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Re: Reviving the Debian FAQ

On Fri, Sep 16, 2005 at 12:52:01AM -0400, Kamaraju Kusumanchi wrote:
> Miles Bader wrote:
> >But the sentence
> >"Testing is intended for Debian developers. If you are not a Debian
> >developer, then install unstable as opposed to testing" is nonsensical;
> >just get rid of it.

> This has been corrected now. The corresponding question and answer are 
> given below so that the experts can offer their opinion. Your comments 
> are most welcome.

> 10. OK! so far so good. Could you tell me whether to install testing or 
> unstable?

> This is a rather subjective issue. There is no perfect answer but only a 
> "wise guess" could be made while deciding between unstable and testing. 
> My personal order of preference is Stable, Unstable and Testing. The 
> issue is like this:

> Stable is rock solid. It does not break.

> Testing breaks less often than Unstable. But when it breaks, it takes a 
> long time for things to get rectified. Sometimes this could be days and 
> it could be months at times. But in unstable things get rectified within 
> couple of days.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to qualify exactly what *kinds* of breakage
you're talking about here?

At any given time, there are a large number of packages in unstable that
contain RC bugs that keep them (or particular versions of them) out of
testing.  Some of these are reported in the BTS, and some of them aren't.
You can use apt-listbugs to tell you about the first class of these bugs
before you install the package, and the second class of bugs are normally
those that prevent a package's dependencies from being installable *at all*,
but these are both still issues that the user of unstable should be aware of
and willing to accept.

Furthermore, the fact that maintainers upload directly to unstable means
that bugs there *can* be fixed within a couple of days; it does not ensure
that they *are* fixed that quickly.  Feel free to check the BTS for evidence
of packages with longstanding RC bugs in unstable.

> But there are times when tracking testing would be beneficial as opposed 
> to unstable. One such situation occurred to me due to the gcc transition 
> from gcc3 to gcc4. I was trying to install labplot package on a machine 
> tracking unstable and it could not be installed in unstable as some of 
> its dependencies have undergone gcc4 transition and some have not. But 
> the package in testing is installable on a testing machine as the gcc4 
> transitioned packages have not "trickled down" to testing.

Yes, this kind of situation happens to some subset of packages in unstable
*constantly*, unless there is a freeze in progress.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
vorlon@debian.org                                   http://www.debian.org/

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