[nSLUG] Debian stable vs. testing

Stephen Gregory nslug at kernelpanic.ca
Sat Mar 11 15:12:26 AST 2006

In the past month or some a couple members of the list have had
problems with Debian/Testing (aka Etch). In Early February Richard
attempted a ungrade on a Sun and recently Bob has run into
difficulties. Debian/testing has several disadvantages and few
advantages. Testing should not be used.

Debian/Testing is unstable. Both Bob and Richard had issues with
X. This is to be expected. Moving from Xfree86 to Xorg is a major
upgrade. There will be other issues. Watch for kernel upgrades in
particular. Not only is Testing unstable but it does not recieve
security updates in a timely fashion. Before a package can enter
Testing it must enter Sid/Unstable and wait. I believe a package must
be in Sid/Unstable for a minimum of two weeks before moving to
Testing. It will wait longer if there are dependancy issues. This also
means that if a broken package does move into Testing it can stay
broken for at least two weeks.

Because of the potential for instability and the relatively slow
update process it is better to run Debian/Unstable. While there is
breakage in Unstable it is usually fixed quickly. Of course upgrading
from Sarge/stable to Sid/unstable will be full of breakage but it
should not be any worst then upgradeing from Sarge to Etch.

The advantage to Debian/Testing is access to newer versions of
software. Currently this is not a great advantage. Debian/Sarge
(stable) is less then a year old. The software is mostly up to
date. If a user does require more recent software then they could use
backports.org. This time last year there was a good reason to use
Debian/Testing. Debian/woody/Stable was terribly outdated. Next year
if Etch hasn't been released then maybe there will be a good reason to
switch to Testing.

At this time there is little advantage in running Debian/Testing. If
the bleeding edge is desired then use Debian/Unstable. Otherwise use
Debian/Sarge/Stable with backports.org if required.



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