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Getting started w/ Debian

Drew Taylor <drew at> writes:

> Brendan wrote:
>> On Tuesday 20 July 2004 10:27, Drew Taylor wrote:
>>>So I'm looking more for thoughts that might help a (Debian) newbie. I've
>>>been using RedHat for years, so I'm no stranger to Linux. Any gotchas,
>>>important hints, etc that might be specific to Debian are appreciated.
>> Debian is going to be insanely weird if you have been using Red Hat
>> with no exposure to up2date, yum, apt4rpm, etc.
> 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.

If you stick with Debian, you will find that using the packaging system
is much more convenient than building from source.

>> Keep a good /etc/apt/sources.list, because this is your system's
>> world. It won't look anywhere else for updates/software than here,
>> really.
>> Tips (at least from me): for a desktop, stick with unstable, and for a
>> server, I have done well with stable/testing.
> 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? 

Testing is the next stable, which should become the next stable RSN.


> I really want to play with the 2.6 kernel if that makes a difference.

Then you will need testing or unstable.

>> A good /etc/apt/sources.list for my unstable system at work:
>> deb unstable main contrib non-free
>> deb-src unstable main contrib non-free
>> # the non-US Debian packages.  Uncomment the deb-src line if you
>> # want 'apt-get source' to work with non-US packages.
>> deb unstable/non-US main contrib non-free
> Thanks for the list of sources. I'll check them out this week.

Err, don't bother unless you want to download everything from Austria.

  deb unstable main contrib non-free
  deb-src unstable main contrib non-free


>> I run an apt-get update everyday to keep current, and sometimes, I
>> check out apt-get upgrade to see what's going to upgrade. It's dorky,
>> but it keeps the good times rolling.
> Are there many changes on a day-to-day basis? 

In stable?  No (Hence, "stable").

In unstable?  Yes.  That's where daily development happens (hence,

Testing is sort of a toned down unstable in terms of updates, since
packages have to meet some criteria before they can move down from
unstable to testing.

> 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...

But it can be a giant pain, depending on how you look at it, because
upgrading from one stable release to the next is huge and complicated.
You're making a jump 

Personally, I use unstable for everything, and many sysadmins who are
much more experienced and respected than myself do the same.  Despite
the scary name, there are actually some major advantages to only
sticking with unstable.  See:

You win again, gravity!

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