plenty of examples of people having started off with Debian well over 10 years ago, and always having upgraded in the meantime, without ever reinstalling. I don't see why you would reinstall it unless you like really seriously messed up things beyond repair (unlikely if you're experienced, but possible if you're a bit less experienced with Debian). Debian is not like windows, that it keeps filling up your system beyond control and you've got no way to recover other than to reinstall.

In order to install Debian, you need to either netinstall or have a part of the full cd set (either only the first cd, or any number of the following cd's too -- only the first cd is required, the rest you can get off the internet if you don't have the cd -- and it's extremely rare that you'd ever want to install all software, that's like 10.000 programs.

testing & unstable are development versions, if they have a working installer at all (depends on the phase of the moon etc, though recently, it might work for some hardware from time to time again), it'll generally be a netinstall only. It's a development version after all that changes daily, it'd be a waste of time and disk to generate full cd sets for them.
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Postby Guest » 2006-01-20 12:52

Hello

I have downloaded a netinstall image CD, apparently stable according to the links. Into the readme files of the cdimage debian-31r1a-i386-netinst.iso appears the following words:

<<
Last-Minute Notes

* You should keep in mind that this is an unofficial CD of the current development version of the Debian system. This means that all sorts of bugs may be present anywhere in the system.
>>

This is a mistake of the readme? Himself says as his title:
Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 r1a "Sarge" - Official i386 Binary-1 CD
What i should believe?

Thank you in advance
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Postby Jeroen » 2006-01-20 12:54

It's a mistake in the README. It is indeed the real, official, latest image of Debian Sarge (stable).
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Postby Lavene » 2006-01-20 13:49

I have installed a few Debian systems and like to go with either testing or unstable, but as mentioned above the testing installer have a nasty habbit of crashing. The way I have found to work the best is to do an absolute minimal install of Sarge, then do the kernel stuff (if I want a different one), change the sources.list and dist-upgrade.

When that's done I'll apt-get the rest (X, KDE/GNOME etc). It's probably not the easiest way, but I have a rather small HD so I like the extra controll over what get's installed or not. And it's kinda fun :)

Oh, and just so it's clear; I have never needed to reinstall, just wanted to :wink:

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Postby towarzysz » 2006-01-27 04:54

I personally think that testing is a nice compromise between stability and new features/programs. I don't know about the testing installer, but installing stable, then changing the sources in sources.list to testing, running apt-get update and apt-get dist-upgrade worked for me. The only problem with testing right now is amarok and k3b are not currently available.
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Postby drdebian » 2006-01-27 05:56

I hope I'm not guilty of blasphemy for saying this, but I usually recommend Kubuntu to people wanting current desktop systems.

I've been using Debian stable on servers since 1998 and to be honest, there's nothing better for that purpose! In my experience, Debian stable is also a very capable desktop system for experienced users, but the casual user is sometimes overwhelmed by all the possibilities.
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Postby Lux » 2006-01-27 16:58

For some strange reason new Debian users always seem to choose Debian unstable, although it is generally recommended only for developers and advanced users who can fix things when they break.

When I first started using Debian (about 2 years ago), I quickly dist-upgraded to unstable. But when Sarge was released, I decided that it's less trouble to use testing with some packages from unstable.

But lately I've begun to think that maybe Debian stable would be the best "desktop" (or, rather, laptop) option for me. (I know that Sarge supports all my hardware.) Debian stable has a very stable base system plus lots of well-tested applications that should install without any dependency problems (which I occasionally get even in testing). And Debian stable gets security updates.

And then there's backports.org that seems to have xorg, ion3, openoffice 2.0 and firefox 1.5. That's practically all the newer stuff that I want. So it seems to me that with Debian stable plus some packages from backports.org I'd get a pretty similar system than my current Debian testing plus some packages from unstable. Except that the packages would generally have less bugs and dependency problems.

Well, the big DE's -- KDE & GNOME -- would be a bit older versions in Debian stable but that doesn't really bother me. And I wouldn't have to worry that the next daily upgrade might break something, possibly even make the system unusable at a time when I need it for some important task.

Just my thoughts on the subject. :)
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Postby Jeroen » 2006-01-27 17:48

Even though I'm an experienced Debian user, personally, I stick to stable on the desktop -- it does what I require of it, I don't want fiddle with my productive work environment when it's not needed. I'm probably going to ponder switching to testing though again once testing is in its last stages, and only getting some more stabalizing and fixing of bugs, but no more large changes.
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Postby Lavene » 2006-01-28 04:24

I think the reason for people choosing to go with unstable varies. I use stable for my mission critical box, but I like to mess about with stuff so I have a mixed testing/ unstable box for 'leisure'. It's fun to play around with the bleeding edge apps, fixing the occational breakage and solve various dependency problems.

I'm still learning, I love learning and I want to learn as much as possible about the inner workings of Linux. And it's no fun learning from a system that just works :)

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Postby Penguin Skinner » 2006-01-28 17:09

Lavene wrote:I'm still learning, I love learning and I want to learn as much as possible about the inner workings of Linux. And it's no fun learning from a system that just works :)

I think that's a very good point, Tina. Having used BSD and Slackware previously, when I decided to give Debian a serious look, I was after a fast learning curve. Sid/unstable fits the bill.

Having also maintained a testing install on my multi-boot machine, there's no question that sid is more prone to breaking. Fixing those problems has been very educational, but I have to agree with what others are saying generally: for a business/production environment, or for users who don't want so much maintenance, sid isn't the best choice.

But, in defense of Debian sid ... for me personally, it is the most satisfactory system I've used, both open source and commercial. Compared to FreeBSD, Slackware, or WinXP, I find it very easy to administer and maintain, even with its occasional hiccups.
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Postby dnusinow » 2006-01-28 19:34

I've been using unstable almost exclusively for years, but then I was willing and happy to learn and deal with it breaking. If you're not willing to do this, then I really don't recommend running unstable. Stable might not have the newest shiny stuff, but it doesn't change out from under you when you're trying to just mount your USB thumb drive to edit your presentation for the next day.

If you're going to run testing or unstable, it pays not to be cavalier with it. Run apt-listchanges and apt-listbugs and love them (we didn't always have them, and they make life a lot easier now). I'd highly recommend keeping a stable partition around for when you've got that paper that you need to write at 1am when your OO.o breaks mysteriously. Try and hold off on upgrades to things like gnome or kde which will be partially updated for some number of weeks while the devs get the whole set of the newest version in to the archive. Try also to be careful of packages like udev which tend to break periodically.
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