LMDE FAQ

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LMDE FAQ

Postby zerozero on Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:47 pm

________________________________________________________________________________________________________
09/09/2012
  • removed info about LMDE-stable (sorry but it's not sane nowadays)
  • added info about UP5
  • added info about mint-debian-mirrors
________________________________________________________________________________________________________

SECTION ONE - DEBIAN AND LINUX MINT DEBIAN EDITION

1) -Debian has three releases at any given time:

1.a) - stable currently debian 6.0 codenamed squeeze, released in 06/fev/2011 ( and with a new release every two years );
because of this long release cycle the pkgs in stable can and will be quickly outdated, but stable is the most solid O.S.you can have installed:
Understand that the job of Debian is, and always has been, to produce Stable. The other releases are means to that end. You may find the other releases perfectly usable for whatever use you have for them. Great. That wouldn't be much of a surprise to any longtime Debian user. Many users, including (of course) Debian Developers use them routinely.

3.1.3 The stable distributions really contains outdated packages. Just look at Kde, Gnome, Xorg or even the kernel. They are very old. Why is it so?

Well, you might be correct. The age of the packages at stable depends on when the last release was made. Since there is typically over 1 year between releases you might find that stable contains old versions of packages. However, they have been tested in and out. One can confidently say that the packages do not have any known severe bugs, security holes etc., in them. The packages in stable integrate seamlessly with other stable packages. These characteristics are very important for production servers which have to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

On the other hand, packages in testing or unstable can have hidden bugs, security holes etc., Moreover, some packages in testing and unstable might not be working as intended. Usually people working on a single desktop prefer having the latest and most modern set of packages. Unstable is the solution for this group of people.

As you can see, stability and novelty are two opposing ends of the spectrum. If stability is required: install stable distribution. If you want to work with the latest packages, then install unstable.

If security or stability are at all important for you: install stable. period. This is the most preferred way.

    - to solve the quick aging of stable you can use backports
Backports are recompiled packages from testing (mostly) and unstable (in a few cases only, e.g. security updates) in a stable environment so that they will run without new libraries (whenever it is possible) on a Debian stable distribution. It is recommended to select single backports which fit your needs, and not to use all available backports.



1.b) - testing (upon which LMDE is based) is where debian tests and builds the next stable release
The "testing" distribution is an automatically generated distribution. It is generated from the "unstable" distribution by a set of scripts which attempt to move over packages which are reasonably likely to lack release-critical bugs. They do so in a way that ensures that dependencies of other packages in testing are always satisfiable.

  • testing is the development branch from where the next stable release will come;
  • as so, it's also known by the codename of the next stable release wheezy (what will become debian 7)
  • testing is not a fully rolling release: it rolls for about one and a half year until the deep freeze,
  • this means that at a given time debian decides to freeze their development branch and for about 6 months concentrate in squashing bugs, so that the new stable release would be as solid as possible;
  • when LMDE came out (in september 2010) testing was in deepfreeze preparing debian 6, the same will happen from june/2012 until fev (more or less)/2013 when debian 7 is due
    However, we had to make a decision, and have picked on June
    2012 as the current proposed freeze date for the next release.
    [...]
    Note the above: we hope to FREEZE IN JUNE 2012.
    here

1.c) - sid aka unstable this is the true debian rolling release; sid will never be released, it will be always in permanent development, it's from there that (once certain criteria are met) the pkgs migrate to testing and then build (when the right time is due) the next stable release.
    - due to it's unpredictable nature, there's a few good practices to keep when running a sid-based system:
    The most important thing is to keep in mind that you are participating in the development of Debian when you are tracking testing or unstable. This means that you should know your way around Linux, Debian and the Debian packaging system and that you should have an interest in tracking down and fixing bugs. There are a couple of things you can do in order to ease your life as a sid user such as:

    Always be careful when you perform updates and check if the actions proposed by the package managing tools are in line with your wishes and expectations. (i.e. make sure that you do not remove a plethora of packages you need by blindly accepting the proposed action)

    Install the apt-listbugs and apt-listchanges packages in order to be made aware of grave bugs or important changes when you install new packages or during an upgrade.

    Keep a good live CD/USB such as Debian Live around at all times so you can still work on the system even if it is not booting anymore.
    Automatically create daily, weekly and monthly backups in order to ensure that corrupted data is not a problem.

    - apt-listbugs is a tool that might make your life easier if you are running sid (it's also handy in testing of course) youtube tutorial here
    apt-listbugs is a tool which retrieves bug reports from the Debian Bug Tracking System and lists them. Especially, it is intended to be invoked before each upgrade/installation by apt in order to check whether the upgrade/installation is safe.

    - lmde pointing at sid should have these repos:
    Code: Select all
    ## sid ##
    deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import backport romeo
    deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free
    deb http://www.deb-multimedia.org sid main non-free

    1.c.1) - experimental is not a standalone release. If you want to use packages from experimental you first have to install 'Sid' and then add the 'Experimental' line to /etc/apt/sources.list - then upgrade" (but with extra care, if sid can break, experimental will break for sure)
    Code: Select all
    deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ experimental main contrib non-free

    Users shouldn't be using packages from here, because they can be dangerous and harmful even for the most experienced people."

    You have been warned

    - if you like experimenting, learning and can afford a breakage now and then (with the consequent downtime it brings) sid is a great school


2) - Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) was released on the 7th sept 2010 at the time based off directly of debian testing;
    - this was/is for many users the real LMDE; the one that is closer (in direct sync) with testing.
    - when debian 6 was released and the new cycle began things became interesting and in order to cope with possible breakages we organized this thread
    - if i may a personal opinion, lmde is a great linux school, the only reason i'm still using a gtk-based distro;
    - the original repos (and the ones that track directly testing) are:
    Code: Select all
    deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import backport romeo
    deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free
    deb http://security.debian.org/ testing/updates main contrib non-free
    deb http://www.deb-multimedia.org testing main non-free

3) - Update Packs (UP)
    - in july 2011 the Mint Team decided to introduce the notion of UP in LMDE.
    By changing your APT sources and replacing Debian Testing with the Linux Mint Debian Latest repository, you basically point to a Debian Testing that is frozen in time and updated once a month. By the time the next batch of updates becomes available to you, the Linux Mint team has had time to adjust packages in the Linux Mint repository and to document the information you need to go through a safe and easy update.

    - basically the question was: the way lmde was structured until then (pointing directly at testing) was making life hard for the less experienced users, so the Mint Team decided to mirror the debian testing repos and release point-updates with "stable" and documented packs.
    - to help debugging those updates were created incoming and latest: basically these repos are identical, but incoming is updated a few days/a week before latest to test the UP and then it will migrate from incoming to latest:
    To facilitate this process, we’re opening another repository called “Incoming”, which is downstream from Debian Testing and upstream from “Latest”. In other words, we first update the “Incoming” repository. We test things out and we gather information from people using the “Incoming” repositories. And when we’re happy with the state of things, we point the “Latest” archive to the “Incoming” one.

    - latest repos:
    Code: Select all
    deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import
    deb http://debian.linuxmint.com/latest testing main contrib non-free
    deb http://debian.linuxmint.com/latest/security testing/updates main contrib non-free
    deb http://debian.linuxmint.com/latest/multimedia testing main non-free

    - incoming repos:
    Code: Select all
    deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import incoming
    deb http://debian.linuxmint.com/incoming testing main contrib non-free
    deb http://debian.linuxmint.com/incoming/security testing/updates main contrib non-free
    deb http://debian.linuxmint.com/incoming/multimedia testing main non-free

    - Update-Pack 5 is being tested in incoming (2012-09-09 edit date) and should migrate to latest soon.
4) -Fundamental tools to use with LMDE (specially if tracking testing or sid)

    4.a) -Clonezilla (almost a must)
    A little clumzy to first learn, but actually very easy to use after the very first time.
    a nice tutorial here
    youtube tutorial

    4.b) - Gparted
    tutorial
    youtube tutorial

    4.c ) -SMXI (especially helpful with video drivers)
    http://smxi.org/site/install.htm

    4.d ) -debian weather
    The "weather" of a given Debian-based distribution is an indication of how safe it is on a given day to attempt some package installation/upgrade. A "bad day" is a day in which a sensible percentage of that distribution repository is not installable due to unsatisfiable inter-package dependencies.

    just be aware that debian weather only monitors main, so conflicts in contrib, non-free and multimedia are not reflected in a given day "weather"

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


SECTION TWO - QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Q1- how is security handled in LMDE?
  • let's see, if security is THE most important value for you, then you probably shouldn't be using LMDE/debian testing/sid (stable is your answer)
  • debian testing security team is responsible for:
    The team is providing security support for Debian's testing branch by

    writing patches and doing NMUs to unstable as necessary
    tracking the fixed packages and working with the Debian Release Managers to make sure fixes reach testing quickly
    if this process is too slow, providing fixed packages built against testing in the testing-security apt repository:

    deb http://security.debian.org testing/updates main contrib non-free
    deb-src http://security.debian.org testing/updates main contrib non-free


    However, the majority of security fixes reach testing by migration from unstable. (more about NMUs here and here).

  • as you can see above only as a last resort the security fixes are pulled down though security.debian.org and only for debian main (contrib and non-free are not supported by the security team)
    Contrib and non-free aren't official parts of the Debian Distribution and are not released, and thus not supported by the security team. Some non-free packages are distributed without source or without a license allowing the distribution of modified versions. In those cases no security fixes can be made at all. If it is possible to fix the problem, and the package maintainer or someone else provides correct updated packages, then the security team will generally process them and release an advisory.
  • sid has no security team:
    Unstable is a rapidly moving target and the security team does not have the resources needed to properly support it.
  • some more reading
  • another interesting sum up about security

Q2- can i use PPA's in LMDE?
  • short answer: no, it will break your debian installation;
  • long answer: it's your system, you do with it what you want, if you break it, "you keep the pieces, we laugh at you"; but you were warned: PPA's are ubuntu-specific repos and more often than not you will find hidden incompatibilities as happens with others ubuntu libs
  • even knowing this you want/need a random PPA? fine! we expect from you to know how to manually add an entry to your sources.list.

Q3- Why are my applications not the latest possible version?
  • let's assume (for the sake of this answer) that's there's nothing wrong with your sources.list (check above to see if your repos are correct)
  • if you are using latest or incoming there's a buffer between your UP and testing see, that buffer can be longer or shorter, leading to a lag compared to testing.
  • if you are using testing, you might find out that not always you have the latest v. available, it's not surprising if you look at the requirements for the the pkgs migration from sid to testing:
    A package is installed into the testing dist from DebianUnstable automatically when a list of requirements is fulfilled:

    The package is at least 10 days old.
    The package has been built for all the architectures which the present version in testing was built for.
    Installing the package into testing will not make the distribution more uninstallable.
    The package does not introduce new release critical bugs. here
  • the newest pkgs arrive on sid or experimental and from there down to testing (after the high debian requirements are fulfilled)
  • but if you look at this and this we easily see that it takes more than being a good hacker and have a great app to have the latest&greatest available in debian's ftp's.
  • ok, this addressees the "why", now how do i solve this if i have an outdated app?
    • 1 - compile it (it's usually easier than it sounds)
    • 2 - can't you wait for the next UP (if tracking latest) or the next testing migration?
    • 3 - look in the immediately next debian release (just a reminder: if you are using lmde with the default latest repos look first in testing)
    • 4 - look around in the debian universe (there should be somewhere what you are looking for)

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Mirrors

  • As of UP5, LMDE has a new tool mint-debian-mirrors to speed-test the available mirrors, pick the best, change the sources.list according and backup the existing sources.list (/etc/apt/sources.list.bk)
  • If you need/want to pick a different mirror, there's a command line tool mint-choose-debian-mirror that starts the process again

AptPinning

Disclaimer: this is not an howto AptPinning (it's out of the scope of this faq), i will just try to give here some pointers about the subject and its relation with lmde.
  • 1- lmde has a preferences file (cat /etc/apt/preferences), unlike debian and ubuntu for example, look at it, study it, realize exactly what it means before you decide to add/change any rule there;
  • 2- if you are using the default repos and have no intentions in adding others this doesn't concern you, this file is only of use if you decide to mix (in a safe way) latest/testing/sid/experimental (just some of those/all of them/whatever);
  • 3- the way it is (default) the preferences file tell Apt that all Mint packages have priority (700) over any the same package from debian (500); this is ok because keeps Mint identity (and once again, if you are using the default just leave it as-is);
  • 4- the question is: if you leave latest and move to testing or sid you will find out soon that those preferences are interfering with your system; this is the call to look at AptPinning
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
with the cooperation of
GeneC; viking777
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby vrkalak on Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:56 pm

Very nice ... good work, guys.

The various LMDE / Debian branches are . . . fairly well explained and detailed.

Now, we just to have this "sticky'ed" :P
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby Brian49 on Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:12 pm

This looks very promising - many thanks. Just a couple of suggestions, please:

(1) Would it be worth adding a few sentences, perhaps somewhere near the beginning, spelling out why building Linux Mint directly on Debian was/is thought to be a good idea in the first place?

(2) Would it be helpful to make clear who might benefit from installing LMDE? For example, it could be: (a) existing Mint users wanting to move away from an Ubuntu base; (b) existing users of other Debian-based Linux distros looking for a good alternative one; (c) existing Linux users looking for a relatively easy way to try out Debian for the first time; (d) others (to be specified).
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby Gerd50 on Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:30 pm

I found two things which produces question marks in my brain :?

The sources.list in point 2)

- the original repos (and the ones that track directly testing) are:

Code: Select all
deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import backport romeo
deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org/ testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org testing main non-free


I wrote a german LMDE FAQ in December 2009. The original sources.list at that time was:

Code: Select all
deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import
deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org/ testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org testing main non-free
         
deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import backport romeo


Nobody understood the sense of backport romeo at that time. It was explained later in a blog note. 'Mostly emty,
only used by mint devs in order to test new mint developments'

That was the reason i published the original list with backport romeo commented out. The same i did here
- viewtopic.php?f=197&t=79533 - point 1.1


In point 1.c)

- lmde pointing at sid should have these repos:

Code: Select all
## sid ##
deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import backport romeo
deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free
deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org sid main non-free


backport romeo also. My list i got from the german debian wiki plus mint repos is this:

Code: Select all
deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org/ testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org unstable main non-free

# deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import


The mint sources are commented out, because i removed a lot of mint specific packages. I enable the source
sometimes in order to see if the installed mint packages have updates.

:?:
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby Monsta on Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:41 pm

That's... comprehensive. :) Thanks, great job.
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby mockturtl on Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:44 am

Great idea.
zerozero wrote:
    4.a) -Clonezilla (almost a must)
    A little clumzy to first learn, but actually very easy to use after the very first time. A nice tutorial here.
    http://geekyprojects.com/cloning/how-to ... -tutorial/
Something ate that link.
http://geekyprojects.com/cloning/how-to-use-clonezilla-tutorial/
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby KBD47 on Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:31 am

Good job! I learned a few things reading that. Interesting that in 6 months LMDX/LMDE will be frozen.
This may not be the place for it but I would strongly suggest at least one version of Mint Debian be based on Stable for newbies and others wanting a totally secure and stable OS. Maybe next year with Debian 7 release a Mint Debian iso available based on Debian Stable. I suspect it would be popular.
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby asymmetros on Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:07 pm

Great work guys ! :D

May i suggest to add the new mintupdate-debian among the other fundamental tools? Of course, it plays an important role for update packs but also offers a nice and handy way to upgrade your system whatever are your sources.list.
Another program that helped me sometimes while running Sid is apt-listbugs (it is in the repos).

Now, we just to have this "sticky'ed"


Totally agree. Maybe a note in the download page too. The sooner a new LMDE user finds this, the better.
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby GeneC on Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:17 pm

asymmetros wrote:..............................
Another program that helped me sometimes while running Sid is apt-listbugs (it is in the repos).
...........


Good point, asymmetros!
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Debian Usage
http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=62945

----------------------------------------
Another good forum to monitor for SID Breakages is
The Aptosid forum.

http://aptosid.com/index.php?name=PNphp ... c27c096455
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby zerozero on Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:59 pm

8) Tks :oops:
vrkalak
Now, we just to have this "sticky'ed" :P

well, if you know someone in the upper floor with powers for that, please :lol:

Brian,
great idea, tks!

Gerd, glad you bring those 2 subjects to discussion:
- backport/romeo (we definitely need to explain that)
- security with testing and sid (this a though one but needs a separate point for it)

Monsta,
tks :D

mockturtl,
tks, fixing it :)

KBD,
i'm still not convinced that a stable-based lmde would be the answer, the UP-system imho hold the answer for stability and novelty.

asymmetros,
:oops: MU-debian how could i forget about it? :lol:
apt-listbugs is shortly mentioned but you are right, deserves a better reference

Gene,
:wink:
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby asymmetros on Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:16 pm

apt-listbugs is shortly mentioned but you are right, deserves a better reference


GeneC took care of this (nice video) :wink:
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby dritzominous on Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:17 pm

Excellent! This needs to be stickied.

I just bookmarked it.

Thank you for taking the time to get all of this straight.
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby zerozero on Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:46 pm

dritzominous, many tks :D

- corrected some typos and non-functional links;
- added an entry to apt-listbugs;
- started section two (Q&A) with security in LMDE;

looks like the todo list is getting bigger and bigger :lol: :mrgreen:
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby Gerd50 on Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:22 pm

Because the sources.list is a central point of a Debian installation, i think the deb-src http:// thing should be explained
with some words too. I installed LMDE two times with 2009/09 and 2010/01 iso. With both the sources.list was this:

Code: Select all
deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import
deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org/ testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org testing main non-free
 
deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import backport romeo
deb-src http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import backport romeo


I never understood what for deb-src is good until i asked. zerozero gave the answer and maybe LMDE newbies also want to
know the answer?

In SECTION TWO i just found this:

The team is providing security support for Debian's testing branch by

writing patches and doing NMUs to unstable as necessary
tracking the fixed packages and working with the Debian Release Managers to make sure fixes reach testing quickly
if this process is too slow, providing fixed packages built against testing in the testing-security apt repository:

deb http://security.debian.org testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://security.debian.org testing/updates main contrib non-free

:mrgreen:

Edit: what the hell are NMUs? :lol:
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby GeneC on Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:25 pm

4) -Fundamental tools to use with LMDE (specially if tracking testing or sid)

4.a) -Clonezilla (almost a must)
A little clumzy to first learn, but actually very easy to use after the very first time.
a nice tutorial here
youtube tutorial

4.b) - Gparted
tutorial
youtube tutorial

4.c ) -SMXI (especially helpful with video drivers)
http://smxi.org/site/install.htm


Another nice tool
'Debian Weather'
http://edos.debian.net/weather/

Debian Weather

The "weather" of a given Debian-based distribution is an indication of how safe it is on a given day to attempt some package installation/upgrade. A "bad day" is a day in which a sensible percentage of that distribution repository is not installable due to unsatisfiable inter-package dependencies. A "good day", on the contrary, is when most (possibly all) of the packages available in that distribution repository are installable
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby Monsta on Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:08 am

Hmm... weather? Something like "cloudy, with a chance of broken dependencies"? :)

Oh, btw, I suggest keeping something like a changelog for updates to this topic, like it's done here: viewtopic.php?f=42&t=86813
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby zerozero on Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:46 pm

Gene, the debian forecast is on :lol:

Gerd, added links to explain the alien NMUs 8) :wink:

Monsta, good idea! that way?
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby proxima_centauri on Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:54 pm

* Made Sticky
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby BostonPeng on Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:54 am

Never mind. Wrong FAQ.
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Re: LMDE FAQ

Postby Alohacoconut78 on Sat Jan 14, 2012 7:08 pm

Thanks alot for taking the time to write this. It answered some important questions I've had about how things work.
Bookmarked ;)
Alohacoconut78
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