Stable's lower bugs advantage is disappearing each day

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Stable's lower bugs advantage is disappearing each day

Postby greggh » 2007-11-04 09:29

Compared to Testing, Stable really doesn't have that much less bugs and they look like they are converging even more...

http://bugs.debian.org/release-critical/

Image

Might as well run Testing over Stable since they both have a significant number of known bugs. And it seems the number of those bugs are getting closer to each other each day.
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Postby Lux » 2007-11-04 10:16

Debian Stable is not called "stable" because it has less bugs, it's called "stable" because it doesn't change much.

Debian Unstable is not called "unstable" because it has more bugs, it's called "unstable" because it changes often.

Both Testing/Lenny and Unstable/Sid are "rolling releases" that receive daily version upgrades for packages while Stable/Etch is a "stable release" because it only receives security updates but no major version upgrades.

Version upgrades usually fix some old bugs and, at the same time, they introduce new bugs. But there's some natural delay before these new bugs get discovered and reported to Debian's Bug Tracking System.

Anyway, it's likely that a great majority of the reported bugs don't affect your system in any way (unless you've installed all the available packages and you use all the CPU architectures that Debian supports). And installing security updates in your smoothly running Stable/Etch system is much less likely to break your system than installing major version upgrades in your smoothly running Testing/Lenny system.
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Postby greggh » 2007-11-04 10:29

Lux thanks for explaining that very clearly. I'm pretty new to Debian and didn't fully understand the differences between the different "branches" (if that's the right word). I think I have a bit better handle on it now.
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Postby actionM » 2007-11-04 12:17

Thats still a pretty cool chart. Good info.
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Postby CocoAUS » 2007-11-04 17:45

Lux, if Debian Stable is only "stable" in the sense that it doesn't get package updates, how about just installing Sid on your server and then never upgrading? There has to be SOME point in having an extremely slow, extremely old Stable release, doesn't there? Unless I'm missing something entirely. I always assumed Stable was just that--stable. Bugs sought out and beat the heck up until they submit and die. But if that's not the case...why is anyone bothering to use stable?
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Postby paulvandenberg » 2007-11-04 17:50

Businesses don't like rolling releases. They only want critical changes and they must be tested thoroughly. My guess is that they are the ones who use Stable more. Myself, I switched from Fedora, because the rolling releases and constant updates introduced new problems too often. I prefer Debian Stable. I can rely on it. Updates always involve an element of risk. Fewer updates, less risk.

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Postby Lavene » 2007-11-04 18:12

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Postby Lux » 2007-11-04 18:49

CocoAUS wrote:There has to be SOME point in having an extremely slow, extremely old Stable release, doesn't there?

Sure, there are specific standards for stable releases, which a random snapshot of Sid is unlikely to meet. More info here.

CocoAUS wrote:I always assumed Stable was just that--stable. [...] why is anyone bothering to use stable?

Stable means that things don't change much. If you use Debian stable, you'll know that your system has gone through the Debian release process where a lot of bugs have been fixed and a lot of work has been done to make the system to meet Debian's release standards. You'll also know that updates are unlikely to break your system.
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Postby CocoAUS » 2007-11-04 19:02

"a lot of bugs have been fixed"

Except isn't the point of this thread that, apparently, not many bugs HAVE been fixed between Testing and Stable? And if updates are what you're worried about, then simply don't update. If you need PHP4, and Debian's 3-year-old stable release doesn't have it, then why not just move to Testing and get what you need?

It just seems like Debian's big thing--being solid as a rock--isn't so true. Or if it is, it's only slightly more true for Stable than it is for Testing.
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Postby Lux » 2007-11-04 20:00

CocoAUS wrote:Except isn't the point of this thread that, apparently, not many bugs HAVE been fixed between Testing and Stable? And if updates are what you're worried about, then simply don't update.

I think you're missing something important here: it's been six months since Etch was released. All this time a lot of people have been using Etch and they've reported all the bugs they've found.

So let's take a snapshot of the current Debian testing (because it doesn't seem to have much more bugs than Etch) and let's release it and wait for six months to see if the number of bugs reported against our snapshot stays close to the number of bugs that are currently reported against Etch. I'll bet that after six months the number of bugs reported against our snapshot of Debian testing will be many times higher (supposing it gets as many users as Etch has had).

CocoAUS wrote:It just seems like Debian's big thing--being solid as a rock--isn't so true.

There will always be a profound incompatibility between lofty ideals and reality. Reality happens to be that every piece of software has bugs and a big distro, like Debian, includes a lot of software. This means that even Debian stable has bugs.

But that doesn't mean that all the hard work that has gone into making stable Debian releases would have been all in vain. You can compare Debian stable to other distros and you'll probably find out that Debian is, in fact, a pretty good distro. And it's stable. And "stable", according to a dictionary, means things like "static", "unchanging", "firm and dependable", and "resistant to change".
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Postby CocoAUS » 2007-11-04 20:43

Well Testing versus Stable aside, then, how do distros really differ from each other on stability grounds? If you take a distro like Arch (which supplies binaries without any modification whatsoever), and compare it to Debian (with its fixes and customizations), where does the stability difference really come into play? And, pretending something like Arch could be upgraded as safely as Debian Stable, would there really be a significant difference between installing bug fix/security updates in Debian Stable and simply installing the newest versions of wares in a distro like Arch?
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Postby Lux » 2007-11-04 21:28

Arch follows the "rolling release" scheme. If you don't upgrade packages all the time in Arch, you don't get security fixes. And if you upgrade packages all the time, those upgrades break things every now and then. Arch is pretty up-to-date, except their lyx package is old. :(

Slackware is like Arch because they avoid making distro-specific changes to packages. But Slackware is also like Debian stable because they have stable releases and they provide security updates for the stable releases. People say that Slackware is very stable (in both senses -- doesn't have many bugs and doesn't change often). But Slackware doesn't have many packages -- Slackware has been for a long time a "one man show".

Debian has lots of packages and lots of developers. A lot of effort goes into making the stable releases meet Debian's high quality standards. Stable and testing receive security updates, Sid gets security updates by packaging the latest versions of applications. Testing and unstable are "rolling releases", they get version upgrades for packages. Debian offers more choices than most other distros. Then again, some people don't like choices. ;)
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Postby plugwash » 2007-11-04 21:45

CocoAUS wrote:Lux, if Debian Stable is only "stable" in the sense that it doesn't get package updates, how about just installing Sid on your server and then never upgrading?

The problem with that is you cant easilly get security updates except by upgrading your whole system to the latest release. You will also have a system that is very different from everyone elses making it very difficult to get support with your problems. Finally unless you take a private mirror of the entire archive or use snapshot.debian.net (which has lost data in the past so I wouldn't rely on it) you will find it very hard to add any software to your system without upgrading core system stuff.

The point of a stable release is that debian tries and get rid of as many major bugs as possible (they will never get them all), makes a snapshot of that state and then make a commitment to provide security updates, support updates to the next major release, keep it availible and so on.

isn't the point of this thread that, apparently, not many bugs HAVE been fixed between Testing and Stable? And if updates are what you're worried about, then simply don't update.

I suspect a lot of the bugs shown as affecting stable by that graph are things like the PHP4 removal which isn't RC for etch but are detected as affecting it because the versions in etch and lenny were the same at the time they were reported.

Remeber there are three types of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.
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Postby esaym » 2007-11-04 22:58

but stable is stable :)
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Postby Lurker » 2007-11-07 00:24

I'm under the impression that the packages in stable are "stable" with each other.

What I mean is, if I install package X and you install X they work.
Package X in testing might break package Q or having L will break X.
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