Stable Before It\’s Stable



Debian stable tends to be ancient. With Debian “sarge” just around the corner, the “testing” disto has become even more solid than it usually is. For production systems, a traditional (but aging) “stable” distribution is great. Only proven and rock solid components can be found in “stable.” The problem with “stable” is that it gets stale. It’s been almost three years since “woody” (the current “stable” release) came out. “Woody” is just getting tired. Apache 1.3.x and other tried and true packages just don’t do it for me anymore.

I joke with my fellow geeks that Debian “testing” (and often even “unstable”) is more stable for desktop use than many other distros. I tend to keep a “testing” desktop, as it seems to hold a good balance between the bleeding edge and stagnation. But “testing” just isn’t always good enough for production environments. For this, we need something more stable.

I’m just getting ready to commission a Debian box for semi-production use, and I’ve decided to replace my normal “stable” or “testing” entries in /etc/apt/sources.list with “sarge.” My reasoning is that for now it’s somewhere between “testing” and “stable” (we’re in release candidate territory here), but once it becomes “stable” it will remain fresh enough for my tastes for quite some time. I’ll be happy with Apache2+Dav+Subversion+other goodies that I’ve come to rely on from “testing.” At the same time, it will stabalize in the very near future and allow me to keep it in production as a “stable” box.

This is just something for people getting ready to deploy Debian-based servers in the near future to think about. If you reference “sarge” in place of “stable,” “testing,” or “unstable,” you can have the best of both worlds. You’re running “stable” before it’s “stable.”


7 responses to “Stable Before It\’s Stable”

  1. Brian Avatar

    I tend to run woody on my production boxes, but with backports of various apps from sarge. Here’s /etc/apt/sources.list from one of my prod servers:

    deb stable main contrib non-free
    deb stable/non-US main contrib non-free
    deb stable/updates main contrib non-free
    deb woody apache2 subversion mysql-dfsg cvs rsync

  2. Matt Croydon Avatar

    Nice! Thanks for the tip. I’ve also had pretty decent success running a stable distro with a few things poached from testing. The prereqs get ugly sometimes and I think that your solution is a lot more elegant for a production enviroment.

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  4. Nikolas Avatar

    Sweet 🙂

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