Saturday, May 22, 2010

Debian “testing” vs Ubuntu “stable”

SuperUser has an interesting question and answer page.
Ubuntu and Debian are my two favourite distos. Ubuntu has the more up-to-date packages, but Debian is more stable. I'd been toying with the idea of trying Debian Testing, to get more up-to-date packages, but the Q&A page pretty much coalesced my ideas- for me, the stability is becoming more appealing than the desire for the latest packages. If I really want the excitement of getting the latest packages reasonably promptly, Ubuntu, the way I came, would be the way to go (or in fact, return).
Ubuntu is a reasonable compromise between features and stability- LTS releases a good compromise- and Debian is an excellent choice for a rock-solid system, although the packages become a little dated as the release ages.
Debian Testing is for people who enjoy regular updates, regular new features and fixing problems. One of the things about Debian Stable (Lenny) that is growing on me is the complete lack of updates I've seen- consistency from month to month seems to be comfy rather than boring. Quite a contrast to Ubuntu, where something seems to get updated every few days.
I have to say I am looking forward to the release of Debian Squeeze, and some updated packages, possibly in the autumn (the release date is uncertain)?


  1. You know, Debian Testing is GREAT. It's fast, and actually pretty stable.


    I just reinstalled it from a NetInst CD, and I've done this a few times over the past month or two (you know how it goes lol) - but THIS time a whole bunch of new stuff is there, changed, etc - for example, DRI2 is there now, which doesn't support my vid card without KMS and I don't know enough yet to compile a kernel or anything like that :p

    I think it basically just broke for me - they must have just shifted a bunch of packages that were in testing to stable and unstable to testing.

    Now I'm running AntiX M8.5 as an emergency live-cd and I installed it to my hard drive, looked in Synaptic for updates, and sure enough, nearly every package wants updated (and M8.5 is based on Mepis/DebTesting) I dunno whether or not to go back to stable or what, lol.

    It's great, but man, Linux requires constant maintenance. :P At least with Windows you run Registry Cleaners and defrags, maybe a few virus scans and that's it. Linux you stay up for like three days just trying to get X to work. XD

  2. So far, Lenny has been rock-solid. OK, some of the packages are a little dated, the video card driver doesn't support Compiz, which Ubuntu, Fedora and Mandriva all do "out of the box" now, and I had to use a backport to get Pidgin working with MSN, but it's basically bomb-proof, and everything that really needs to work, does.

    I hope your problem in Testing gets sorted out. The possibility of updates in Testing introducing bugs was one reason I decided to stick with Lenny- others being that the Squeeze release is so near, and that I'd been using Ubuntu 10.04 previously since the Alpha, and the novelty of daily updates had worn off.

    I'm enjoying the stability of Lenny, but missing the latest package updates I'd got used to in Ubuntu.

  3. You might be surprised, but in my experience it's not so true. Sure, some package is very tight and supported by Canonical(such as Gnome and GUI), but for most packages it's not true at all(mercurial for example). Also, all "Ubuntu supported ONLY" packages are available from experimental repo, which are more stable than Ubuntu UNSTABLE("Beta"), because it's update freq. is faster, and for developing status it's more stable...
    I believe that users/developers(assuming they have Internet) shell use Debian, because they can mix testing + unstable + experimental. Why this mixing is so GREAT?
    I tell you why I specifically do this. I'm developing for fun, and I want to use the new libnotify API 0.7. It doesn't supported in Debian, even Unstable, so I install from experimental. But this doesn't mean I have to update all my packages to experimental, I can still have a testing(very stable) Libre Office, and so for my favorite player.
    The user decide which packages he involves more(for supporting them, or he really likes the new features).
    This is why Debian is such a great operating system. Sure, there are many other reason why, but this is the relevant reason for your post.
    And yes, you guessed right, I was an Ubuntu user and left for Debian, because I hate Ubuntu update freq. . I know there are 100+ articles says I'm wrong, but I'm not. Check it for your self:

  4. I'm still tempted by Testing, and might do an upgrade if Gnome 3 arrives in Testing significantly earlier than it's due in Stable; I'll leave Experimental to those like you who find the challenge fun.

  5. I like Debian Mint (based on testing) rolling distro, and I also use Ubuntu 11.04 just to keep an eye on both. Seems to be nice and stable enough for me.