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Re: Which release

Joey Harrison <netcrusher88@yahoo.com> writes:

> I am installing Debian on a Internet-capable computer for
> experimentation and a way to continue learning about Linux without
> the limitations of a live CD. Should I use stable, testing, or
> unstable?  My preference would be to have the most recent packages,
> but also somewhat tested, so should I use testing? Thanks.

If you've never used Debian or (especially) Linux before, I'd strongly
recommend starting with stable, and change to a less solid
distribution if you decide that you're sufficiently comfortable with
the system and that stable as a whole is just too old.  While sid has
been doing okay for the past few months, it *is* prone to the
occasional failure where nothing on your system will run, and if you
don't follow the mailing lists and know how to track things down and
fix them, you can get stuck.

If you *do* want to run a newer distribution, I'd recommend
subscribing to debian-devel-announce (several messages a week) and
becoming familiar with the Debian bug-tracking system
(http://bugs.debian.org/, reportbug package).  Learn how to use the
available tools to figure out dependency chains; I recommend aptitude
as a package manager.  If you follow testing, be aware that it doesn't
get regular security updates (stable does via security.debian.org,
unstable generally gets rapid updates via the normal update
mechanism).  Consider subscribing to debian-devel as well (fairly high
traffic, though).  Look in the debian-user archives to understand a
little more about the current state of dependency issues in both
testing and unstable.

Given that your stated goals are "learn how things work", though, I'd
probably avoid the bleeding edge.  Some of the things in unstable are
a little newer, prettier, and shinier, but stable has that name for a
reason; a lot of testing happens before a Debian release goes out, and
software won't randomly change under you (even security updates try to
be minimally invasive) even if you regularly do an update within

David Maze         dmaze@debian.org      http://people.debian.org/~dmaze/
"Theoretical politics is interesting.  Politicking should be illegal."
	-- Abra Mitchell

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