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How 'uptodate' is LMDE?

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:12 am
by Redsandro
I am a big user of Linux Mint Cinnamon and Lubuntu.

I have also worked with Debian and CentOS, but for desktop/laptop usage they are hopelessly out of date. I mean, even the cutting edge Ubuntu and Fedora usually lack at least 6 months behind support for new laptop models and technology. This does mean stability though, so Debian/CentOS do have their markets.

But LMDE, based on testing repo just like Ubuntu, how 'cutting edge' is this? Is it more like Mint/Ubuntu or more like Debian Stable (uptodateness-wise)?
Is updating easy, or do you have to do old-school labor like spending an hour fixing your video card once per week?

Use-case: My Media Center, running XBMC, runs on Lubuntu 12.04 but it's starting to get old. Uptodate video drivers are so much better, but I still have to stick to the year-old-ones because Ubuntu devs have not been able to fix the post-release updater since frickin' 11.10, and I don't want to do a manual installation, because that would require me redoing it after every kernel- or headers-update. Yes this annoys me somewhat because newer versions do okay, but I chose 12.04 PURPOSELY because of the LTS and thinking that this kind of solutions would roll back to me. But no, not in a thousand days. (Actually, not in 510 days.) I should upgrade to 12.10, if it wasn't for amount of effort it takes to bring back the cable-cutting features I implemented, and me having to upgrade in 6 months all over again.

Are updates that break always going to break, or can I make an image, have bad update, recover image, wait 4 weeks, update again without problem?

Re: How 'uptodate' is LMDE?

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:37 pm
by cwsnyder
In the real world, you have a choice in Linux, you can have ultimate stability; you can have ultimate bleeding edge software (and take your chances with breakages, hoping that the updates will fix the breakages faster at the bleeding edge); but you can't really have both.

LMDE isn't ever more up to date than the unreleased Ubuntu branch. LMDE is based on Debian 'testing' branch, which at present is based on Wheezy which is in feature freeze until Wheezy is released. Ubuntu is based on stabilizing Debian 'unstable' or 'sid' branch to keep up to date, only freezing after the beta, when it starts to get out of date. Since LMDE is based on testing, it is usually more stable than Ubuntu, yet, because it is a rolling release, it will update to the latest debugged version of the software except when Debian is in feature freeze for the next stable release. This means that most of a 2 year period LMDE is more up-to-date than Ubuntu LTS or Debian stable without following the bleeding edge. {You tell the pioneers by counting the arrows in their body.}

If you want better stability, you already know to use CentOS, Ubuntu old LTS, Debian stable, or *BSD (PCLinuxOS or Mepis for beginning Linux users). If you want best bleeding-edge, there is Fedora Rawhide, Ubuntu pre-release, Arch, Gentoo, Siduction, aptosid or straight Debian or LMDE pointing to the Sid repositories, then keep a good snapshot backup to allow you to go back from your last update.

Re: How 'uptodate' is LMDE?

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:02 pm
by Redsandro
Thank you for answering. :)

To quote that busweiser commercial, I don't usually update my media center, but when I do, I have to install a complete new version of Ubuntu because 6 months have passed. (And the devs (or the policy) are already uninterested in backporting certain stuff that I like.)

It sounds like LMDE is not lower on the feature-chain at all, and in that case, a rolling release would be very desirable. I read about the increased break-prone-ness of LMDE as compared to non-rolling releases, but the imaging process is kind of easy because the system is on a little SSD.

So one thing I'd like to know, I am not sure if this can be answered as easily as I think, but if an update breaks and I restore an image and try the updates a month later, will it break the same way all over again because I missed a structural change and it just needs manual fixing, or will it go fine because the involved chain of packages will be evolved beyond what broke the update in the first place by then?

Also, does LMDE feature an update manager like the one in standard Mint, where they are rated for break-prone-ness (That 1 = safe, 5 = dangerous window)?

Re: How 'uptodate' is LMDE?

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:38 pm
by zerozero
Redsandro wrote:Also, does LMDE feature an update manager like the one in standard Mint, where they are rated for break-prone-ness (That 1 = safe, 5 = dangerous window)?
no, this "feature" breaks rolling (or semi-rolling, or half-rolling, whatever you want to call it) releases: you either update everything or nothing.

Re: How 'uptodate' is LMDE?

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:47 pm
by Redsandro
Ah, ok. I thought maybe you could do certain updates as long as you have certain dependency versions.

E.g. you can keep updating x as long as it depends on y >= 2.3.
At a certain point, you cannot update x anymore because it now depends on y >= 2.4.