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Old 02-11-2005, 04:20 PM   #1
R00ts
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Just how unstable is unstable???


I'm preparing for a new PC build soon, and I'm trying to consider my options for Linux. I've been using sarge since about June 2004, and I'm wondering if I should consider something fresh. I like sarge, but sometimes it's mildly annoying/frustrating not having the most up-to-date packages (I particularly want to start using X-org). I'm also considering 'forking' over to Ubuntu because I've heard it's like Debian, but is much more active in it's releases. And then there's also the issue that sarge is supposed to go stable sometime this year.....I'm just having a difficult time making up my mind. I don't really want to leave Debian because I've fallen in love with apt-get and Synaptic, but I need something refreshing.


So yeah, basically what I really want to ask is "how unstable is unstable"? Since sarge is being made stable soon, does that mean that unstable is pretty stable right now? (There's a nice oxymoron for you). I'm looking for guidance from those who have "been there, done that".

***************************************************
PS: For those interested here's the system I'm building

CPU
AMD Athlon 64 3500+, Socket 939, 512KB L2 Cache 64-bit Processor - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproduc...ion=19-103-460

Motherboard
MSI "K8N Neo2 Platinum" NVIDIA nForce3 ULTRA Chipset Motherboard For AMD Socket 939 CPU -RETAIL
http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproduc...ion=13-130-468

RAM
Using two 512MB PC3200 chips from my existing PC

Case
CODENGEN Black ATX Mid Tower Case With Side Window, Model "E-6097-CA-W/O" -RETAIL
http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproduc...ion=11-182-563

Hard drive
Maxtor DiamondMax 10 200GB 7200RPM P-ATA/133 Hard Drive, Model 6B200P0, OEM Drive Only
http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproduc...ion=22-140-151
(+ a 120GB Seagate drive from my current PC)

Video Card
MSI nVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT Video Card, 256MB GDDR3, 256-Bit, DVI/TV-Out, 8X AGP, Model "6800GT-TD256" -RETAIL
http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproduc...ion=14-127-140

DVD/CD Drive
Never bought a burner before, but realized it will be useful to have around for burning my own Linux CDs. Haven't decided on one yet, suggestions?

PSU
Using a 450W PSU in my existing system
 
Old 02-11-2005, 04:24 PM   #2
darkleaf
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Never had anything bad happen with unstable. Experimental was a bit different though but unstable is really good IMO. Have some packages that don't work now because another package isn't updated yet but nothing that's completely broken or something.
 
Old 02-11-2005, 04:32 PM   #3
IsaacKuo
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Is "unstable" any more or less "stable" because Sarge is going to go stable? No. The "stable" in Debian stable/unstable doesn't refer to how reliable the software is. It refers to how often the repositories change. In "stable", packages aren't updated at all unless really necessary (i.e. critical bugs or security holes). In "unstable", packages are updated all the time so those who are really daring can have the joys of breaking their systems at any time.

The transition of Sarge from testing to stable does mean that Debian testing is going to be updated less and less until the final transition takes place. I doubt this has any effect on Debian unstable, though.

I've had unhappy experiences updating Debian unstable...so I can't wait for Sarge to go stable. When that happens, there will be two happy effects:

1. I can finally use Debian stable and recommend it to my friends, thanks to Sarge's installer. That means no more seeing Kaffeine pop up with yet another different interface just because I'm installing onto a new machine...

and

2. Debian testing will get moving forward again.

So...you want something fresh and different? Go to Knoppix.net and check out the humongous list of Knoppix variants! There's all sorts of interesting things, like Quantian (cluster computing with a scientific slant) and Overclockix and Mepis and GamesKnoppix and so on...
 
Old 02-11-2005, 04:43 PM   #4
R00ts
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Hmm I see. What if I wanted to install sid now, and then later (once sarge goes stable and we have a new testing) I want to "downgrade" to testing?
 
Old 02-11-2005, 09:31 PM   #5
h2gofast
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I've been running sid for awhile now and have never had the the whole system break (not that it can't happen), rather it was one or two applications that got borked for a few days until an upgrade fixed the issue. Run sid for awhile and you'll see. If you want to try debian on the bleeding edge, I suggest taking a look at ubuntu. While it's a new project it's been getting lots of positive attention.
 
Old 02-12-2005, 02:25 AM   #6
darkleaf
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Quote:
Originally posted by R00ts
Hmm I see. What if I wanted to install sid now, and then later (once sarge goes stable and we have a new testing) I want to "downgrade" to testing?
That's possible. Change your apt preferences file to set everything to testing and it'll downgrade everything.
 
Old 02-12-2005, 12:05 PM   #7
R00ts
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I think I've heard of people running sarge/testing but having their package lists pointing to the unstable packages. How does that work? Is it essentially the same as running unstable even though technically you're running testing?
 
Old 02-12-2005, 12:38 PM   #8
makuyl
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What they might mean is that with the official debian installers you get stable or testing depending on the installer. If you want unstable you can install sarge and do a apt-get dist-upgrade to unstable with unstable set in /etc/apt/apt.conf. You can get unstable directly with umm, say Kanotix which I've been running for a year now and haven't had much problems with it. Not sure, but IsaacKuo's bad experiences with unstable might have been with knoppix which is a mix of testing, unstable and IIRC stable. That together with modified initscritps makes dist-upgrading knoppix an experience
For a normal use desktop unstable is just fine and you get the newest software, for a server choose stable. Testing I suppose is mainly for normal use and doesn't give you occasional headaches like unstable. But in my limited experience the minor glitches in unstable are easy to fix or the problems go away in a day or two after the package maintainers iron out the bugs.
 
Old 02-12-2005, 01:35 PM   #9
pnijjar
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Quote:
Originally posted by R00ts
I think I've heard of people running sarge/testing but having their package lists pointing to the unstable packages. How does that work? Is it essentially the same as running unstable even though technically you're running testing?
This is the same process described above. You add BOTH testing and unstable sources to your sources.list, and then edit apt.conf to prefer testing. Then by default the packages you install will come from testing, but you have the ability to install packages (and their dependencies) from unstable as well.

I personally lean against running unstable. Unless you are comfortable fixing your system when a bad upgrade breaks everything, you should stick with testing.

In your case, you won't get what you want, since X.org is not available in unstable (and likely will not be until Sarge is released, whenever that may be). If you desperately want x.org now you probably want to switch to Ubuntu (which, for some reason, does have X.org packaged, but maybe only for its upcoming release).
 
  


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