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Getting started w/ Debian

On Tue, Jul 20, 2004 at 11:24:54AM -0400, Drew Taylor wrote:
> Honestly, I didn't even use rpm a lot - preferring to compile everything 
> from source. Maybe it's because I like more control over the system 
> layout, but that is neither here nor there. I'm happy to learn whatever 
> I need.

The Debian Way is to always use the packaging system. If you
need to install something that hasn't been packaged, either
doing the package yourself or inserting a placeholder entry into
the packaging database is good form.

> I understand there are different sources for updates, and differing 
> levels of "stability". This will be a server (although via a surplus 
> desktop), so stable/testing sounds good. What is the difference between 
> the two? I really want to play with the 2.6 kernel if that makes a 
> difference.

There are four simultaneous distributions:
stable: 2.2 or 2.4 kernel, everything works. Suitable for production. Security
  fixes are issued immediately. Applications do not upgrade
  except for bugfixes.

unstable: 2.6 kernel. Development happens here. No stability is
implied. The packages may not work with each other. Unless you
are a developer, don't use this. You may get security fixes as a
side effect of constant package churn.

testing: 2.4 or 2.6 kernel. When a package has been in unstable
for 10 days with no major bugs filed against it, it can be
promoted to testing. This is often the best choice for a
workstation where you want to learn and get things done at the
same time.

experimental: like unstable, but worse. If it isn't even ready
for unstable, it may go in experimental.

> Are there many changes on a day-to-day basis? The impression I've gotten 
> of Debian is that they are much more conservative about releases, 
> preferring to remain behind the curve. Although that's not necessarily a 
> bad thing for servers...

Stable doesn't change, except for bugfixes and security fixes.
Unstable is a constantly changing target.
Testing changes unpredictably, sometimes quickly, sometimes


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