Anyone using Debian Testing?

Somebody tells me that Debian testing (currently lenny) is "stable enough for everyone except Debian developers… perhaps even more stable than the latest release of Ubuntu…"

Would there be any truth in that statement? Is anyone using Debian testing on their linode? Any linode-specific issues?

7 Replies

I switched from etch to lenny on 9/18 without incident (other than a ginormous dist-upgrade).

I've been using Debian testing on my Linode since I first opened it in 2006 (when testing was then etch, now lenny) with no issues. The only nervousness that I've had about it is that testing isn't officially security supported so sometimes security updates have been made available later than they were for stable. Other than that it's been perfectly solid with almost no issues.

As for Linode-specific issues, I've never had any. (I've always been on UML though, so maybe take that with a grain of salt.)

If I were setting up a new system at this point, it'd be Lenny for sure. But if you've got a working system and have the upgrade itch, I'd say wait.

In a couple of weeks (well, hopefully) you'll get the official release, and more importantly the official release notes, which list all the possible gotchas and guide you through the entire process of upgrading. Yes, you could fire off dist-upgrade and hope for the best, but especially in the server environment you want to know where the speedbumps are.

If you can really be patient, you may want to wait a couple more weeks after that, since software's best test is the one that happens right after release. But I wouldn't expect you to go that far. :-)

I had been using Debian testing for many years for different purposes, but about a year ago switched to Ubuntu everywhere. Package versions are mostly the same, security updates are faster, some Ubuntu ideas (like dash) are good and upgrade procedures are usually tested by somebody ;-)

So I'd say this is a safer bet.


The only nervousness that I've had about it is that testing isn't officially security supported so sometimes security updates have been made available later than they were for stable.

Actually, that hasn't been true for a couple of years. These sources work fine and are updated frequently:

deb lenny/updates main contrib non-free

deb-src lenny/updates main contrib non-free

Just to add another vote, I've been running lenny without issue for a while now, and it's been extremely stable. Most of the changes from etch are incremental (other than new versions of packages), but the overall feel is much more polished. Also, not to rag on Ubuntu, but most of their "features" such as dash, etc. are just pulled from Debian testing/unstable.

On my Linode account, I took advantage of the fact that you can resize / clone disk images. I resized my disk down to < 1/2 of my available storage, cloned it, and did the upgrade. That way, if something went horribly wrong, I was a reboot away from having Etch back (nothing did, btw).

I'd say that testing (in general) is stable enough for most uses, IF you follow the debian-devel mailling list and keep your eyes open for big transitions. When something big happens, stop updating and give it a few weeks to re-stabilize.

Specifically regarding lenny, I think it's a safe update, but waiting a few weeks for the release notes wouldn't hurt, as previously noted.

Thanks all for your input. With the Lenny release so close (hopefully! though you never know how long those Debian perfectionists are going to take) I guess I'll wait a while before making the transition. Both Debian Etch and Ubuntu Hardy work for me now.


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