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Re: testing versus unstable: tradeoffs?

Kai Grossjohann <kgrossjo@eu.uu.net> writes:

> People at my site wish to migrate away from Debian stable to
> something more current.  I understand that unstable is more bleeding
> edge than testing, and that there is some kind of automatic process
> whereby packages migrate from unstable to testing.  (That automatic
> process makes sure there are no (critical?) bugs filed against the
> package, and I think that a package needs to ripen for some time in
> unstable, before being allowed to migrate to testing.)
> One can compare the distributions along several dimensions.  Here are
> some of them.  I'd appreciate any comments you might have.  Below, I'm
> arguing in favor of unstable and against testing (as devil's advocate,
> if you will).  What do you think about those arguments?  Prove me
> wrong!  8-)
> * Number of bugs.
>   One might think that testing has fewer bugs than unstable.  But the
>   truth is, since testing is an automatic process against filed bug
>   reports, bugs can always creep in there before they are discovered
>   and filed.  And, what's more, problems will be fixed much quicker in
>   unstable than in testing, due to the ripening required in testing.


> * Security fixes.
>   Security fixes come automatically with the new package installs in
>   unstable, whereas the security fixes department in the testing
>   distribution is not to be relied upon.

Also correct.

Testing can actually be more broken than unstable during transitional
phases, since it can take a long time for a transition to completely
move to testing.  And, a major package like libc6 being broken can bring
testing to a standstill for a loooong time.

However, when close to a new release (we're pretty close to one now),
testing can be very stable, usable, and up-to-date.

Personally, I think anyone who runs testing any time not within a month
or two of a release is absolutely insane, but a lot of people do it
anyway and seem happy with it.  I run unstable on all of my machines and
very rarely have any problems.  YMMV.

Don't worry, it's *in*-flammable.

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