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 Post subject: Debian Stable packages vs. Debian Testing packages
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:32 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:54 pm
Posts: 51
On behalf of Swift Linux (, new distro based on antiX Linux), should I have it configured to install Debian Stable or Debian Testing packages by default?

So far, I've set up Swift Linux to install Debian Stable packages by default. However, I am considering setting Swift Linux to use Debian Testing packages by default. I'm suspecting that using Debian Stable packages doesn't improve the stability that much given that antiX Linux and MEPIS Linux are based on Debian Testing, and it's better to be consistent. What do you think?

That said, I'm sticking with OpenOffice 2.4 (from Debian Lenny) for all editions of Swift Linux that have OpenOffice preinstalled. Version 3 of OpenOffice is twice as heavy as version 2. From the specs, I don't think version 3 would work well on 128 MB of RAM (the minimum requirement I specify for Swift Linux), and the extra space it needs could make the ISO too big to fit on a CD, which would defeat the suitability of Swift Linux for 10-year-old computers.

 Post subject: Re: Debian Stable packages vs. Debian Testing packages
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:03 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:02 am
Posts: 1103
Location: Clinton Township, Michigan
In terms of package volatility, Debian Stable changes a LOT less. In terms of applications that work, I think you will find that both Debian Stable and Debian Testing are as good or better than the majority of other alternatives. Right now, though Debian Wheezy, the new current Testing repository, is probably more volatile than it has been in quite a while, that does not necessarily make it unstable. In fact, the packages being imported into Wheezy have been checked out for quite a while in Debian Sid, especially with the recent log jam prior to the February 5, 2010 release of Debian Squeeze, which is STABLE and RELEASED - at LAST!

As far as what the MEPIS community uses, SimplyMEPIS Version 11.0 is tied, not to Debian Testing, per se, but to Debian Squeeze. Until February, it was Debian Testing, but Warren knew that it was about to become stable - and it IS now the stable release. As far as antiX goes, typically anticapitalista includes the lines in the repo for all three alternatives - Stable, Testing, and Unstable, but typically comments out Stable and Unstable, and distributes antiX with Testing enabled. I think that is a reasonable approach. It is somewhat more volatile than the approach that SimplyMEPIS uses, but in around five years of using antiX, I have never once encountered an issue (other than one brief quirk with the wicd network management tool), so I would claim that stability with Testing is NOT a major concern.

The question you may want to ask is whether you would rather have a rather static, very stable, but fairly quickly aging system, or if you can tolerate a moderate level of packaging volatility in your system. Keep in mind that you don't HAVE to continually update the packages in your system; you can update them as frequently or as infrequently as you wish, though at least monthly CHECKS is probably a good idea. I usually upgrade my systems on a weekly basis. That keeps the number of packages to install at a moderate level, keeps the systems fairly up to date, and I watch what is getting changed - and I can always pull back on a change - and say NO if I do not want to make the changes being proposed.

Therefore, I would advocate using Debian Testing for a desktop oriented system. I'd consider using Debian Stable more if I were building a server, where I would want security and bug fix enhancements, but not anything else. But for a desktop environment, Debian Testing presents an excellent compromise, and rarely introduces issues that would require a rebuild or a restore to a previous configuration - I've never had to do that with a Debian Testing system.

A Debian Sid configuration also makes for a great desktop environment, but there, I would be much more cautious about package stability; you can occasionally (though not frequently) run into problems with Sid. So, all in all, I suggest that Debian Testing is an excellent repository environment on which to base a lean, current generation desktop system, and I think that Swift Linux would work very well with a Debian Testing environment.

Hope that background helps you to make your own decision, and keep working on this exciting, fun system that you have been developing!

(Lurkers, take a look at what Jason Hsu has been doing with Swift Linux. I believe he has some links to his work elsewhere in this forum).

Brian Masinick
Favorite distros: antiX, MX, Debian Sid

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