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Old 04-23-2005, 11:25 AM   #1
Registered: Apr 2002
Location: Albuquerque, NM USA
Distribution: Slackware, Ubuntu, Debian, Maemo
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Should Debian even bother doing "stables"?

I really love my Debian systems. It seems to be the only open source OS that I don't have to totally re-install every year or so to keep it up to date *and* stable.

I run "Sid", but then I don't have any really mission critical servers. I've had fantastic (but not perfect) luck with it, and think "Sid" is great considering the task it performs.

What I don't understand is the painful hows and whys of producing "stable". It seems to me that by the time they finally get "stable" released, it is so obsolete that I wonder if people actually use it?

I was wondering if it would make more sense for the Debian volunteers to just concentrate on "unstable" and try to make it the best that it can be, then leave it up to all those commercial Debian-based distributions (Ubuntu, Libranet, Xandros, Linspire, etc.) to take snapshots of it whenever they feel fit, do their own audits and testing then release their idea of a "stable" version of Debian. "Stabilizing" code can't be very much fun for volunteers anyway, so why not let them simply get things good enough for themselves in "unstable" then let paid programmers working for the other companies deal with mundane security audits and such. This model would also assume a good working relationship between Debian and the commercial distributors so that the work would get shared back to Debian, even it it was delayed a little so the originator of the bug fixes would typically get a first jump onto the marketplace with their fixes.

Of course I'm just to totally outside observer and a mere Debian user, so feel free to flame me down about how this would never work.
Old 04-23-2005, 11:36 AM   #2
Registered: Mar 2004
Location: Netherlands
Distribution: Debian
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Well, I do run a server. Stable saves me a lot of work maintaining the machine. For my desktop I will keep running Sarge mixed with some unstable packages. As far as dependencies let me I will keep a stable base system and use some less stable frontend software. I f necessary I will compile them myself for Sarge.

This requires more than average knowledge, but it isn't that difficult and again, saves me the trouble of keeping an eye on new ways of configuring packages, like the previous changes that occured with iptables and pppoe.
Old 04-23-2005, 03:31 PM   #3
Registered: Sep 2003
Distribution: Debian
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Well, in addition to home/desktop users there are lots of organizations and other "serious" users ( ) who'd probably hate to see "stable" go..
Old 04-23-2005, 03:54 PM   #4
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: France, Provence
Distribution: Debian
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Originally posted by PMorph
Well, in addition to home/desktop users there are lots of organizations and other "serious" users ( ) who'd probably hate to see "stable" go..
I agree. Some colleges and other "serious" people need a stable distro. I think only Debian can provide this quality. It is for that stability

the City of Munich (Germany) has chosen to make the switch from you-know-who to Debian (14000 desktops..) In France Mandriva

will provide their system to the technical schools network in the months to come.
Old 04-23-2005, 06:48 PM   #5
Registered: Apr 2002
Location: Albuquerque, NM USA
Distribution: Slackware, Ubuntu, Debian, Maemo
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I guess if by "stable" you mean something that isn't distributed by a company that will yank the product when their wildest dreams of making fortunes aren't realized or in the extreme case they turn around and start suing their customers, I see your point. I forgot that this is another major advantage to Debian.

I also see why a large organization might want a distribution that never changes (except for critical security problems), even if that means bug fixes or enhancements.

It is just that it seems like such a struggle for Debian to produce a new "stable", but I guess they do better than Microsoft in a lot of areas of releasing a new OS.

PS: "Unstable" is actually very stable! I think it is much more stable than something like Mandrake/Mandriva as far as stuff that works right and doesn't blow up sometimes, but then Mandriva is quite "bleeding edge" and fancy.
Old 04-23-2005, 09:43 PM   #6
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: 1st hop-NYC/NewJersey shore,north....2nd hop-upstate....3rd hop-texas...4th hop-southdakota(sturgis)...5th hop-san diego.....6th hop-atlantic ocean! Final hop-resting in dreamland dreamwalking and meeting new people from past' night.
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I like the system the way it is.Sure I'd like to see things move along faster but I'm content with "sid" for my workstations and some servers.
I also understand why business' like stable the way it is but maybe things can go a tad faster for them in the future as the debian team is contemplateing now.
Changes will come I just hope Debian's stable doesnt wither away to just a "common" stable release.
Agreed that sid is stable for the home user.People misconstrude unstable with failures and breakage...bah!
Old 04-23-2005, 10:14 PM   #7
Senior Member
Registered: May 2004
Location: Albuquerque, NM USA
Distribution: Debian-Lenny/Sid 32/64 Desktop: Generic AMD64-EVGA 680i Laptop: Generic Intel SIS-AC97
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I'm about to install Linux on a Notebook ... Been using Fedora Core on my desktop since it started with no problems. (Translate: Works like a dream, as far as I'm concerned.) Don't have any super critical apps ... Keep my critical data backed up.

Point is, I've been considering installing Debian on a Notebook (Dual boot with XP) primarily to avoid the every 3 or 4 month releases. Am I likely to be disappointed with the difficulty in keeping new apps up to date ... Do a lot of audio editing ... dabble in video. Otherwise primarily office apps, and Postgresql based databases.

Any thoughts?
Old 04-24-2005, 06:08 AM   #8
Registered: Dec 2002
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 154

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Am I likely to be disappointed with the difficulty in keeping new apps up to date ...
Keeping packages up to date is debians strong point. It is simple as apt-get update, apt-get upgrade. And you're done. Dependencies are automatically reconciled.
Why anyone would want to do it any other way is beyond me, but there are reasons for it. I run unstable on my desktop and laptop, which is an old pentium II toughbook, and Knock on Wood, haven't had a problem. I run fluxbox on both, so I can't report on other window managers.
Old 04-24-2005, 09:54 AM   #9
Senior Member
Registered: Jan 2003
Location: Devon, UK
Distribution: Debian Etc/kernel 2.6.18-4K7
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I also believe that the stable branch is essential. I use it on my net server BUT have been very dissapointed that the Project Leaders have not driven a new version along faster. I am personally starting to have problems as one or two 3rd party applications I run, need to have newer versions that require later php and other packages. I do not want to tamper with the base but at the same time I am becoming increasingly concerned about security aspects related to this. I am sure I am not alone in this situation and this is an aspect that the project needs to bear in mind..


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