Newcomer and a question

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Newcomer and a question

Postby the_poet » 2008-11-13 23:54

Hi, Debian community, I'm a new "Debianer". I've been using Ubuntu 8.04 for a couple of weeks (my first time ever with a Linux distribution), but I've decided I want to try Debian (being a Computer Engineering student, I'd like to learn the Linux world's fundamentals with a "strong" distribution). I installed the stable release 2 days ago but, from what I've read somewhere on the net, the stable one is well suited for servers, because of its extreme stability, while for a desktop use (which is my case), it's recommended to use the testing version. Could you try to explain me in what the two versions differ and which one you would suggest for a desktop use? Thank you all in advance.

:wink:
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Postby BioTube » 2008-11-14 00:29

Debian is a beast in four parts:

Experimental: Where SVN-pulls and other works in progress go. Packages in here might be extremely dangerous.

Unstable(permantly "Sid): When a new version of a package(or a new package all together) gets uploaded, it usually goes here. Sid machines can be highly volatile(giving birth to the saying "If it breaks, you get to keep both halves"), although it's calmed down in recent years thanks to experimental.

Testing(currently "Lenny", about to be "Squeeze"): After a while, a package in Sid with no really bad bugs gets moved here(the exact time depends on the urgency of the update). For this reason, it's much more stable than Sid. Since packages are updately fairly quickly, it's recommended for desktop users(don't let the name fool you - testing can be more stable than some distros'(especially the-one-that-cannot-be-named) releases).

Stable(currently "Etch", soon to be "Lenny"): Every once in a blue moon, the Debian release team puts testing in what's know as "The Big Freeze". During this time, nothing but bugfixes may be moved to testing. Once all release-critical(RC) bugs are gone, testing becomes stable and a new testing branch is opened. Since only bugfixes are allowed in stable, the packages tend to get dated rapidly.

Oldstable(currently "Sarge", soon to be "etch"): Where stable goes when it gets replaced. oldstable is supported for a year after the next release.

Lenny's currently in The Big Freeze, so it's fairly safe to move even servers to.
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Re: Newcomer and a question

Postby Issyer » 2008-11-14 02:08

the_poet wrote:Hi, Debian community, I'm a new "Debianer". I've been using Ubuntu 8.04 for a couple of weeks (my first time ever with a Linux distribution), but I've decided I want to try Debian (being a Computer Engineering student, I'd like to learn the Linux world's fundamentals with a "strong" distribution). I installed the stable release 2 days ago but, from what I've read somewhere on the net, the stable one is well suited for servers, because of its extreme stability, while for a desktop use (which is my case), it's recommended to use the testing version. Could you try to explain me in what the two versions differ and which one you would suggest for a desktop use? Thank you all in advance.

:wink:


It differes because servers don't need gui while on Stable all gui applications are obsolete (too old). Thus, testing is more suitable for desktop users. Nevertheless, new Mandriva 2009 which I installed yesterday, spits out warnings regarding liblade library for the application I am writing on debian testing. They have changed API. Thus, debian testing is not quite modern and new, though still testing.
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Postby MeanDean » 2008-11-14 11:52

BioTube wrote:Debian is a beast in four parts:

nice summary, wouldn't that be five parts though :lol:
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Postby anxious » 2008-11-14 14:03

Since you are 2 weeks old, so to speak, I would say install Stable first and do a lot of reading about how Debian works. When you feel more comfortable using Debian and you understand package management, directory structure, permissions and Linux in general, then it may be time to try out Testing or Testing/Sid. I run Testing/Sid myself, but I can usually figure out how to fix something if it breaks by searching the forum or using Google. Debian is not difficult, but you are going to get out of it what you put into it.
Good luck.
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Postby BioTube » 2008-11-14 22:22

MeanDean wrote:
BioTube wrote:Debian is a beast in four parts:

nice summary, wouldn't that be five parts though :lol:
oldstable was an afterthough.
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Postby the_poet » 2008-11-15 10:39

Thank you all, your answers have been very clear. As I've already said, I've installed the stable version, whose packages seem to be very outdated... I've learned to add new repos to sources.list (in particular I've added the Debian's unstable branch repo) and, when trying to update Iceweasel to version 3.0.3 using Synaptic, I'm prompted with a list of over 400 packages, some to be removed, some to be installed and some to be upgraded, with a total amount of about 400 MB to be downloaded! The list includes not just libraries but even software which has nothing to do with Iceweasel. For just one new software needed, is doing all that necessary?! Is that common practice in Debian?
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Postby bugsbunny » 2008-11-15 12:48

Well iceweasel has as one of it's dependencies libc6 (>= 2.7-1). libc6 is one of the core packages for the entire system. When you update that that forces a lot of other packages to also need to update. It's NOT a good idea to try and mix packages from unstable/testing with stable.

It is OK to mix testing with unstable. So you should either stay with etch (you could possibly try downloading the source for iceweasel and compiling it if you want v3.x, but that may require you to compile additional packages, depending on dependencies) or you should upgrade your entire system to either testing or unstable (not too much difference between them at the moment due to the "Big Freeze". But once Lenny becomes "stable" that will change).

At least for the moment I recommend you upgrade to lenny. It'll be going stable very soon anyways. And use lenny, specifically, rather than testing, in your sources.list. Then, once lenny goes stable, you can decide if you want to run testing or stick with lenny for a while. To upgrade, after changing sources, try:

aptitude clean
aptitude update
aptitude install aptitude
aptitude safe-upgrade
aptitude full-upgrade

(Many people skip the safe-upgrade part. I like to do it in sequence, less chances of breakage IMO. Safe-upgrade only installs packages that don't require removal of other packages or installation of new packages).

That will (hopefully) leave you running lenny.

You should imagine a firm divide between stable and the other versions. Due to the way everything works that firm line doesn't exist between the testing/unstable and even, at least to some extent, experimental versions. Packages are constantly moving from unstable to testing. Especially if you run pure unstable, although occasionally in testing as well, there will be package breakage at times until dependencies catch up. As long as you're aware of that and can deal with it when it occurs you can consider running testing/sid in the future (after lenny goes stable).
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Postby the_poet » 2008-11-15 19:24

Thanks for your reply. Regarding dependencies... what a mess! I'm going mad with the requirements applications have to be installed in Debian stable/Etch. Today I've tried to install a couple of things (including Code::Blocks), but dependencies are quite hard to resolve manually (and even automatically, I've met the same errors using apt-get and Synaptics). There has been even a funny circumstance where a certain package X required package Y to be installed, but, when trying to install Y, it asked for... package X!!! :) May I hope to solve all this upgrading Debian to testing/Lenny? From what I've understood, some of the problems I've met today could be due to the old package versions of Etch. I really like Debian's stability and I want to get into Linux's world with an important distro as Debian is, but I hope installing new applications is not so time-eating everytime because of dependency solving.
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Postby rickh » 2008-11-15 19:45

There has been even a funny circumstance where a certain package X required package Y to be installed, but, when trying to install Y, it asked for... package X!!!

Something is dreadfully wrong. That does not happen with a correctly configured system. Post your /etc/apt/sources.list file.
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Postby bugsbunny » 2008-11-15 20:34

And specify what packages are giving you trouble, and how you're trying to install them. I'm curious about that X->Y->X one.

Codeblocks is definitely another one that has dependencies that live in Lenny (they should have specified that - their bad). So, based on what I've heard so far, you definitely should be upgrading (or clean installing - which might be simpler (or at least cleaner) depending on where you are in the process). If you're just starting up this system and don't have anything you need to save on it, yet, I'd just wipe it and install Lenny.

http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/
I'd suggest a netinstall using the lenny RC1 release of the installer (note that that's RC1 of the installer, not of Lenny itself). It's the top set pf links. Business card install works as well.

Both of those install over the Net, so the package downloads may take a while.
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Postby Mr B » 2008-11-15 20:35

Here's my two penneth, for what it's worth:-

Start again with a fresh install of Lenny - which for desk top use will be quite stable enough and give you newer versions of the stuff you are after.

For the price of a blank CD you have nothing to loose, evrything to gain and a much smoother start with Debian. Much easier than trying to untangle the mess you are in now, I would think...

EDIT - you beat me to it Bugsbunny :D :D
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Postby the_poet » 2008-11-18 14:20

Thank you for answering! As you reasonably suggested, I went with a fresh install of lenny. I like it a lot: I installed every application I wanted and everything went just fine. Having a constantly updated system (though this may not be true for a server) has no equivalent! Unfortunately a problem is annoying me. Since the installation, everytime I boot, I get this message about the DVD-RW drive: "hdc: timeout waiting for DMA", followed by "hdc: drive not ready for command" repeated for 5 times. It's very strange indeed, since I didn't get this in etch and, anyway, my DVD-RW drive still works great. Have you ever experienced this?
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Postby plugwash » 2008-11-18 18:10

BioTube wrote:Oldstable(currently "Sarge", soon to be "etch"): Where stable goes when it gets replaced. oldstable is supported for a year after the next release.

As is quite common in the run up to a release there is no oldstable at the moment. Sarge has been moved to the archive.
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Postby bugsbunny » 2008-12-01 13:59

the_poet wrote:Thank you for answering! As you reasonably suggested, I went with a fresh install of lenny. I like it a lot: I installed every application I wanted and everything went just fine. Having a constantly updated system (though this may not be true for a server) has no equivalent! Unfortunately a problem is annoying me. Since the installation, everytime I boot, I get this message about the DVD-RW drive: "hdc: timeout waiting for DMA", followed by "hdc: drive not ready for command" repeated for 5 times. It's very strange indeed, since I didn't get this in etch and, anyway, my DVD-RW drive still works great. Have you ever experienced this?


What's the output of:
# hdparm /dev/hdc

If it has "using-dma = 1 (on)" as part of the output try this:

edit /etc/hdparm.conf
add the following to the end:
Code: Select all
/dev/hdc {
   dma = off
}


reboot and see if the delay is gone

You should also try using /dev/cdrom instead of /dev/hdc (assuming that the first way worked). That way if the cdrom changes it's designation for any reason (adding/removing hard disks for example) it would still point to the correct device. But try the first method first - that should definitely work. Or you can try using /dev/cdrom first and if that doesn't work use the /dev/hdc designation.
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