Comments and Views on Using Debian Testing


Ive been using Freedombox for almost a year and have been very happy so far.

With the recent update to Bookworm, I decided to see how FBX and Debian Testing would work. I went ahead and did a fresh install of FBX - Debian Testing on my Raspi4B.

For the last month, all my apps and system has been working just fine. My only issue is that auto updates are not working and I have to do them manually.

Yesterday, after a manuel update to the latest FBX version (23.13), I noticed there were 420 packages waiting to be updated. I took another risk and went ahead with apt upgrade. So far Im having no issues (except for a minor problem in Roundcube).

At the end of the day, I have come to questioning why I would need to use Testing? As far as I can see, everything works fine with Stable and Im more in a hassle to do manual updates than letting the server just be.

Am I missing something? Id really appreciate if there is anyone using FBX on Testing to share their experience on some of the pros and cons they are facing along with any tips theyd like to share on updates and overall use.

Thanks and best.

It will probably be fine. At the end of the stable life cycle your packages are rather out of date, but in exchange I suppose you get a better patch and security update program on the stable release. My Freedombox is not my interactive desktop, so I’m happy to run out the clock on stable versions.

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I see no reason to use testing unless a package of stable that you are using is missing a feature that you absolutely want.

Sorry but I don’t live in an English speaking context, I looked up dictionaries that give explanations about sports on “run out the clock” but that remains unclear to me and I still can’t figure out what you mean, e.g. are you using stable or are you using testing?

To “Run out the clock” in this context likely means to stay in the current stable version for as long as it is supported, then upgrade to the next stable when comfortable or when support ends for current version.

By converse, the exact opposite strategy would be to upgrade to the next version as soon as it is available.

Sorry @Avron, that is an American sports idiom.

What I mean is that the Debian stable packages for bullseye were far out of date when the bookworm upgrade arrived. Generally, I can use those for the entire release lifecycle, but by the end of bullseye some packages (searx) were getting to be a problem because they were so old. I also use Freedombox on a server with no keyboard or display - I never log in. Because of this all I need to be happy is for the services to work.

Here are the options as I see them:

  • Stable has security updates and fixes, but package versions change slowly. Stable is stable, and this is what I prefer.
  • Stable + Backports will get you some newer versions of Debian packages which come from Testing but are built for Stable. A little more risk than stable. You get this when you enable frequent feature updates in Freedombox. (I use this, too).
  • Testing will get updated packages more often than with backports. There would be a little more risk using this compared to Stable + Backports.
  • Unstable will evolve quickly and have the highest risk. I understand that packages may be broken on unstable from time to time. It’s okay to use this as long as you know what you’re getting, but I’ve never tried it.
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Tried 5 months on Freedombox Testing…

At the end of the day, I found that apart from getting the plinth updates sooner than everyone else (a couple of days that is), it hasnt introduced that many advantages. When you proceed with the automated update scenario of FBX, some updates get blacklisted due to dependency conflicts while some are blocked requiring manual intervention… You do get recent kernels but its not that much of a deal breaker - especially if you’re a simple user like me. You are provided with a majority of minor bug and security fixes but again, its not worth seeing that you are not “up-to-date” every time you login in your terminal.

Maybe a year from today I might try again (when stable really starts falling short). But for now, I’ve reverted back to Freedombox Stable with backports. Feeling safe and stable : )