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Debian Upgrades

Debian Leaders: We Need to Release More Often 460

daria42 writes "The lack of a new stable release of Debian GNU/Linux since July 2002 is fuelling the campaigns of many candidates for the project's Debian Project Leader role, with many pushing for a shorter and more stable release cycle to stop Linux users heading for greener and more updated pastures."
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Debian Leaders: We Need to Release More Often

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:51AM (#11972689)
    July 2002 .. you've gotta be kidding me.. right ? Another Slasheditor typo ?

    I thought Debian was an enthusiasts distro..
    • Nope. This is correct.
      • by LordoftheWoods ( 831099 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:27AM (#11972911)
        Indeed. The whole Debian stable rationalization is actually pretty easy to explain.

        I believe the meaning of the word 'stable' is doesn't change often.

        Or was it "So placed as to resist forces tending to cause motion."

        stable as in stability, right? Isn't stability supposed to be a good thing?

        That in mind, I do agree releases a year or so more often would help Debian. But for some people only having to update every few years is a great thing, they don't want upheavals on their servers every 6 months. This is the kind of people Debian stable serves. All of the rest use testing or unstable. They should make the website be more clear that stable is not for desktop users who want recent stuff.
        There really isn't anyone working on Debian full time, and it's release pace reflects this. Debian is, well, different.
        • Oh, and I forgot to add.

          Unstable - changes often

          for any slow people out there. English, anyone?
          • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:22AM (#11973372)
            However, in engineering, "unstable" often means "buggy", "defective" or "dangerous". That's what comes to mind when people hear that word; they don't refer to their dictionaries to look up less menacing definitions. The term "testing" isn't much better either.

            The Debian project should really change their terminology if they don't want to scare people away unnecessarily. Any marketroid would tell them that it would be better to go with something like "Enterprise Edition", "Personal Edition" and "Exxtreme! Edition".

            • Re:This is comical.. (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:24AM (#11973571)
              "Enterprise Edition", "Personal Edition" and "Exxtreme! Edition".

              If you were running for that Debian Project Leader Role, I would vote for you.

              We're using SuSE because we can't use pacakges from something called "unstable"

            • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @05:12AM (#11973705)
              I thought the three branches are "stale", "rusting" and "broken"...
            • by say ( 191220 )

              Any marketroid would tell them that it would be better to go with something like "Enterprise Edition", "Personal Edition" and "Exxtreme! Edition".

              Anyone who cares about such things should go use RHEL. Debian is not about marketroid thinking. To those businesses who use more expensive, worse solutions than debian because debian's "modern branch" is called testing: their loss.

        • Except... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by sp0rk173 ( 609022 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:28AM (#11973196)
          FreeBSD maintains the same kind of stability WITH a more current release schedule. 5-stable (unlike 5-release) will give you a very stable system. 5-release will give you a pretty rock solid system, though unbreakability is not guaranteed. Use 6-current and you better expect breakage, though it's not guaranteed. The last -stable FreeBSD milestone? Nov. 6 2004 [].

          Before there's a shitload of replies about 5 sucking - yes it did suck when it was strictly a new technology release. Now bugs have been patched and more things have come out from under the giant lock. Speed has increased, as has stability, and it has earned the -stable tag. The point of this post is just to say stable != extremely out of date. stability is just well-tested, well-written code.
          • packages (Score:3, Insightful)

            FreeBSD maintains the same kind of stability WITH a more current release schedule.

            FreeBSD doesn't have packages for most of things and for a few platforms. Compare that with releasing 12000 packages (14 CDs, IIRC?) for 10-12 architectures. Is not that FreeBSD sucks, they work great, but is not fair to compare two things that are not really the same. And BTW, the 4.X -> 5.3 step has not been exactly "fun".

            (and don't come saying "this is the proof that ports > packages. Time has showed everybody th
        • by m50d ( 797211 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @04:49AM (#11973642) Homepage Journal
          There's one big problem with the Debian system: testing doesn't get security updates. Unstable doesn't either, but they'll get it as soon as the project releases its own updated version. But testing keeps the same packages for quite a while, and is in the right place in terms of modernity/stability for many desktop users. If it got fixes and security updates, it would be a very useable system.
          • by say ( 191220 )

            There's one big problem with the Debian system: testing doesn't get security updates.

            This is a myth. Testing gets lots of security updates, from both and through the extremely rapid propagation of "normal" upgrades that packages get. Most maintainers seem to propagate security-related bugfixes within hours.

            If you use very rare packages with slumbering maintainers, you could probably be in loss of security upgrades, though.

  • well.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by schnits0r ( 633893 ) <nathannd@[ ] ['sas' in gap]> on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:52AM (#11972693) Homepage Journal
    I would like to be the first to say "duh". Debian is old. Despite it being stable, it's often a good idea to have the newest programs to keep up with the newest technologies.

    However, I do find that using a netinstall version of the "testing" release tends to keep up to date with most packages.
    • Re:well.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Amiga Lover ( 708890 )
      What are the problems with releasing debian more often, that have caused it to become older and older? I think it's 3 years soon since Woody was new.

      I've heard it mentioned that some packages are keeping things back, and by the time those packages are ready, there are others being kept back. it's a duke nuke'em kind of situation

      Why not aim for a 12-monthly release? Go over by a month or two if absolutely needed, but aim for that. Even if some packages were missed the first time around and left the same as
      • Re:well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lullabud ( 679893 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:14AM (#11972840) Homepage
        Even if some packages were missed the first time around and left the same as the old ones, then damn... they could have been caught up three times over already (assuming yearly releases over the last 3 years)
        I think that defeats the idea of a stable release. The test versions of Debian are released weekly, and from my experience they work perfectly fine. In fact, a few weeks ago I even had a problem installing Debian on a Dell SC420 because the installer didn't have support for SATA, but the following week's release put that support in. I think it's important to realize that the slow release cycle is just for a stable release, which is rock solid, and not for releases in general. Personally, I like the way they do it now.
        • Re:well.. (Score:2, Informative)

          by dondelelcaro ( 81997 )
          The test versions of Debian are released weekly, and from my experience they work perfectly fine.
          Testing gets updated daily, not weekly. (Katie runs at least every 24 hours and the mirror pulse happens soon afterwords.)

          You're probably refering to d-i which does have snapshots which get updated every now and then, but it itself is updated all the time.
        • My only complaint is that the testing version of Debian is updated a bit too often. I dislike having to get 10-20MB of packages every week to keep up just in case there are some security updates included (Debian security notifications are only done for the stable release).

          I would prefer something in between stable and testing, updated reasonably often with new packages (and features) and also have security releases in between as required.
    • Re:well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:58AM (#11973086) Journal
      Back in the 20th century Debian was not that old.

      My guess is FOSS really took off unexpectingly and Linux became ported to more architectures besides x86 and the Alpha. This caused the folks at Debian to focus on everybody including the atari users.

      If a bug was fixed for most platforms but the amiga users (all 15) was still present, then package X would not be updated on any of the other releases. This is whats hurting it.

      I hate to say it but the x86, powerpc, and sparc versions should be ahead and have a later version then the others. FreeBSD for example has alpha and powerpc as different tiers of support, although alpha is still pretty stable.

      • Re:well.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Todesmetall ( 826497 )
        Back in the 20th century Debian was not that old.
        In fact, a new version was released roughly every 12 months, at least in the beginning. Then it took about 18 months from potato to woody, and now three years have passed since the release of woody...

  • by ABeowulfCluster ( 854634 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:54AM (#11972704)
    I can see the need for keeping ahead of security bugs, but to change for change's sake is just silly.
    • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:23AM (#11972889) Homepage
      I can see the need for keeping ahead of security bugs...

      Speaking of which... *tap* *tap* is this thing turned on? Is anyone from the Debian security team listening? I've got a security issue here... I've e-mailed vendor-sec (3 weeks ago)... I've e-mailed debian-security-private directly (1.5 weeks ago)... are you guys planning on responding some time this month?

      (Yes, I'm entirely serious. Slashdot isn't my preferred channel for communicating with other security teams, but the usual mechanisms seems to have failed, and I figure that there must be at least a few Debian people reading this story.)
  • by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:55AM (#11972712)
    I have no problem playing with aptitude from their latest unstable Sarge (it's great BTW), but it makes it very hard for me to recommend Debian on servers to customers when the latest stable release is eons old. Yes, I know there are ways around this... but let's face it, from a customer point of view it's an small image problem Debian has.
    • by JayAEU ( 33022 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:23AM (#11972892)
      Strangely enough, there are actually people who appreciate long release cycles! I have servers running woody which absolutely need nothing newer and I'm happy about the fact that I don't have to change everything every 18 months.

      If the release cycle were to be shortened to said 18 months, it would be nice if Debian were to maintain older releases and not only the previous release, like it it now.

      I recommend Debian to my customers as a server platform, exactly because it has the finest package management and the longest release cycles. When stability is the goal, Debian is the right choice!
      • What they need is a new release for people like you (and me on my servers). They could call it Debian 'OldButFuckingSolidAsARock'. Then stable could be, say, approximately a year later subject to pretty damn good stability (after all, no software can be guaranteed perfect yet), unstable and testing to follow.

        Three levels just isn't enough to grade sensibly from known-near-perfect to bleeding-edge.

  • anecdote (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @12:55AM (#11972715)

    Debian was the first Linux distribution I ever downloaded, in the summer of 2003. I was on dial-up at the time (and didn't even have my own line, so I couldn't download 24/7), and I remember being worried that there'd be a new release by the time I was done downloading the first ISO. I mean, open-source software moves fast, right?

    Should've relaxed.

  • debian (Score:2, Interesting)

    I suppose an apt-get answer to yum,portage et-al seems appropriate in exchange for the debian written security patches that would only be included in the stable branch. They should focus on i686 binaries instead. Since such a small minority of debian users are still using 386's
  • Duh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:00AM (#11972754) Homepage Journal
    Geez. All I can say is Duh. Yes, you need to release more often. Indeed, you need to release once. Release period. Boy, did I goof by deciding to base the UserLinux release management on Debian. Good idea in theory. And I couldn't get all of the time I wanted to work on the project. But I finally got my act together, but Debian didn't release, and didn't release, and didn't release, and still didn't release. And I will start working on UL again when there is a distro to base it upon.


    • How is it going otherwise? Is the project dead? Have you considered any other distros to base it on?
      • Re:Duh... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:16AM (#11972856) Homepage Journal
        It's ready to go, as soon as Debian makes their release.


        • Re:Duh... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by grozzie2 ( 698656 )
          The point of releasing a 'distribution' is to solve shortcomings, and create solutions, not to sit back, wait for others to do the work, then rebadge it with your own name, then try take credit for thier work.

          If you really want UL to be 'something' and 'out there', why not just do the required work, and 'get it out'. If you have to wait for a debian update, where is the value add in the UL?

          • Re:Duh... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:42AM (#11973239) Homepage Journal
            It's not as if I don't work for Debian. Today I am a volunteer on their corporate board and represent them to various standards organizations. More of my time is devoted to working for the entire Free Software community, and I flew 50K miles last year to represent Free Software, doing things like speaking against software patenting at the EU parliament in Brussels, keynoting a GNOME conference in Norway, lobbying in Washington D.C., teaching law students in Hawaii, and briefing reporters at every LinuxWorld show.

            Historicaly, I am the author of Debian's fundamental policy document and did a lot of the early work on their system.

            I've paid my dues a few times over.


            • Re:Duh... (Score:3, Interesting)

              by QuantumG ( 50515 )
              I think what he was trying to say was, why would someone choose UserLinux over, say, Ubuntu, if there's no new work being put into it? I don't know anything about UserLinux but I thought I'd do my part to stop this conversation spiraling out of control. We all know you "do stuff" for Free Software, your antagoniser just wanted to know what you do for UserLinux.
              • Re:Duh... (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:14AM (#11973350) Homepage Journal
                The essential reason to choose UserLinux is that it avoids the conflict between Open Source and producing income that all commercial distributions develop while supporting the enterprise. Fully Open-Source distributions won't make a profit over the long term. You have to hold something back like certification or bug reports. And when you do that, the result is something less than Open Source. Rather than give up on fully Open Source distributions, I concluded that we don't have to make money from them. There are enough interested parties to support them as non-profits.

                The policy of the UserLinux project is for all development to be carried out within Debian, not within our own repository. Customers can take a much greater role because the Debian organization admits them fairly.

                Of course, the long release delay has made something of a fool of me - because so far we've only proven that this non-profit can't get it together to make a release.

                There is a lot more in the white paper on the project site.


    • Re:Duh... (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      See what happens when you don't pay his consulting fees? He makes you look bad.
    • Re:Duh... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Soko ( 17987 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:14AM (#11972838) Homepage
      IMVHO, ubuntu [] is Debian Done Right.

      Check it out - I'm certain that they'd like the help of a high profile advocate like Bruce Perens.

  • Debian thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:01AM (#11972757)
    As a new Linux user, what I heard from all my friends was, "don't use Debian, use Mepis or Knoppix or Ubuntu." It seems to be the opinion of many that Debian is nice, but it's not worth using a plain version of Debian, because these other distros have built it into something better. At least, that's the impression. So it seems that Debian is losing "mindshare" among new Linux users to a degree.
    • Re:Debian thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mabinogi ( 74033 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:14AM (#11972837) Homepage
      Well pretty much the whole point of Debian is to have a distribution that others can take, modify, and re-distribute.
      So using Debian derived distributions like Ubuntu or Knoppix is still good for Debian, or at least compatible with its goals.

      The fact that it's a pretty good distribution in its own right is more or less just a bonus....
  • by mr_tap ( 693311 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:01AM (#11972758) Homepage
    Last stable release in 2002 - how can they possibly compete with Microsoft whose last desktop operating system release was in 2001 :)
    • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:22AM (#11972884) Journal
      Microsoft only provides the operating system. A Linux distro, OTOH, is expected to provide just about every program that you might ever want to use.

      A version of Windows from 2001 isn't a problem, but it would be if it couldn't run more recent programs.
    • Well, first of all, I'd call Windows XP SP2 their latest release.

      Secondly, Windows XP is just the a basic operating system. Debian 3.0 has 8710 packages bundled with it, and all of those packages are now almost 2 years old.

      Running a 2002 release of Windows XP doesn't prevent you from installing the lastest version of Mozilla, Firefox or . The version of Mozilla in Debian stable is currently 1.0.0, and Firefox isn't even there!

      I've been running debian servers for the last 5 years, but lately I have been s
  • Yeah... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:06AM (#11972789)
    It would be really nice if Stable were updated at least yearly. I'm willing to play with Unstable or Testing if it's for my own use only, but if it's for someone else then I may as well either use a heavily-package-based distro like RedHat or SuSE, or Slackware if I'm going to have to build a bunch by hand anyway.

    I guess that it'd been awhile since I last installed Debian from scratch, I didn't know that it has been two years.
  • this just in... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuperBanana ( 662181 )

    Debian Leaders: We Need to Release More Often

    This just in: the Catholic Church says the Earth is round.

    In other news, George Broussard admits Duke Nukem Forever "is a little late".

    Question- why did it take, oh, 3 years for them to finally come to terms with the fact that their iguana was turning into a dinosaur? It's like they've all been collectively in denial. I took one look at the list of versions in the stable branch when someone suggested I check out Debian. I laughed, and closed the window

    • Re:this just in... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dondelelcaro ( 81997 ) <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:48AM (#11973035) Homepage Journal
      Question- why did it take, oh, 3 years for them to finally come to terms with the fact that their iguana was turning into a dinosaur? It's like they've all been collectively in denial.
      We've not been happy with the time that it takes to release for AGES now. Potato took too long, woody took longer, and sarge is taking it's own time. The symptoms are known, and much lamented. However, the fix for the underlying problems is far less trivial, and so far no one who is actually capable of doing the work has come forward and done whatever needs doing to fix the actual problem (whatever the hell the actual problem actually is.)
      I understand the need for stability, but that means you put more effort into QA, not that you sit on your ass because what you've got works.
      Perhaps you've been sleeping through the 300,000 [] bugs that have been filed on packages in Debian, many of which have been fixed? Or maybe it's just that you don't really understand the amount of work that it takes to actually release a stable distribution without RC bugs on all of the architectures that Debian supports?
      • We've not been happy with the time that it takes to release for AGES now. Potato took too long, woody took longer, and sarge is taking it's own time. The symptoms are known, and much lamented.

        Okay. So, again, why did it take three releases to realize something was wrong? If the symptoms were known, why didn't people just start fixing them? Politics? Funny thing about politics. Even if the politics aren't in your favor, if your intentions are honest, you're stepping up to the plate when no one else i

        • Re:this just in... (Score:5, Informative)

          by dondelelcaro ( 81997 ) <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:01AM (#11973314) Homepage Journal
          Okay. So, again, why did it take three releases to realize something was wrong?
          It didn't.

          After potato was released, Anthony Towns implemented testing in an attempt to keep testing in a releaseable state always, so releases could occur more rapidly. That helped, but still didn't really fix the problem.

          After woody was released, security support and the installer were serious problems that had stalled the release of woody for quite some time, so more effort was placed into those areas to create a working installer along with a decent security infrastructure. That has helped as well. However, it took quite a while for those to be implemented.

          Now that sarge is on the verge of being released, people are analyzing the situation again to try to figure out what else should be done to fix the problem. The Vancouver Prospectus [] is an attempt to solve what have been identified as the problems for etch.

          you and other Debian people have thrown up your hands and said, "augh, look at this mess, it's huge, complex! We can't possibly fix this mess!
          No, as you can see above, specific things have been attempted to solve the problem. They haven't succeeded, clearly, but it's not for lack of trying them.
          If it's so hard to make a useful distribution, why did we see a veritable explosion of distributions (some of them based off Debian) in the time Debian hasn't released a single stable version?
          Distributions based on Debian are rather easy to make, frankly, especially if you're going to standardize on a specific set of packages and only support them. It helps as well if you can throw money at the problem and hire people to work on specific problems. Point in fact, none of the not-for-profit Debian based distributions have every actually released a stable distribution and suported the entire stable distribution for a whole product life cycle. They have different goals for the releases that they make than Debian does, which is quite acceptable for them. [Nothing is stoping anyone from taking a specific version of testing, calling it "stable" and supporting it. The fact that no one has should tell you something.]
  • Not a huge deal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BAILOPAN ( 694545 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:10AM (#11972808) Homepage
    Ultimately, the people who like Debian will continue to use it; likewise Debian's goal should be keeping its customers satisfied rather than trying to sway people away from other distros.

    I don't really care that it's not updated because apt is flexible enough to work around that. And if a package is _insanely outdated, usually a newer one is in Testing or Unstable. And as a last resource, it's not like Debian precludes you from compiling it myself.

    While more frequent releases would be nice, I like it just the way it is. I feel as if I'm guaranteed that the packages will work together without problems (something I haven't encountered in certain other package management systems). And for the select few programs where the version is unacceptably old (like gaim), I just compile from source code.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...for a second, I thought that read "Lesbian Leaders".

    And I, for one....

    ahhh, never mind.
  • Good news, I think (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:11AM (#11972811)
    I think this is good news that some of the potential leadership in Debian has reconized this as a problem.

    I've been a Debian fan for some time, but I find I am racking my newly built critical servers on RHEL3&4 just because so many of the Debian packages are 'stale'. In a lot of enviroments, running testing is unacceptable and using stable is to far out of date for the intended use of the machine. We are definatly in limbo as far as Debian installs.

    I really hope they pull this together, without Debian the landscape changes dramatically for binary stable systems.

    But, the biggest problem I can see is that by releasing early and often it creates a larger legacy code base that needs to be maintained but does not have the resources to do so. You cannot effectly update a server farm of hundreds to thousands of machines to a new version within a short legacy cycle, yet it is a huge burden to maintain the legacy code for any lengh of time.
  • Even Slackware.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:12AM (#11972819)
    Is up to date, even considering the head honcho's health problems.

    There's no excuse for no Debian stable releases since 2002.

    Maybe Bruce should base UserLinux on that.

  • Debian appears.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:15AM (#11972851) Homepage Journal
    ...just looking at it, to be more of a "base platform" from which people build their own customised distros. This in fact might be an actual model for a future LinuxOS,(OSes in general I mean really) if no standard GNU/LinuxOS ever evolves, just make it incredibly easy to select what sort of computing experience you want, mash a few buttons, answer a few questions about hardware, whatever and etc, and your custom distro gets created, you then download it burn it and install it. People don't really "run" an OS, they want to "run" some applications. They want to just go do stuff with their computer, not really futz with it constantly. Well, I mean the 99% of the other people on the planet. You know, "them" guys.

    Anyway, if you look at it that way, it's neither way behind the times or bleeding edge, it's just a big ole pile of apps and kernels that you have access to. Maybe they should just skip the different versions, let Apt sort it out when people go to build their own, make it a remasters dream system instead of trying to be a stock classic distro "OS". Do something different than what MS and Apple and Sun are doing. Make the personalised "your computer" be the primary focus, along with the "easy" part.
  • but at least give us a distro that we can use for almost-but-not-quite mission critical applications, like web servers for small businesses, or cyber cafe machines.

    There is one very easy way the Debian team could achieve this: merge security patches into Testing at the same time as Stable and Unstable.

    Why would this be a good idea? I can't be bothered re-iterating, so here's a paste from a prior post:

    Stable? Sadly, not an option due to its complete lack of support for modern hardware or moderm features
  • I have used many different distributions (started with one of the very first Slackwares in 2000-2001, stayed with them for a while then moved on to a now defunct German distro, then another defunct one, then Debian, then RH7.x, RH9 and now finally FC3) and the glacial pace of Debian development was what caused me to switch to RH.

    Most of the things I needed were in unstable (at the time it was potato I think), and unstable was breaking various odds and ends on a weekly basis and I didn't trust it at all so
  • Why does debian-stable even have to exist? Let Ubuntu and the other distributions based on debian do your stablising.
  • no shit, einstien! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RelliK ( 4466 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:21AM (#11972879)
    Debian developers basically have two options: either reign in the development cycle or rename "Debian Stable" to "Debian Obsolete". I've been a long-time Debian user, but now I too am looking for greener pastures. The question is where to? Gentoo? Fedora? Is there something that compares to apt-get?
    • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:30AM (#11972927) Homepage Journal
      Nothing compares to apt-get, and that is the biggest shame of all.

    • I'd say there's a number of programs that compare well to apt-get, such as urpmi with mandrake. The problem is that, at least in my opinion, none of the software repositories are on the same level as debian unstables. It's the only linux distro where I've never found myself having to sit around compiling something or other.
    • Definitely Gentoo. A pain to install, but emerge is even nicer than apt-get. Just 'emerge packagename' and the package is downloaded and installed.
      • "apt-get install packagename" hard to remember ;-)?
    • by nns6561 ( 559085 )
      Try Ubuntu. It's nearly as up to date as Gentoo, but still has all the benefits of Debian. Even better, you can apt-get upgrade to it from a Debian install. I recently changed myself. The upgrade is not entirely staightforward but doable. Better yet, you can always go back to Debian relatively easily.
    • by linguae ( 763922 )

      If you're willing to switch to a different OS altogether, try FreeBSD. FreeBSD has a Package and Ports system. Packages are pre-compiled binaries that can be fetched and installed, and Ports is a way of installing software through source.

      To install Firefox, for example, you can type pkg_add -r firefox, and it would fetch a Firefox binary from the FreeBSD servers and install it from your system. If you prefer to compile Firefox, just cd to /usr/ports/www/firefox and type make install clean. It would aut

  • Hey why not the developers would do with the only incubator they are going to use, get a 9 month release cycle for their favourite (and only child;)
  • by futuresheep ( 531366 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:28AM (#11972915) Journal
    Debian was the one distro that I never really thought of having official releases. It has versions that are fluid with their packages:


    Each have their own rewards and risks, but the key to me, was that with the netinstall disks, they never went out of date. You never had a CD set full of six month old packages, you had your favorite debian versions latest, usually day old release, a download away.

    The new installer is excellent, and with the lack of X based GUI, will still work with a minimal download.
    • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:29AM (#11973394)
      The answer is so simple I am surprised nobody has mentioned it.

      Trim down the number of "official" packages. Right now there is something like 3000 packages in the debian system. Why not cur that down to a thousand. Take the top 1000 most popular and best maintained backages and call it debian.

      The rest of the packages can go into "ports" or "contrib" or something. They would still be there if anybody wanted to install them but they would not hold up release cycles, debian would not guarantee they would work with the rest of the system.

      The great thing about debian is that by using stable you are promised that nothing you install will break your system. They can still promise that but just with less packages.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Debian is great, but hey the packages come out too slow!!!

    I changed to Gentoo because a lot of the new software took far too long to be released as a debian package. Sure, I could have just downloaded the software, make install, etc blah. But I wanted to manage my packages!

    For this very reason I switched to Gentoo.

    The only thing annoying about Gentoo is compiling time - which is still quicker than waiting for Debian packages to come out.
  • by natrius ( 642724 ) * <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:30AM (#11972929) Homepage
    People aren't leaving Debian for greener pastures. They're leaving Debian for Debian derivatives. If the last three months on Distrowatch [] are any indication of how much each distrbution is being used, then Debian is the most important distro out there. Ubuntu is #1, Mepis is #3, and Debian itself is #6. The Debian project has obviously doing something right if some of the most popular distros choose to base themselves on it.

    On the other hand, the fact that derivatives are necessary is a sign of Debian's shortcomings. I haven't used Mepis in over a year, but the last time I used it, it was basically Debian installable off of a live CD with easy to use configuration tools. That says that Debian proper is hard to install and lacks user friendly configuration tools. The former problem has been fixed, but I'm not sure the latter has been. Ubuntu is Debian with a shorter release cycle and paid developers to add polish. This shows that users obviously take issue with Debian's long release cycles, and once again, the administration tools. Anyone who is running the development version of Ubuntu right now knows how easy it is to keep things up to date. The newer software also takes advantage of advances on the Linux desktop, such as Project Utopia. I can plug in USB devices, and they just work. It's nice, and Debian proper misses out on things like that because of the age of its packages.

    So who uses Debian stable? From the things I hear, it's people who want a long release cycle. Woody users have been getting security updates for however long it's been since the release. People like that. Ubuntu is supported for 18 months after a release, which is likely to be too short for some people. I don't see how Debian loses out from desktop (and some server) users using the derivatives. Ubuntu is the main derivative, and all its work goes back into Debian proper. When etch is getting ready for release, the job is going to be much easier to do, since Ubuntu has already done much of the work ahead. Sarge has been in some sort of a freeze for most of the time Ubuntu has been around, so they haven't been able to reap the benefits of Ubuntu's presence. People getting paid to work on Debian is a good thing, not something to be angry about, which is the sense I get from some posts on Planet Debian.

    So if Debian shortens its release cycle, where does that put it in the Linux ecosystem? I doubt they will be able to support security updates for multiple stable releases, which is what they would have to do with a short release cycle to maintain the current length of support. As much as Slashdotters like to poke fun at Debian, it plays a very important role. Does it really need to change?

    Debian developers, thanks for making such a great distribution. There are lots of Ubuntu, Mepis, and Debian proper users that appreciate it.
  • We have over 100 Linux servers, but we chose CentOS as our default OS. We could have chosen Debian instead. In fact, the control panel we use for our customers (DirectAdmin []) runs on Debian. But here's the #1 reason I didn't choose Debian:

    [hypothetical scenario]
    Customer: "What operating system version do you use?"
    Us: "Debian unstable."
    Customer: "...unstable??"

    The close-behind #2 reason is the installer, but I understand that's getting fixed. IMHO, Debian should strive to release a new stable version every 6 months, with 12 months being the maximum time between new stable releases. As it is, I cannot justify using Debian for business purposes when their offering that coincides with what we need is labeled "unstable".
  • Question? (Score:2, Funny)

    by deathguppie ( 768263 )

    whats the only thing that takes longer than a full Gentoo compile....

  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:48AM (#11973033)
    fedora: the blowfish sushi of distros, exciting, dangerous and for daredevils. It may kill your machine

    redhat: the cafe food in the basement of the megacorp, great food but at airport restaurant prices.

    novell/suse: the suits come in the front and pay to sit down and get served the same great food most of which is given away at the soup line in the back.

    white hat: sneaks the food away from redhat and does the soup line thing. Some seasoning missing.

    mandrake: tastes like redhat with somewhat better seasoning and operated kind of like the suse restaurant

    gentoo: gourmet ingredients for you to build your own 9 course dinner, hopefully you don't starve in the meantime

    debian: stale, week-past-expiration date bread that won't hurt you, and some rather tasteless but nurishing year-old jerky to put on it.

  • debian (Score:4, Interesting)

    by VAXGeek ( 3443 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:48AM (#11973039) Homepage
    it's important to look at debian as a concept as a whole. when you say "debian stable", you're talking a particular snapshot of all these programs 3 or 4 years ago that have been analyzed and proven stable. if you are looking for what linux provided as a whole 3 years ago, you are probably in the right place. why is it so bad to have a clearly defined role for this "stable" distrobution? it's called "stable" because that is exactly what it is. rock solid stable. if you want fancy jazz, no one stops you from using testing or unstable. despite the scary connotations, testing has proven to be stable as well.
  • by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @01:56AM (#11973076)
    This is a "once more" new iteration of the same old idea of Debian updating their stable branch not often enough. And as always, I have to respectfully but totally disagree.

    For one, people should really understand and see, that not all Linux distributions are just there to suit the newbie (l)users' desktop needs. This is just the attitude people gather while being full-blown Windows users and then fiddling around with some Linux, thinking it's cool and if he can't find his way around, then at least that';s another reason to bash.

    Debian's stable branch is just _the_ perfect distro for servers. You can argue with this statement, but I will _not_ listen to home users' hysterical crap about the newest kde/gnome being necessary. There are places where that simply doesn't matter.

    Where I spend my working hours very few people use Linux distros on their desktops, really very few, but almost all our servers are Linux based. The two of them where I hve root access are Debians. One is a current stable Woody, being web&mail&db&cvs&related server which I installed last year because the previous machine had a major blowup. The other is a Debian Potato (!) which is the previous [i.e. before Woody] stable branch, which is our dns server, up and working for ... well, since about the Potato release.

    No desktop environments, no x, just good stable and reliable code which I trust and - most importantly - _very_ _easy_ to maintain.

    At home I use Debian SID for about 4 years now. Updated about weekly, _very_ stable and usable. It has all the desktop fun I need. Most important: it hasn't been reinstalled since the first install just always copied over to the changed machine (about once in a year, I always hand-build my machines ever since I became acquainted with the screw driver), updated the necessary stuff and keep it always apt-get dist-pgrade-ed.

    For me, and for many others out there, Debian - and now the quite many Debian-based distros, hey, there are even Debian SID-based distros now (!) - represent _the_ _GNU/Linux_ _distro_. For the others, there are plenty of others you can use and that is exactly why Lnux distro forking is a Good Thing, try not to forget that.

  • by buddha42 ( 539539 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @02:12AM (#11973142)
    Debian has three options
    1. Reduce the scope of the project
      • fewer architectures
      • fewer packages
    2. Add development resources
      • hard to do with volunteers
      • inject some money (bounties?)
    3. Streamline operations
      • reduce some of their bureaucracy and excessive policies

    Personally I think they would be best served by doing a little of each.

    • by natrius ( 642724 ) * <> on Friday March 18, 2005 @03:41AM (#11973421) Homepage
      Reduce the scope of the project

      I disagree. One of the greatest things about Debian is the scope of the project. I can install almost anything and not have to hunt around the internet for a package. It's all in one place. I think the currently proposed approach on not releasing the lesser used architectures at the same time at the others is the correct approach. Abandoning them completely would be foolish, but having a whole release held back by problems with software that's not even heavily used is a problem.

      Add development resources

      This has been done. Ubuntu. People are paid to work full time, and their work goes straight into Debian. This also takes care of the issue Slashdotters have with the long release cycles, since people can download a new version of Ubuntu with the latest version of Gnome, KDE, etc. every six months. The problem it doesn't solve is that of people who want to run Debian stable, but can't use the ridiculously old packages for commonly used web programming languages. The release cycle needs to be shortened, but not by too much.

      reduce some of their bureaucracy and excessive policies

      You call the policies excessive, but it's thanks to their efforts that is possible to run a computer based on completely Free software (and Free documentation, which is probably the issue that prompted this point). Sure, their policies often err on the side of idealism rather than pragmatism, but I think it's beneficial for the entire community that they do this.
  • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <`sd_resp2' `at' `'> on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:56AM (#11973975)
    Debian is a victim of its own success.

    It's an absolutely massive project. There are about ten thousand packages, all including metadata for full automatic dependency checking and resolution. Each of these packages is available for each of a dozen architectures, and there is consistency across all platforms. Debian is Debian; whether it's running on an Intel, a PPC, a Sparc, an ARM or whatever. The user need not know what lies beneath the skin of the machine; the procedure for doing something should be absolutely the same whatever is inside.

    For a project of that sheer size to work, it's pretty much got to be ruled over with an iron fist -- if not literally, then those involved have to act as though it were so.

    Woody is out-of-date for desktops; I don't think there is any question of that. KDE 2.2? Hello? And it's not exactly up to the minute for servers, either: it's still pushing Apache 1.3, for crying out loud!

    The real problem stems from the fact that before a package can be accepted into the Stable release, it has to be shown to be bug-free on each of twelve architectures. So if it segfaults on a steam-powered toaster, it can't be deemed fit to run on an 80386.

    But that's just the ideal for the Stable distribution. There are two other Debian distributions, Testing and Unstable. Whenever someone creates a brand-new .deb package, it goes into Unstable. The rules are, if you run packages from Unstable, and they break, you don't bitch: you fix them, or you keep your trap shut, but you don't bitch. Once a package has been in Unstable for awhile, it can go to Testing. When the project leaders are satisfied that the current state of the Testing distribution satisfies all the criteria and is fit to call Stable, then a new Stable distribution is born.

    Testing is actually the Debian distribution you probably really want to be running if you have an 80386-type machine. Yes, security updates get ported into Stable in good time; but Testing probably has newer versions of packages anyway which are likely to have the security patch in by default. It's safe to run on servers iff you read the news and you know how to apply a patch and compile a package from source. {And if you don't, then what the hell are you doing running a server?} But Unstable is actually quite reasonable. I've found it to be no worse than Fedora or Mandrake: any problems I've had with packages not installing or not co-operating turned out to be due to mis-specified dependencies, requiring cunning use of manual override and package searches. So no worse than any RPM distro there :) It's not the packages themselves that are unstable; rather, the versions are unstable, simply because the maintainers keep putting in new versions as soon as the .debs are put together. I wouldn't run it on a server; but on my laptop, which is behind a firewall, it works very well, and I'm also using it on my work desktop {an AMD64}. All that being said, I am tempted to try Kubuntu [] -- it's just like Ubuntu [] but with a KDE desktop {sorry, but despite my best efforts, I really can't get to grips with GNOME}.

    It's also worth remembering that every Debian-derivative -- Ubuntu, Linspire and so forth -- started out as a copy of the Unstable tree.

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