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    Progress Towards Sarge
    Submitted by robot101 on Thursday, September 09, 2004 – 12:47
    SargeThe past month (where I must admit, Debian Planet posting has been a little lacking…) has seen much activity throughout Debian to move us closer to our planned September release of the next version of Debian’s “stable” distribution. A good measure of what’s going on is messages to debian-devel-announce explaining bug-squashing efforts, progress on debian-installer, and updates from the release team:

    • 2nd August: Steve Langasek from the release team outlines the planned schedule, and links to outstanding issues for sarge.
    • 7th August: Colin Watson from the release team announces that packages from base + standard (ie those part of the default minimum install) are frozen in testing, and will need to be updated manually when required.
    • 7th August: Joey Hess from the debian-installer team announces the 1st release candidate of the new debian-installer system, including better architecture (including s390 and amd64) & kernel 2.6 support and updated documentation & translations.
    • 11th August: Frank Lichtenheld announces Bug-Squashing week to try and focus on lowering the Release-Critical (RC) bug count in preparation for release. Cautious 3-day delayed Non-Maintainer Uploads (NMUs) are encouraged to give maintainers a chance to intervene in changes they disagree with.
    • 15th August: Jeroen van Wolffelaar unveils a site to help maintainers help the release team sift through all the uploads to unstable, and let them know what updates (not necessarily just RC bug fixes) in their packages they deem important to see in sarge before the freeze.
    • 28th August: Steve Langasek brings us up to speed with the current release status, explaining some new libraries which have transitioned to testing already, continuing toolchain problems on some architectures which are delaying the freeze (although encouraging people not to try and slip in last minute updates!), and availability of new versions of KDE (3.3, not going in to sarge) and the kernel packages (2.4.27 and 2.6.8.1, should go in if they work!).

    That brings us up to date – as you can see we’ve hit upon one or two stumbling blocks with complex library transitions and broken toolchains, but the installer looks great and the freeze should follow shortly.

    Category: News

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    Subject: sarge rocks!
    Author: simms
    Date: Friday, 2004/11/05 – 14:01
    i was a little reticent about installing sarge before it became ‘stable’, but i just loaded it on my eMachines m5312 laptop using a fresh CD (obtained via BitTorrent), and i gotta say it KICKS ASS!
    almost all my hardware was recognized during installation, and i had a beautifully functional system in under a half-hour.

    when using sarge, the major hurdle with this machine is getting the wireless network interface up and running — i had to download special ‘driver loader’ software from linuxant.com, and then load my existing windows drivers from the XP partition using a special web interface (provided with the driver loader).

    with the wireless problem solved, the only element missing from full funtionality is the software suspend function (‘hibernation’ in XP-speak) — for now, the laptop has to be halted completely when not in use, and booted again (a fairly lengthy process) for the next session.. however, i’ve read that this can be solved by patching the kernel or upgrading to a 2.6-series one with ‘swsusp’ enabled.

    also, during the boot process, i notice that the MTA exim4 takes at least a minute to load on my system, but it works in the end if you just give it a bit of patience.

    the only other caveat about the sarge installer is that a proper partition must already exist for the system to be installed — unless i missed something, the installer didn’t offer to resize my existing windows partition, so if you’re like me and a big windows partition is all you’ve got, you’ll have to resize it with some third party tool (e.g. PartitionMagic) before you can begin the install process.

    other than that: woohoo! IMHO, debian remains the most reliable and well-organized linux distro out there. keep it up!

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    Subject: Better installer please!!!
    Author: Russell
    Date: Wednesday, 2004/10/06 – 03:26
    I don’t know how you guys get by without a kickstart like installer ? Most of us don’t need a complicated and elaborate system like FAI. A simple installer that reads its answers off of a file (on a floppy for e.g.) instead of the keyboard is all we need 🙁
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    Subject: Firefox
    Author: skaeight
    Date: Wednesday, 2004/09/22 – 05:36
    Hopefully they get Firefox 1.0 in before the freeze.
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    Subject: 2yrs of stable has been good for me..
    Author: Elivs
    Date: Monday, 2004/09/13 – 09:13
    I’ve also been really happy with the two year length of debian stable.

    I’ve currently got a friend’s machine sitting on the floor beside my box. He’s been running woody with linux-2.2 and kde-2.2. Over that time he’s run konqueror, gqmpeg, galeon, kmail and a few other apps flawlessly. A couple of months ago I helped him set up downloading of photos onto the compter from his digital camera. I’ll install sarge now, let him have it for 1-2 months and decide what he wants added/changed. After that I’ll know it probably won’t need changing for another 2 years.

    Meanwhile his flatmates 2yr old windows laptop has had 1-2 viruse and heaps of spyware that needed removing.

    I run a testing/unstable mix on my desktops, but for most people having a computer that don’t change or need servicing for 2yrs are a real bonus.

    Elivs

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    Subject: september release is a pipe dream
    Author: kelt65
    Date: Friday, 2004/09/10 – 17:29
    According to the release outline, things are going very slow, since none of it’s deadlines have been met. 0 RC bugs by 12 September? I don’t think so!

    I’m greatly looking forward to sarge but I’m thinking november/december, earliest.

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    Subject: Date? No Date?
    Author: fmorelli
    Date: Saturday, 2004/10/02 – 06:56
    What I fail to understand is whether a delivery date matters to the user base or not. I suppose they do think it matters, or the Debian team would not have put a date out to the public.

    But then … when the date comes and goes … nothing is said, best as I can tell. The message is that the date didn’t really matter? I appreciate the hard work; just not sure I understand the rhyme or reason for not silence after setting expectations. It’s kind of like an Apple release … look at all the rumoring going on! 🙂

    Cheers,

    Filippo

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    Subject: something was said, just not on this site
    Author: JoeBuck
    Date: Thursday, 2004/10/07 – 18:32
    Steve Langasek issued a status update here.
    The major holdup is that, to quote Steve, “we still do not have an ETA for the testing-security autobuilders to be functional”. Calling that date N, he then suggested that things will be ready to go on N+30 days.

    If we’re lucky, we might see sarge by the end of the year.

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    Subject: KDE 3.3.3
    Author: dale
    Date: Monday, 2004/10/11 – 03:22
    It would be nice to see KDE 3.3.3 included in the next release of Debian. It is of course a bug fix release of KDE, so actually has less bugs than 3.3.2 which is currently in “Sarge”.
    I’m using 3.3.3 from “unstable” and it works fine, is more stable,
    has more features and is faster too; I can see why the KDE maintainer wants this version in.
    I suggest people try out KDE 3.3.3 from unstable and help get it ready for release, by testing and giving feedback.
    While in the past I’ve pushed for timed releases, and still agree with this, KDE is so important to the desktop if 3.3.3 can get in by
    delaying a week or two, and this will become the stable branch for the next year, then I think its worth flexing the rules.

    — Dale;

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    Subject: What’s so great about a new stable release?
    Author: mafeu
    Date: Friday, 2004/09/10 – 16:41
    I’m using Debian for about 5 years now on my private machines as well as at work. Of course it was the buzz about a new stable release that got me into Debian (was it slink?)

    However, after getting into the system’s details I now have the following opinion:

  • A stable Debian release is great for people setting up servers that are meant to run for months (years?) without touching them (set aside security updates)
  • I doubt that users who sit in front of their machines can get along with their system from one stabel release to the next one. Everybody probably started his Debian career with a set of (stable) installation disks but sooner or later tried some packages out of testing. After a while it’s just a small step to completely migrate to testing especialy since Debian provides such elegant tools as the apt system for doing so.
  • The unstable collection is for the daring who don’t care for all the rules a package needs to fulfill in order to plunge into testing and – well – for developers. I found it safe to try some unstabel packages once in a while and if it fails, hey, you always can downgrade. I doubt that there is any need for running a complete system on solely unstable packages other than developing Debian itself.
  • Currently I have the following mix on my machine
    ### 57 packets from unstable (57 uptodate / 0 upgradeable)
    ### 1728 packets from testing (1728 uptodate / 0 upgradeable)
    ### 68 packets from stable (68 uptodate / 0 upgradeable)
    and I almost never have any problems.

    I am using Debian, i.e. I’m not into developing Debian and I don’t have an overview about all technical aspects of the distribution. So I’m getting back to the subject line, which is realy meant as a question:

    How does the average debian user profit from a stable release?

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    Subject: Might be a good idea to stabilize a release
    Author: nalaregeork
    Date: Monday, 2004/09/27 – 04:25
    Get a stable release out and people can take it to there Director or VP and say why bother with Redhat this one is better and customizable. It isn’t the regular user that needs convicing but, the corporate beancounter who is worried about what there superiors and competitors are going to say about there decisions.
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    Subject: how does the average debian user profit from a stable release?
    Author: simms
    Date: Monday, 2004/09/13 – 19:23
    plenty.
    i’ve been stubbornly sticking to a strictly ‘stable’ installation on my web/mail/file server, and it’s rewarded me with three-plus years of 100% uptime (minus the occasional power failure), which is simply BRILLIANT, even if it means slightly older package versions and featuresets. i was even able to do a flawless potato->woody upgrade remotely, from the command line, when the new ‘stable’ (i.e. woody) came out last year, again without a hitch (or even a reboot).

    given the above you’ll understand that i’ve been patiently waiting for another smooth ‘stable’ upgrade.. debian rules!

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    Subject: user/admin
    Author: wouter@jabber.org
    Date: Monday, 2004/09/13 – 00:40
    I am both a (personal) desktop user and a (professional) administrator.

    I run Debian unstable on my main desktop, because I like to have the most recent versions of packages. Sometimes, I discover bugs in those packages themselves or the software contained in them, and I report them respectively to the Debian maintainer or the developers of the software. In my opinion, Debian unstable is not unstable at all, for an occasional glitch in an installation script (which you either can fix yourself, or find a quick fix in the bug tracking system).

    So, unstable can be used easily on a desktop system, even if you’re not a Debian developer.

    I am also a system administrator, and part of our machines run Debian stable (the others FreeBSD). A stable environment is obviously very necessary, as most servers -especially colocated- can’t be down, not even ‘just a while to upgrade’ or ‘to fix some problems since last upgrade’. So having a stable and quite static distribution is very important, too. And the average user benefits from this by having the servers they use in a good working state.

    Now, for Debian stable on a desktop… If I were to install a Debian system for my parents, my girlfriends parents, or further along those lines, I would have to take in consideration that they are not going to update anything, and even when they would, they would not like the sudden changes in their software (perhaps they even need my intervention, sigh) or even just the time it takes to download lots of packages, possibly over a phoneline.

    I would argue that Debian stable releases have a bit too much time in between, which makes it hard again to upgrade some software and be sure that everything is still compatible (but I’m sure everybody’s aware of Debian stable’s slowness); but a slow update path is necessary because many people don’t want or can’t upgrade their servers and desktops. It’s not so much that the release itself is profitable; it’s that updating in certain situations just isn’t doable.

    And I don’t think there is an “average Debian user”. A high availability system is pretty far from granny’s computer, yet they both might run Debian. 🙂

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    Subject: Stable on desktop
    Author: vieira
    Date: Sunday, 2004/10/31 – 16:40
    I am somewhat tired of reading “unstable/testing for my laptop and stable for my servers”.
    I do use stable on my desktop. It’s not that I don’t care about old apps. It’s just I don’t want to bother updating and upgrading my system all the time. It consumes time that I’d rather spend on the beach, or studying, or coding, etc.

    The fact is that Debian stable is a system that pratically manages itself, barely requiring a sysadmin. It’s designed for the user to use the tools, not to keep setting them up.

    By the way, I’m going to install stable for my girlfriend this week…

    I agree with wouter when he says there’s no average Debian user. Even those accessing a Debian server through another OS can considered Debian users.

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    Subject: Stable on desktop
    Author: olivier.saugeon
    Date: Tuesday, 2004/12/14 – 09:18
    I completly agree with you. Even if my job is programming, when I’m back home I like to have my computer running without having to fix some buggy config file.
    I formely tried many other Linux distro and also Debian testing but I prefer Debian stable because it’s realy a stable distro and not just a collection of stable software : I mean that having stable software do not mean that the whole distro will be stable and I think that’s what make Debian stable different from other Linux distro.
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    Subject: Stable *is* important – not for my laptop but for my servers
    Author: stepheng
    Date: Saturday, 2004/09/11 – 16:22
    I personally have benefited a whole heap from Debian stable. I have a bunch of servers used by my lab (structural biology) that I set up a couple of years ago (3?) which are still going strong. The big benefit of stable is that once machines are set up they need next-to-no maintenance (asides, of course, from the odd security patch) and they form a very solid stable computing environment. People do not log onto these machines with X, they are just grunt machines for scientific calculations. In this environment Debian stable is perfect – install and (pretty much) forget.

    Sure, on my laptop I run Debian testing, but on the big machines that matter I would never dream of running with anything but stable. There is a lot to be said for an environment you can trust to be secure and stable.

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    Subject: don’t be a dweeb
    Author: kelt65
    Date: Friday, 2004/09/10 – 17:32
    the stable release is a very big deal. Some debian users are perfectly content to put up with brokeness in sid/testing, but most linux users are NOT.

    Try introducing debian testing at your workplace with no security updates and possible major system breakage. Not.

    You have a developers perspective, which is fine, but you need to realize most people have other needs – stability.

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    Subject: trying not to be a dweeb
    Author: balder
    Date: Thursday, 2004/09/16 – 03:36
    I run a 64 CPU cluster, a few servers, and lab of computers for a bioinformatics research facility. Each of these run Debian Sarge/testing. All of these are updated weekly, and it takes me less than one hour. That includes updating the tripwire databases on each workstation/server. For security updates, I simply download the new package from unstable and use dpkg. It is a very rare occation that I need to deal with brokeness, and the vast majority of that is simply from my paranoid perspective on things. The time spent upgrading the systems is negligable: I upgrade one machine, answer all the debconf questions then send the selections + debconf DB to each other machine, where the upgrades are done without any interaction.

    My perspective: stable for things such as simple servers (dns, web, email, etc) which can deal with fairly antiquated software, as its generally only the X11 programs which are old; sarge for just-about-everything else; sid for Debian developers.

    If it really takes you a significant amount of time (other than downloading the packages) to upgrade a number of machines, you need to redo your upgrade method, since that’s probably what your having issues with. No, `apt-get update && apt-get upgrade` doesn’t really work for 5+ machines.

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    Subject: 5+ machines
    Author: Elivs
    Date: Thursday, 2004/09/16 – 07:25
    >I upgrade one machine, answer all the debconf questions then send the selections + debconf DB to each other machine, where the upgrades are done without any interaction.

    Have you got links, or any other pointers to how to do this?

    Elivs

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    Subject: Update of multiple machines
    Author: balder
    Date: Thursday, 2004/09/16 – 17:56
    There’s a couple ways to do it. The simplest is to login to one machine:
    apt-get update
    apt-get upgrade

    then scp /var/cache/debconf/config.dat to each host. To get all the packages in sync, get the list of packages:
    dpkg –get-selections > packages

    send that file to each machine and run:
    dpkg –set-selections < packages Then update all the others. I use dsh to do most of this:
    dpkg –get-selections | dsh -c -i -g workstation dpkg –set-selections
    dsh -c -g workstation apt-get update
    dsh -c -g workstation apt-get upgrade

    to run on each machine.

    However, if there are any entries in /var/cache/debconf/passwords.dat you might want to send that, or you’ll have to enter those manually, usually a workstation wont have any. This will keep all the debconf settings the same.

    Or, what I do, is use an nfs mount to share a PackageDir debconf database( see debconf.conf(5) for details) which is RO on all but one machine.

    Also, you’ll need to edit /etc/dpkg/dpkg.cfg and add the lines:
    force-confdef
    force-confold

    which will prevent overwriting of changed conffiles. Otherwise, you’ll end up being prompt for what to do when updates are needed. There may be a couple things I’m missing, but thats the gist of it.

    Some day I’ll write up a decent page for this…

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    Subject: Package Caching / NFS root
    Author: mafeu
    Date: Monday, 2004/09/20 – 16:17
    In such a scenario it might help to set up one of the package caching tools like apt-proxy. Especialy when on a slow uplink to the internet.

    Another solution would be a central root directory on a (NFS) server and mounting this (read only) root directory on all clients.

    Advantages:

    • You only have to update “one” machine, i.e. the root directory on the server

    Disatvantages:

    • Needs some initial setup, especialy if the client’s hardware differes a lot
    • You need a fast internal network and even then you have a lower performance for file access (caching network filesystems like Coda might show better performance)
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    Subject: Thanks!
    Author: hazelsct
    Date: Sunday, 2004/09/19 – 15:51
    Very neat! When you write the how-to, please put it on the Wiki.

    -Adam P.

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    Subject: Thanks
    Author: Elivs
    Date: Friday, 2004/09/17 – 14:10
    🙂
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    Subject: Hear, hear!
    Author: hazelsct
    Date: Sunday, 2004/09/12 – 21:47
    I agree completely. I run a small research group with about ten workstations, and have better things to do with my time than to sit and upgrade each of them every few days. Let alone worry about whether security updates will be timely (as they are with stable), or whether the system will break unexpectedly. Or just not be polished, like GNOME 2.0 or 2.2. Let alone retraining, reconfiguring custom software to run in the new environments, and other adjustments.

    Yes, two years is just about fine for us, though it may not be for lone developers. So use unstable, or go get Gentoo. But it’s hard to imagine any organization with tens of users, let alone hundreds or thousands, wanting to do this more frequently.

    Looking forward to sarge,

    -Adam P.

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    Subject: So when will it happen *really*?
    Author: matthijs
    Date: Thursday, 2004/09/09 – 19:09
    I’m really looking forward to sarge. When I first started using Debian I was upgrading weekly. I’ve always used testing, never unstable. But now I haven’t upgraded in quite a while. It’s getting scary the number of packages that apt wants to upgrade. I just don’t feel like doing it, not in the last place because things are getting bigger mostly and I’m really low on free space on /. I’m looking forward to runnning stable and hardly ever needing to update.

    Anyone bold enough to do a prediction when sarge will come out? I haven’t really looked into it all, but my gut feeling is that they are not going to make a september release.

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    Subject: probably october
    Author: kromagg
    Date: Thursday, 2004/09/09 – 20:53
    I’ve got my money set on somewhere around 15 october. I’m like 99% sure it won’t be september. 🙂
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    Subject: this year?
    Author: niet
    Date: Wednesday, 2004/09/15 – 14:37
    15. october, but what year ? }:-]
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