Questions on Debian

Forum: LinuxTotal Replies: 13
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Oct 23, 2012
9:56 PM EDT
So I have a question for LXer readers that use Debian on a regular basis, namely is running Sid akin to running say Slackware -current? Are the updates often drastic and broken?

I have heard many times that people often run Testing to get a more up to date desktop experience but then at the same time I have heard that when there is breakage that Sid gets the fixes quicker than Testing.

I ask as it has been quite sometime since I messed with Debian and I have a 64 bit KDE install on Testing and I am really impressed with the results. KDE with all of the effects enabled and indexing etc is hovering at 360mb of ram on my laptop which is by far the lightest KDE experience I have tested.

Thanks in advance for any pointers or thoughts.

Oct 23, 2012
10:53 PM EDT
I run Sid, and it's fine. I don't encounter broken packages very often, and it makes a nice up-to-date desktop system. I don't know how it compares to Slackware, I just like it and use it.

Oct 23, 2012
11:12 PM EDT
Can't give you any pointers, but I'm running KDE on a netbook (on an ubuntu base), and even with indexing enabled the machine runs well.With FF, Audacity and Hydrogen running it's using 505Meg of RAM, these are the apps that i run most, and usually together, so I'm pretty happy with KDE.

Oct 24, 2012
1:33 AM EDT
Sid is a bit like -current in that it is a "rolling" release with certain things frozen in time. e.g. KDE is at 4.8.4, Iceweasel (Firefox) lags unless you utilize the experimental branch and Libreoffice is not the absolute latest. Updates will become drastic when wheezy becomes stable, but for the last few years I've experienced only occasional minor issues, easily researched on various fora. I use aptosid and the major feature seems to be insanely frequent kernel updates - like 2-3 per week. Always first out of the chute when a new kernel is released. Not sure if vanilla Sid does this (I doubt it).

BTW, the least resource-intensive KDE for me is Gentoo (64-bit) at 210mb with effects - no indexing. Arch is next best at around 280mb, -current around 330mb.

Oct 24, 2012
6:48 AM EDT
As a long-time Debian user, I had the best luck running Testing as opposed to Sid. While people do run Sid without issues, they sugarcoat the fact that what happens is that packages flood into Sid in sort of a random fashion. What that means is that a newer version of package "A" might make Apt remove twenty other packages which unless one knows what one is doing will seriously bork your system. My advice is to run testing, which is fairly up-to-date (and will continue to get newer packages when Debian 7 is finally released) and enable Sid repos only to carefully select specific packages that you might want newer versions of.

Oct 24, 2012
9:22 AM EDT
Thank you all for the feedback.

One more thing I forgot to ask do most Debian users utilize aptitude or apt-get? If I am not mistaken aptitude is the preferred tool according to some Debian documentation but it looks like people use both.

Also I checked out the Debian User Forums. There was some good information to be found but wow, its like the wild west in some threads.

@Claudecat, I have heard that KDE on Gentoo is really nice, I just never managed to actually install Gentoo on my PPC machine some years back. I wish Gentoo had a small base binary install from which you could then compile everything else, sort of how FreeBSD does it.

Oct 24, 2012
12:36 PM EDT
These days both Aptitude and apt-get will get the job done just fine. Both tools are sufficiently evolved in terms of managing packages and updates.

I use Aptitude in pretty much the same way you'd use apt-get, and it works for me. The Aptitude console app -- that ncurses thing you get from typing Aptitude alone and executing that command -- still confuses me, though I do use it on occasion. For me a combination of Aptitude in the console and Synaptic in the GUI makes for a good Debian experience.

The official upgrade guide for Debian has, in the past, recommended apt or Aptitude to upgrade from one release to the next. I'm not sure what they will recommend for Squeeze-to-Wheezy. I can't remember which one I used, but it was probably Aptitude.

I've never run Sid, so I can't offer any advice on it. I generally move from Stable to Testing right before the freeze.

Oct 24, 2012
12:40 PM EDT
I always use Synaptic - even in aptosid where it is specifically warned against. I've had to fall back to apt-get on a few occasions to fix things, but only when I've neglected to read update announcements. Aptitude is just too confusing for me.

Oct 24, 2012
12:57 PM EDT
I have used both apt-get and aptitude in debian based systems (Debian itself, K/Ubuntu, Maemo, tried Mint too), and of course, synaptic (which I believe is just a front end or graphical reimplementation of apt-get). I find that, sometimes, you need aptitude to fix something that apt-get breaks, but more often that aptitude will screw things up with its default rules. Aptitude reminds me of RPM package managers, in that it tends to paint with the broad brush, dealing with packages on a meta-package level vs package and its dependencies. That sometimes gets you in trouble when you want to fine-tune what you are doing. You are more likely to get conflicts or cause more than the package you wanted to delete to be deleted with aptitude. An example of this is when trying to remove unused packages from KDE...

Oct 24, 2012
6:44 PM EDT
Quoting:I find that, sometimes, you need aptitude to fix something that apt-get breaks, but more often that aptitude will screw things up with its default rules.

Good to know. I am surprised to hear that as Debian package management is often touted as superior to many other package managers. Hearing that you use one tool to take care of some functions and another tool to take care of some other issues is strange. So basically it sounds like apt-get is more targeted with its dependencies and aptitude is less targeted. I don't use any graphical package managers as I find them rather wonky and slow. I prefer to do my package management on the command line.

Oct 24, 2012
7:07 PM EDT
I'd say both tools are very highly evolved.

Oct 24, 2012
7:10 PM EDT
As it stands right now, the official Debian instructions on how to upgrade from Squeeze to Wheezy recommend using apt-get:


The upgrade process for other releases recommended the use of aptitude for the upgrade. This tool is not recommended for upgrades from squeeze to wheezy.

Oct 25, 2012
8:56 AM EDT
The trouble with aptitude in Debian is that its default configuration is to delete all packages contained in the meta package when deleting the meta package. Apt-get defaults in deleting the meta package but not the underlying packages, which may tend to leave more junk on the system, but also allows for more modular installs,... Especially with something like KDE, where you may want to cut out kontact, etc., in favor of Evolution, or something else.

In a server environment, this shouldn't matter as much (a server should probably best be running headless, as X11 itself can be a security concern). Another thing is that many packages should probably be run not from the static repositories (Ice Weasel, LibreOffice, as examples). Rather, they should more effectively be run from their alternative PPA repositories, where more up-to-date updates can be had.

In my current server setup, I am running Kubuntu 12.04, and getting updates for several packages from their own projects instead of the K/Ubuntu repositories. Chrome, LibreOffice, OpenRemote and the Asterisk-based server will update from those respective projects. Other things will update from the repositories for stability, like; MythTV, Samba, and the KDE interface. Once configured, I'll be looking to make the server run headless (with the option to turn on Xorg, when needed, for ease of configuration).

Oct 25, 2012
4:33 PM EDT
I've run Sid for years on end, and the problems are rare and usually so big that it's a "known problem, don't update for a while".

For example, the change from Xfree86 to Xorg. Or KDE3 to KDE4.

I cannot speak to aptitude or synaptic, I use the ancient and venerable "dselect" instead. Unlike what has been said above, removing a meta-package in dselect does NOT try to delete all the packages that -it- depends upon.

That makes it much easier to delete one element of a large collection, such as taking out the Nuevo (however it's spelled) video driver will suggest removing also the "xvideo-all" meta package, since the meta package depends upon all of the drivers, but nothing else.

The only thing I can say with total certainty is that if you are running Sid, do not just automatically say "Yes" to a full upgrade. Always look through the list, see if something is being removed that you want to keep. It can happen.

But that is the ONLY problem I have had that is specific to running Sid.

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