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Distribution Unstability

Hi everyone, I have a couple of questions in regards to unstable distributions like Arch Linux or Debian Unstable.
  1. Is there anything you can do to test a package before you install it to check and see if that package would wreck your system?
  2. Are there any warning signs that can point out unstable packages?
  3. Does the unstability of packages vary?

Comments

  • setkehsetkeh Administrator
    Well FTR

    Archlinux is not Unstable its Rolling release (Bleeding Edge) Debian unstable is unstable because its the unstable untested / testing Branch of the Debian Distro these are two very very different Release States.

    Though some time packages require user intervention in Archlinux you very seldom have System Breakage because of one single package going wrong.

    They warning signs something might go wrong are "pacman -Syu"

    Packages can change things on there own Accord its not up to the distro Developers what a packages changes and how that can affect system operation.

    Archlinux is a Stable distro if used and maintained well.
    I have been using it for 10+ Years with verry little issues exept for my own screw ups
    hope this helps :D



    Wisdom:

    One does not Simply Deploy into Production.

  • pdqpdq Administrator
    I can't say much for Debian but for Arch Linux...

    In Arch Linux partial upgrades are not supported, what this means is that Arch Linux (your Operating System) expects of you, the end user, to maintain their system, meaning to apply updates often (usually at least daily). Much like a pet who isn't fed or given any attention, if you do not keep your system up to date and do not update for extended periods of time (many weeks) your system can easily become difficult to manage or even break due to neglect.

    Never install any packages without 1st running your Update command (sudo pacman -Syu) and applying all available updates.

    It is probably a good idea to always check the Arch Linux front page News section before you apply ANY Updates.

    As for your specific questions GeniusWalrus...
    1. Is there anything you can do to test a package before you install it to check and see if that package would wreck your system?
    2. Are there any warning signs that can point out unstable packages?
    3. Does the unstability of packages vary?

    1. You can check the Arch Linux home page for Recent News items or even visit their forums and check the latest posts. But In my experience I have never seen a package that wrecked mine or someone elses system. It would be a very rare occurence for a package to actually break functionality and I've never heard of anything like that. :)

    2. Packages that are in the Arch repos are thoroughly tested and are stable upstream packages, no different than other Linux distributions packages other than perhaps the versions. As for packages from the AUR which may be less stable or even broken, you can read the comments for each package on the AUR website or else you could use an AUR helper like yaourt which shows the comments in the console when you are installing a package. :)

    3. I would say all the packages are very stable in Arch repos in terms of them working and not being buggy or broken. They are basically just the stable upstream packages but there are 2 definitions of stability, the other refers to how stable (unchanging) something is. Since Arch Linux constantly pushes out updates and expects the end User to be applying these updates it's very unstable in this regard as it is constantly changing. This does not mean it is buggy or things break it just means that software is constantly being rotated with the latest version when it becomes available. Also if you do run into an issue running the latest version of something, you can always downgrade a package to a previously working version until such time as the next update for that package comes out with the fix. :)

    * Running a system like Arch Linux is a learning process and can be very rewarding in this regard, by introducing the various elements of the Operating System and how you must read parts of the wiki, configure the odd file and run commands during the install and setup. This removes a lot of the fear and apprehension people may have of the unknown and one learns how to handle any issues if they do arise in the future OR at least you will have some knowledge and not be scared if X stops working after a update. :)

    :]

    Admin at Linux Distro Community, humble slave of LGC & lurker at GOL. [GitHub, Twitter, Steam]

  • Debian's testing branch is called "testing" because they are testing packages for the next stable release. The packages in testing will change often, and there are often breakages between packages, up and until the time that Debian "freezes" the packages, then they work on bug fixes. The packages are usually rock solid by then, and the testing branch then becomes the stable branch. Before I update a system based on debian testing, especially if they are pulling directly from the debian repos, I usually patrol the forums looking for problems. When there is a problem, its usually cleaned up very quickly, often within hours. You'll want to be comfortable at the command line though in the event that an update breaks X.

    With Debian, if you are worried about breakage, stick with the stable distros. You can always change your repositories to "testing" if you want a newer program, and then change them back to stable after your install. There is also a backports repository that packages many newer programs (especially mozilla stuff) for the current stable branch. This is a good time for Debian stable, as it only recently was released.

    Problems I've seen lately with debian testings updates: gtk3 breakages, and some issues with xorg.
  • I've been running sid for the past couple weeks and haven't had even a hint of an issue. But it largely depends on what you do I guess

    Sent from my LG-VM696 using Tapatalk 2
  • binbin Registered
    You might want to take a look at either Manjaro for Arch with a protective packaging layer through their own repos
    For Debian take a look at SolydKX - again based on testing but with controlled releases of updates.
  • One thing I don't like about Debian is even it's unstable packages aren't always the latest. Look at their packages for Mumble. None of Debian's branches has mumble 1.2.4 which I know is the latest version.
  • retroretro Registered
    Hi everyone, I have a couple of questions in regards to unstable distributions like Arch Linux or Debian Unstable.
    1. Is there anything you can do to test a package before you install it to check and see if that package would wreck your system?
    2. Are there any warning signs that can point out unstable packages?
    3. Does the unstability of packages vary?

    This was an interesting post...
    I currently use Siduction as well as Aptosid (deb unstable), and previously ran Arch (rolling) for about 2 years (stopped soon after they started signing packages, you guys remember that?).
    In my experience, Arch broke only twice, an Xorg issue (actually an ATI driver type issue) and a pacman databse issue. Siduction and Aptosid each broke once, Siduction a cups issue and Aptosid a recursive dependency issue. (all minor problems)
    Ironically, one of the fun things about running a bleeding edge distro is it's unstable nature.
    A challenge (or learning opportunity) could happen at any time, be it few and far between.
    The unstable nature is why we run those distros and IMHO, I would rather fix a problem after the fact than detect it prior to happening.
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