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Re: Newbieish question

Hi Brian,

I recently went through two upgrade cycles - from stable (AKA Potato) to 
testing (AKA Woody), and then to unstable (AKA Sid).

On Sid about a 100 or so packages are updated everyday. A few weeks ago, I 
had a severely disabled system when the PAM modules failed to function. In 
essence, I couldn't log into the system. It was a package dependency problem, 
and was fixed the next day during the next round of package updates. To 
ensure that my system is never disabled like this again, and to keep myself 
abreast with the latest software I am in the process of developing guidelines 
for myself about upgrading packages. Here are my guidelines. Hopefully, they 
will offer some help.

1)Updates to the Sid packages can be divided into the following categories:
  a) New upstream release.
  b) Critical bug-fixes with priorities other than low.
  c) Bug-fixes with priority "low".
2)"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Many will recommend that a cron job be 
run to update packages daily. I think this is wasteful for somebody trying to 
maintain stability in an otherwise "unstable" setup. I subscribe to the 
debian-devel-changes mailing list, and I filter the 100 or so messages that I 
receive everyday regarding updates based on the criteria in point (1). This 
leaves about five emails to peruse everyday and doesn't take more than five 
3) More importantly, I don't try to upgrade a package unless I need a new 
feature, or a critical bug-fix is needed.
4) Some packages - like the libpam package - can break your sytem critically. 
Be very wary when upgrading these packages. It would be wise to download the 
package, and watch the mailing list for updates in the days following. Better 
still, wait a few days and watch the bug reports posted for that package. 
Once satisfied that the package is "stable", install it.
5) One may wish to have the latest features for a piece of software. When an 
upstream release occurs, wait a few days and follow the steps in point (3) 
before updating.
6) [Especially when multiple machines need to be updated]. Download the 
package on one machine. Update it, ensure that the system is not disabled in 
any manner. Use the same packages (share the download directory) and update 
the other systems.

These guidelines are rather elementary, but so far they have proved 
worthwhile :-).


On Sunday July 15 2001 15:11, Brian Ballsun-Stanton wrote:
> Please take pity :)
> I'm an extreme newbie to debian (having installed it for the first time
> about a week ago. I was assiged the task of setting up a 50 seat network,
> and since we're an edcuational institution, we have a really tight
> budget: the savings of not having to buy a $9 per person liscence are
> quite hefty.
> Unfortuantly, we'll still be using w2k clients. Now, not having my head
> completly buried in my ::cough:: I knew that samba could provide file
> sharing. Little did I know that samba-tng would provide good w2k access.
> This is my dilemma: to run samba-tng, I have to upgrade to "unstable." My
> mandate explictly states that downtime is *BAD*, very, very, very,
> bad. How risky is running unstable? What shouldn't I do? Should I upgrade
> to 2.4.6? (I'm running a home box as a testbed for this, so I'll be warned
> slightly in advance, but...)
> I'd love any advice or assistance.
> If anyone wants to help, or discuss this over lunch, I live in LA, and
> I'll be going to rochester, NY, for 3 days next week. I'd love to actually
> discuss this with someone who knows what they're talking about.
> Thank you,
> -Brian

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