[lug] Using Debian

Timothy C. Klein teece at silverklein.net
Mon Oct 7 12:08:46 MDT 2002

* John Hernandez (John.Hernandez at noaa.gov) wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> I'm a RH user, but have often contemplated trying Debian.  One thing
> that has held me back to some extent is that I'm not sure if it's easy
> to find new software pre-packaged in apt (.deb?) format.  Is that what
> the "unstable" repository is all about?  If it provides relatively new
> software, how far behind does it tend to be, and is it fairy
> comprehensive compared to, say, rpmfind?

Any major package is easy to find.  Once in a while, there will be
smaller packages that you can only find in RPM format.  Those are
usually created by the package maintainer.  As far as vendor / distro
maintain package archives, you will never find anything lacking.  As a
matter of fact, in my experience, the number of packages available in
Debian is considerably *better* than any other distro I have used.  I
don't know how well RPM find works, but probably 98% of the time I type
'apt-get install <pkg>' and what I wanted is automatically installed.

> Some explanation of stable vs unstable and debian versioning in general
> might be helpful to me.  For example, does a stable update ever involve
> a software version change, or do they only backport security-related
> patches?

Stable is the current, realeased and tested version o Debian.  Testing
are the packages that are trying to make it into Stable.  Unstable are
brand new uploads from developers that may not have had any thourough
testing done yet.  No new packages are allowed into stable, only
security or show-stopping bugfixes.  They will not import a new, perhaps
untested version into Stable, rather the fix will be backported.  Once
every few months they will realease a 'point' release with a collection
of bugs that have been fixed, but absolutely no new stuff is allowed.
The Testing branche requires a package to have had no new bug reports on
a 30 days or something.  Testing will one day be the next stable version
of Debian.  Unstable is for brand new stuff, or brand new versions.

Most, but not all, things in unstable are in stable, just the version
number will be lower in stable.  In between releases, the Debian folks
are working to make the Unstable distro into Testing, and the Testing
distro into Stable.  This takes a long time.  It is the only real
problem I have found with Debian.

> Does apt-get allow interactive choice between stable and newer
> (presumably unstable) packages if your sources list includes both?

Theoritically yes, realistically no.  The capability is supposedly
there, but I have never tried to get it to work.  I'm not even sure if
the feature is included the the newest version of Stable apt, (it wasn't
in the last).

> Also, if I have robust 'net connectivity here, is a network (ftp, http)
> install from a nearby mirror reasonable, or should I download (iso's?)
> and go from there?

There is execellent network download support.  The Debian folks would
rather you installed it that way, so you don't download things you don't

== Timothy Klein || teece at silverklein.net   ==
== ---------------------------------------- ==
== "Hello, World" 17 Errors, 31 Warnings... ==

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