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DebianReleases > Debian Testing


How Debian Testing Works

Packages from DebianUnstable enter the next-stable testing distribution automatically, when a list of requirements is fulfilled:

For more in depth information see the official Debian Testing web page: http://www.debian.org/devel/testing .

These requirements should assure that the next-stable packages in testing are both reasonably current and in a pretty workable state. Still, sometimes, especially when packages are being restructured, packages that are not quite releasable may get into the next-stable distribution. So, there may remain some of the fun of using a constantly evolving development distribution.

How to use Debian (next-stable) Testing

First thing is to assess the current state of the next-stable testing. Have a look at the recent topics in the debian-testing mailing list archive and update the Status/Testing Wiki-Page. Besides using these specific resources you can also use the general debian-user and debian-devel mailing lists, IRC-Chats #debian or #debian-devel, and of course the debian bug tracker.

For a new installation, the debian-installer team has a recommended testing image of the debian-installer. (Enter "Advanced options" and scroll down to change the desktop environment to XFCE (or anything else) if you want to avoid Gnome3.)

To upgrade to next-stable testing, if you already installed the stable release, edit your /etc/apt/sources.list substituting 'stable' (or the current codename for stable) in the apt lines to 'testing' (or the current code name for the next stable release). You may also do this with synaptic.

The code name for the next stable release, e.g. 'wheezy', will track 'wheezy' through its transition into 'stable' and later old-stable, while 'testing' will keep rolling on after a new stable release. If your rather want to track the wheezy release as it becomes stable, update your /etc/apt/sources.list replacing 'stable' or 'testing' with 'wheezy'.

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If you are tracking testing or the next-stable code name, you should always have a corresponding deb http://security.debian.org <"testing" or codename>/updates main line in your /etc/apt/sources.list . See this FAQ-Item.

After installing or adjusting the software sources, run apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade regularly to get new versions and security updates.

Considerations

An example for the kinds of temporary brakages that may happen in next-stable testing, was the upgrade from perl-5.6.0 to perl-5.6.1 which made perl unable to find its modules if they were from a package built with perl-5.6.0. By setting the environment variable PERL5LIB to /usr/lib/perl/5.6.0 manually one could solve the problem even before the fixed package entered testing.

Testing changes more often than stable, but not as crazily as unstable, expect that new stable versions of the programms you use will be installed as soon as they are ready for next-stable testing, exept when testing gets "frozen" to prepare a an imminent stable release. See also DebianStability.

Compared to stable and unstable, next-stable testing has the worst security update speed. Don't prefer testing if security is a concern.

You can see what distribution an alias is tracking by looking at the Release file; e.g.:

If you wonder why a package (or a particular version thereof) is not yet in testing, see http://bjorn.haxx.se/debian.

How does ''Testing'' become the new ''Stable'' release ?

see DebianReleaseFAQ.

See also