From: Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com>
Subject: Re: what version?
Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.setup
Organization: If you lived here, you'd be $HOME already.
User-Agent: tin/1.7.6-20040906 ("Baleshare") (UNIX) (Linux/2.4.27-2-686 (i686))
Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2005 18:51:11 -0400

[Name and address redacted] wrote:

> Debian has a little issue that the latest versions of tools you may
> need are in "testing", but the "stable" is often rather out of date,
> so you can wind up having to pick and choose and hand-manage updates
> versus a "testing" release moving target. That can be an adventure.

Attempting to add packages from "testing" into a machine tracking Debian's "stable" branch is a common beginner's error, and an excellent way to screw up your system. The packaging system isn't designed to support that sort of frankensteining of two tracks with such an extremely wide versioning gulf between them, and to attempt it is to solve the wrong problem.

People determined to stubbornly cling to Debian's "stable" track should use, instead, the backports.org collections — or leave their machines alone — or do the sensible thing and put the entire machine onto the "testing" track rather than frankensteining it. Or use Ubuntu.

If anyone advised you to do otherwise, that person was very badly informed — and was giving out really bad advice.

My own server and desktop systems tend to track either testing with optional access to unstable-track packages, or follow unstable.

> Me, I'm comfortable with OS's that have more frequent releases and test
> software updates against those releases: I've had good success with RedHat
> for servers.

The notion that "releases" are somehow vital is an error commonly put forward by people not acquainted with gradually-moving tracks such as Debian-testing and Debian-unstable. Please see: "Releases Unimportant" on http://linuxmafia.com/kb/Debian/ .

Moreover, the people stating it are invariably ignorant of Debian's point-releases for the stable branch, e.g.:

[snip table, recreated and expanded below]

These have been the standardised Official Debian installation CD image releases, as announced on the debian-cd and debian-release mailing lists and sold by CD vendors.

(Surprised? Well, that's because you posted misinformation for lack of acquaintance with the subject.)

Not that it's significant, but I'll point out that those releases have been (generally) significantly more frequent than Red Hat's, whose dates I track here: "RH Releases" on http://linuxmafia.com/kb/RedHat

-- 
Cheers,                 "Due to circumstances beyond our control, we regret to
Rick Moen               inform you that circumstances are beyond our control."
rick@linuxmafia.com                                              --Paul Benoit


Debian Releases

Because early Debian Project Leader Bruce Perens worked at Pixar Studios, makers of the animated film "Toy Story", Debian branches adopted the convention of bearing nicknames taken from characters in that movie (and, eventually, its sequels).

Track name "stable" within the Debian packaging system also resolves to whatever is the release branch at any given time. It is implemented as a symlink within the package mirror network, that is relinked to each new release on the day the Debian release manager declares it production-ready.



Version    Released     Name    Notes
0.01-0.090 1993-08 to   none    Public developer releases.  i386-only.
           1993-12
0.91       1994-01      none    Public developer release.  
                                Primitive pkg system w/dependencies.  A "few 
                                dozen" developers, but most release work was 
                                still being done by founder Ian Murdock 
                                personally.
0.93r5     1995-03      none    First "modern" release including Ian Murdock's 
                                dpkg tool.
0.93r6     1995-10-26   none    Last release to be based on the a.out (pre-ELF)
                                binary format.  Introduced dselect package tool.
                                First multi-architecture release (adding m68k).
                                About 60 developers.
1.0        N/A          N/A     Never released, to avoid confusion with a CD 
                                vendor's buggy "1.0" unofficial release.
1.1        1996-06-17   Buzz    First production release.  Fully ELF-based, 
                                Linux 2.0.x kernel, 474 packages.  "Buzz" was 
                                astronaut Buzz Lightyear, in "Toy Story".
1.2        1996-12-12   Rex     848 packages, 120 developers.  "Rex" was the 
                                dinosaur.
1.3        1997-06-02   Bo      974 packages, 200 developers.  "Point" releases 
                                start, and run through 1.3.1r6 for "Bo".  "Bo" 
                                was Little Bo Peep shepherdess.
2.0        1998-07-24   Hamm    First version based on glibc2 (then called 
                                Linux libc6).  1500+ packages, 400+ developers.
                                "Hamm" was the piggybank.  
2.1r1      1999-03-09   Slink   Introduced the "apt" high-level pkg toolset.  
                                About 2250 packages.  Four supported CPU 
                                architectures, adding SPARC and DEC Alpha.  
                                Port to HURD kernel introduced.  "Slink" was 
                                the Slinky dachshund.
2.1r2      1999-06-27 
2.1r3      1999-09-04
2.1r4      1999-12-12
2.1r5      2000-02-16
2.2r0      2000-08-15   Potato  Six architectures, adding PowerPC and ARM.  
                                3900+ binary packages, 2600+ source packages.  
                                "Potato" was Mr. Potato Head.
2.2r1      2000-11-12
2.2r2      2000-12-05
2.2r3      2001-04-17
2.2r4      2001-11-05
2.2r5      2002-01-10
2.2r6      2002-04-03
2.2r7      2002-07-13
3.0r0      2002-07-19   Woody   Eleven architectures, adding IA-64, HP PA-RISC,
                                MIPS, DEC MIPSEL, and IBM S/390.  8500 
                                packages, 900+ developers.  Crypto software 
                                merged into main archive.  Support for 23
                                languages.  Major mirror restructuring 
                                ("package pools") in Oct 2000 to save 
                                space and permit programmatically populated
                                branches such as "testing".  "Woody" was the 
                                cowboy ("Cowboy Woody") from fictional 1950s
                                TV show "Woody's Roundup".
3.0r1      2002-12-16
3.0r2      2003-11-21
3.0r3      2004-10-26
3.0r4      2005-01-01
3.0r5      2005-04-16
3.0r6      2005-06-02
3.1r0      2005-06-06   Sarge   Still eleven architectures, but unofficial 
                                AMD64 port added.  15,000 packages, 1500+
                                developers, 40 languages.  Added 2.6 kernels.  
                                Switched from boot-floppies to modular d-i 
                                ("Debian installer") installation program.  
                                Adopted aptitude as recommended high-level 
                                package tool.  "Sarge" was the sergeant of 
                                the green Bucket O Soldiers men (G.I. Joe 
                                figures).
3.1r1      2005-12-20
3.1r2      2006-04-19
3.1r3      2006-09-01
3.1r4      2006-11-06
3.1r5      2007-02-18
3.1r6      2007-04-07
3.1r7      2007-12-28
3.1r8      2008-04-13           Final 3.1 point release.
4.0r0      2007-04-08   Etch    Added AMD64 as an official release target and
                                dropped m68k.  18,200 packages, 1030+
                                developers.  Added graphical installer.  
                                Switched from XFree86 to X.org.  Adopted
                                udev device architecture.  "Etch" was
                                the Etch-A-Sketch.
4.0r1      2007-08-16
4.0r2      2007-12-27
4.0r3      2008-02-17
4.0r4                           "Etch And A Half".  Introduced expanded 
                                hardware support through optional packages.
4.0r5      2008-10-24
4.0r6      2008-12-18
4.0r7      2009-02-10
4.0r8      2009-04-08
4.0r9      2010-05-23           Final 4.0 point release.
5.0.0      2009-02-14   Lenny   Drops 32-bit SPARC.  Includes nearly full
                                UTF-8 charset support.  Adds "armel" port,
                                replacing "arm".  Adds support for Marvell
                                Orion storage devices, several netbooks.
                                Adds Emdebian build tools.  KDE 3.5.10,
                                GNOME, 2.22.2, Xfce 4.4.2, LXDE 0.3.2.1,
                                X.Org 7.3, OO.o 2.4.1, Iceweasel (Firefox)
                                3.0.6.  "Lenny" was the pair of wind-up
                                walking binoculars.
5.0.1      2009-04-12
5.0.2      2009-06-27
5.0.3      2009-09-05
5.0.4      2010-01-30 
5.0.5      2010-06-26
5.0.6      2010-09-04
5.0.7      2010-11-28
5.0.8      2011-01-22
5.0.9      2011-10-06
5.0.10     2012-03-10
6.0.0      2011-02-06   Squeeze Drops alpha, hppa, old-ABI ARM.  Adds 
                                kfreebsd kernel option/architecture for
                                i386 and AMD64.  Substitutes eglibc for
                                glibc.  Introduces parallelised,
                                dependency-based init.  Kernel non-free
                                firmware BLOBs removed to an optional 
                                package.  Removes oldlibs, e.g.,
                                GTK+/GLib 1.2.  Fixes LFS support in 
                                remaining apps.  Full IPv6 support.  
                                GRUB2 and Python 2.6 defaults.
                                Adds support for new source package
                                formats, starting with 3.0 (quilt).
                                "Squeeze" was the three-eyed alien 
                                (actually, a group of them) at a pizza 
                                restaurant in Toy Story and Toy Story 2.
6.0.1      2011-03-19
6.0.2      2011-06-27
6.0.3      2011-11-08
6.0.4      2012-01-28
6.0.5      2012-05-12
6.0.6      2012-09-29
6.0.7      2013-02-23
7.0.0      2013-05-04           Removes old libraries.  Adds multiarch,
                                private-cloud tools.  Improved installer.
                                Complete set of multimedia codecs.  Adds UEFI
                                support on amc64 arch, but no integrated 
                                support for UEFI Secure Boot, yet.
                                Wheezy was the asthmatic rubber toy penguin 
                                with a red bow tie.

Announcements of releases can be found on the debian-announce and debian-news mailing lists.


Debian Pending Releases, Point Releases, and Non-Release Branches

"unstable":

Active Debian development occurs in a continuously rolling (non-release) track called "unstable", which is permanently assigned Toy Story branch name "Sid" (Sidney Phillips), the name of the film's neighbour boy who destroyed and tortured toys. Any new or updated package unloaded by a Debian developer becomes immediately available in master package mirror site directory tree "sid" (symlink "unstable") as compiled and packaged by the project's automated build hosts.

"sid" also houses CPU architectures not officially supported but planned to be integrated later.

"testing":

Since 2000, a separate continuously rolling track called "testing", implemented as another symlink in the master package mirror tree has existed that has two roles: Most of the time, it is programmatically defined by a nightly maintenance script on the master package mirror that adds to its package collection any newly uploaded packages in "unstable" if any only if they pass a set of automated quality-testing criteria. (Thus, it functions as a quarantining script.) However, when the Debian Release Manager is preparing for a new "stable" release, he/she manually intervenes with some of that script's operations to enforce desired contents, e.g., holding libc at a desired release level. Around that time, the "testing" contents are given a symlinked version number in the master package mirror's directory structure, as testing branch "wheezy" will receive the Debian7.0.0 symlink. When he/she considers a "testing" collection fully ready to become the new "stable" release, the "stable" symlink gets repointed to that set of files, and a new rolling "testing" branch is started, gaining that symlink.

Version    Released     Name    Note
8.0        (TBA)        Jessie  Current "testing" branch.  Features are 
                                in an early stage (a/o 2013-05) but may
                                include glibc 2.17, kernel 3.8.11, 
                                gcc 4.8.1, binutils 2.23.2
                                libraries.  Adds multiarch.  Jessie was
                                the yodeling cowgirl.

"point releases":

Between full releases, each "stable" release gets re-released up to seven (going by past cycles) additional times, to merge in security updates, kernel/driver improvements to support newer hardware, and critical bug-fixes. Thus, the current "stable" release of Wheezy/7.0 at this writing (09 May 2013) is actually Debian7.0.0, the first Wheezy release, and the 'oldstable' release of Squeeze/6.0 is actually Debian6.0.6. Each point release is Official Debian, and has its own set of stable packages, CD images, and DVD images -- for each officially supported architecture.

"experimental":

Because all 1000+ Debian developers are expected to normally keep their systems synchronised frequently to the "unstable" branch, it's deemed bad to upload broken packages to there, even briefly. So, the "experimental" package collection exists as an upload targets for developers' "highly experimental software where there's a good chance that the software could break your system, or software that's just too unstable even for the unstable distribution (but there is a reason to package it nevertheless".

Other "Toy Story" Names:

There are quite a few others, mostly less prominent.