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Old 11-07-2005, 01:06 PM   #1
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Running a mixed system: Bad? How bad?

I'm still fairly new to Linux and Debian, and I'm wondering if I've headed off down a path that might be problematic later.

I tried many many times to install a SID netinst, but failed. Usually it was some short term bug in the installer (I think). One thing would get fixed, but then the next problem would crop up.

So I thought, OK, I don't need the latest and greatest, let's use stable (Sarge 3.1r0a). I had problems there with the 2.6.8 kernel and my nForce3 SATA. Found out I needed at least the 2.6.10 kernel. I also had problems with Sarge not working with my onboard ethernet. Anyway, to cut this saga short, what I have now is:

Sarge 3.1r0a running a 2.6.12-1-686 kernel that I got from SID (binary), with the kernel sources also downloaded from SID, and gcc 4.0.2-1 also downloaded from SID. I needed the newer gcc to compile the nVidia drivers (7676) that I downloaded from nVidia's website. I cannot say for sure that gcc 4.0.2-1 is the exact compiler that was used to compile the kernel I'm running ... only that I downloaded the kernel from SID and then downloaded the compiler from SID two or three days after that. My assumption is that the compiler and kernel match.

Now, everything else I've installed besides the kernel, kernel source, and compiler has come from the stable branch. I also downloaded the *source* for libfreetype from stable, and recompiled and restalled that after setting the ...BYTECODE_INTERPRETER flag. I plan to download and compile additional things (mostly to support a future MythTV installation).

My question is, just how "mixed" am I, and am I heading for trouble in the future? My system *appears* to be running very smoothly at the moment. Thanks!
Old 11-07-2005, 02:30 PM   #2
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Registered: Apr 2005
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While you think about what you doing - your system will work perfectly. This is simple rule. Some time ago, I have used old woody (Debian) for one year, with about 100 "broken" packages (including very important packages). But because I did "broke" them smartly, everything worked great.

You may ask, why I did used old distribution instead simply upgrading to new one, and wasted big amount of time for installation of every package (note, apt-get will not work with broken packages - I need do EVERYTHING manually)? This is simple: I have only GPRS connection to the Internet (I'm living in village and there is no other choices), and must pay about $0.22 for 1 MB. And there is only two choices: use only old packages or "broke" many packages, trying to install something new using my very limited traffic. But, after many months, fortunatally, I have found someone who helped to download me new distribution. So, currently I'm using i386 sarge, and will upgrade to amd64 etch soon (because not so long ago I changed my platform from old i686 to new amd64).

So, as you can see, even with big number of broken "packages" you may have working (and absolutely stable) system. But you talking simply about "mixing" packages from different distributions. This is much safer, and have no disadvantages (like not workable apt-get and many headaches with many installations of new packages), so you shouldn't have any problem because of "mixing".
Old 11-09-2005, 09:58 AM   #3
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You should read this:

It describes how to keep a mixed system properly. You need to create/edit /etc/apt/preferences to tell apt how to handle upgrading packages from mixed repositories.
Old 11-09-2005, 10:27 AM   #4
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Thanks for the link. That document has about everything you would ever want to know about apt.

So far, I think I'm pretty safe on what I've done. I did the brute force route. Edited the /etc/apt/sources.list file directly. Normally it points to stable and only stable. When I downloaded the kernel and compiler from sid, I first commented out all the lines pointing to stable and replaced them with their equivalents pointing to unstable. Did an apt-get update then downloaded the specific packages I wanted. Then reversed the manual edit and apt-get update'ed again.

I think I can now go back, review that link you sent, and reconfigure things "the right way (TM)" for future downloads so, say, a security update for gcc from stable does not get erroneously applied to the gcc files I downloaded from sid. I believe that's one of the problems that could be encountered with a mixed system Thanks!
Old 11-09-2005, 01:21 PM   #5
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: France, Provence
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Do you have apt-listbugs installed ?
This little utility can save you from a lot of pain, since it automatically
warns you about critical or grave bugs and gives you the choice to (not)
install a suspect program. Never had any problems with mixed sources
thanks to it, since I installed it right after installing the OS.
Old 11-09-2005, 01:54 PM   #6
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Distribution: Debian, Ubuntu, LinuxMint, Slackware, SysrescueCD, Raspbian
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Original Poster
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Originally posted by samael26
Do you have apt-listbugs installed ?
Not at the moment, but after reading about it I'll install it as soon as I get home this evening. Will wonders never cease! What a great idea.


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