testing vs. backports

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testing vs. backports

Postby jsmidt » 2006-01-21 00:17

How stable are backports? How do they fai vs. teting. Would it be smarter to run testing or stable with backports?
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Postby startx » 2006-01-28 10:26

that depends for what purpose you run the box.

most backports are pretty stable, at least even if there are bugs in the applications, they wont crash basic functions of the system.

backports are definitely recommended if you need special or newer funtions of tools or libraries on critical system such as servers (althought you might compile packages on your own in that case anyway).

if you are new to linux/debian you might use backports to get newesr versions of gnome or kde as well, they are normaly very stable.

testing means that the system as a whole might be buggy. i run testing on my desktop computeres normally and after doing so some years i can handle most of the difficulties. however, i would never run testing on a server. testing becomes "more and more stable" the closer a new release is ahead and normally very unstable in the months after a stable relaese is done because that's the time when experimentating starts.
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Postby Lux » 2006-01-28 13:34

Backports are built by Debian devs so they should be mostly trustworthy but they are nevertheless *unofficial* packages (not part of the official Debian distribution). The backports.org site gives the following warning:
If you find a bug in one of these packages, be carefully when using the official Debian bugtracking system. Some maintainers don't like it when bugs are reported against unofficial packages. I suggest you to contact the person who has build the backport. Check changelog.Debian.gz to find out who is responsible for a backport.

Bugs found in testing can be reported normally using the official Debian Bug Tracking System.

So it's a tradeoff -- with stable+backports you get a secure, stable and well-tested system with some possibly broken newer apps from backports. With testing/unstable you get a newer system but you are tracking a constantly changing development branch that can potentially introduce system-wide problems. The maintainer of the backports.org site, Norbert Tretkowski, suggests that you shouldn't upgrade all the applications that have a newer backport version available, only some select apps that you really want to upgrade.
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