Debian

Is Debian Testing stable?

Is Testing stable? I mean, can you use it for office, programming, gaming etc. without any (or with very little amount of) troubles?


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  • Make sure apt-listbugs is installed, and always watch what packages are being upgraded with apt-get upgrade or dist-upgrade. Don’t be afraid to NOT upgrade a package.

  • You can classify problems you will see in to two categories.

    Bugs in the software itself, for those it really don’t matter what release you are running. The newer stuff in testing is a bit closer to the bleeding edge so you might see bugs in newer features or recently updated features of software. But on the other hand you are probably running testing because you want newer features, and you would see those bugs in pretty much any distro that released more often. In older releases you may have lots of non-critical bugs that simply won’t be fixed.

    The second type are bugs related to Debian packaging, and the way software was built. This is the type of thing that the testing, is primarily testing for. You will see more problems in new software that is completely new to Debian, or recently undergone major changes. Software that has been in the Debian for a long time and hasn’t recently had any major changes is likely to be fine. Though the first month or two after a new stable is released things can get a bit bumpy though since there is often a backlog of big changes before from the freeze.

    So if the software you want installs properly you are probably fine.

    As always though, keep backups of your data. Having a good, tested, backup will solve most problems.

  • You need to understand this before you decide to use Testing ….

    The primary reason Debian Testing exists, is for its users to help the Debian project.

    Not the other way around.

    So, if you are not able to contribute anything to the project, then don’t expect support from Debian volunteers if you have “troubles”. Use Debian Stable until you have learned enough to solve those issues yourself. Or find an alternative source of assistance. But don’t expect much help from Debian volunteers if you are in a situation where you have nothing to offer except complaining that something in Testing does not work for you.

    Stable is different. If you are having trouble with Stable, then Debian volunteers will be very likely to help you.

  • Testing is more prone to package removals and transitions can sometimes take a lot of time to complete. Thus, when breaks do occur, they last longer. Testing lacks official security support.

    You should use either Stable or Sid for your desktop.

  • It is a safer option to set the test branch’s release name in the sources.list (*Buster* as of 2018DEC28) instead of *stable* or *testing.* Right now we are closing in on the Buster freeze window, where packages will get locked down and only receive bugfixes the next 4-5 months. There are bugs once every while, but I’ve just updated from Stretch to Buster. I had to manually check a couple config files that I changed over the years, but is standard procedure. I expect some minor bugs, but have not encountered any so far.

  • I’ve been using Debian Testing for over a year now on a PC and a laptop with no problems whatsoever. I would generally say yes, it is “stable” for most purposes. I find it much nicer than Stable just because the packages are a lot more updated. Just know that once you make the switch to testing and upgrade your system, ~~there’s no going back~~ there is a way to get your system back to stable (see comment). But I would recommend it.

  • Debian Testing is very stable. However, as with all distros, you should always backup before doing updates….Timeshift is your friend.

    I have used Debian for many, many years (now use Manjaro) and always the testing branch because of the rolling release structure. I have never experienced an issue.

    I always tell people that if you move to Debian Stable and don’t install any PPA’s then that is the most stable you can get. If you do plan on installing PPA’s (the software is older so most likely you will need something newer for office work) then you just compromised the stability and security, so you might as well use Testing.

  • I ran Debian between Stable and Testing for 4 years. Just last month, I was running Stable and decided to try Testing for some newer packages. There were bugs when running sudo and some menus not working right. That wouldn’t work for me. Then I tried running Arch and none of those bugs were there, even though it has a lot newer packages.

    Long story short, Testing is usually pretty stable, but last month it had bugs that I couldn’t just ignore. Of course, this depends on each individual install and specific set of installed packages. My specific scenario may be completely different from yours.

  • I tried Debian Testing. The only specific problem I encountered was Civ VI would not launch after the Aspyr launcher opened. That was a few weeks ago.

    I then asked myself why Testing? I have good hardware, but nothing bleeding edge where I need a newer kernel. I listed off what I use my operating system for, and I came to the conclusion that I didn’t need a single feature added from Stable to Testing.

    I game, I complete office type work, some low level graphic design and editing. Everything all worked just perfectly on Stable. I Backported the 390.87 Nvidia Drivers for better Steam Proton support (even though I only use it for two old games)

    I use the Plasma desktop on Stable. I think it’s on 5.8.1? I am a heavy user of the KDEPIM suites (Akonadi) and it all works perfectly. Email encryption is a breeze with Kleopatra and Kmail / Kontact.

    So I am staying with Stable and will transition to Buster when it becomes the new stable and I bet that Civilization VI will work fine on Buster by then =)
    (It works fine on Stretch)

  • Sure you can. But there is a reason it is called “testing”. If there is no specific reason to use testing (i.e. give feedback when, not if, things break) use stable.

    If stable is what you want, use stable. If you want to test the distro, use testing.

    I think the Deban team has done a pretty well done way of making it obvious by name that there is a difference between the testing and the stable version.

  • As others have pointed out, you might have some bugs with some packages but as long as you are careful ([What are some best practices for testing/sid users?](https://wiki.debian.org/DebianUnstable#What_are_some_best_practices_for_testing.2Fsid_users.3F)) you shouldn’t have any problems.

    I’ve been using testing for about 3 years (with some packages from unstable)
    for my work and gaming and can’t remember having any troubles. I wouldn’t recommend stable versions for daily usage since there might be difficulties finding some up-to-date packages.