Do you run Debian? Have you ever gotten annoyed at how Debian Stable always seems to be out of date?
I will show you a way that you can have apt mix-and-match between Stable, Testing, and Unstable sources. This will allow you to run a mostly-Stable system, but also track the latest and greatest of those packages that you are most keenly interested in.
Why do this? Stable is covered by the Security Team. Testing and Unstable are not. For non-critical services, like perhaps your mailer, or your window manager, this is not so important, and the newest versions may have additional features that are desired. It is these packages that are perfect for pinning to a version, other than Stable.
The first step is to set up your
/etc/apt/sources.list to include your typical Stable, plus the Testing/Unstable sources that you want.
sources.list may look like this:
#Stable deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian stable main non-free contrib deb http://non-us.debian.org/debian-non-US stable/non-US main contrib non-free #Testing deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian testing main non-free contrib deb http://non-us.debian.org/debian-non-US testing/non-US main contrib non-free #Unstable deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian unstable main non-free contrib deb http://non-us.debian.org/debian-non-US unstable/non-US main contrib non-free
You would probably want to add your mirrors, security.debian.org, and perhaps the appropriate deb-src lines. Here is a copy of my actual sources.list.
The next step is to create/edit your
/etc/apt/preferences file. preferences is where the apt-pinning takes place. Normally, the highest version of an available package wins, but we will override that.
preferences file may look like this:
Package: * Pin: release a=stable Pin-Priority: 700 Package: * Pin: release a=testing Pin-Priority: 650 Package: * Pin: release a=unstable Pin-Priority: 600
Note the decending values. Since Stable has the highest pin-priority, it will be installed preferentially over Testing or Unstable.
preferences file is what you see above.
Now we are ready to
apt-get update. This will add the new repositories to apt's list.
E: Dynamic MMap ran out of room
You may find that you receive an error like the following:
E: Dynamic MMap ran out of room E: Error occured while processing sqlrelay-sqlite (NewPackage) E: Problem with MergeList /var/lib/apt/lists/ftp.us.debian.org_debian_dists_woody_contrib_binary-i386_Packages E: The package lists or status file could not be parsed or opened.
This is caused because apt's cache is too small to handle all of the packages that are included with stable, testing, and unstable. This is also very easy to fix. Add the following line to /etc/apt/apt.conf
Thanks to R (Chandra) Chandras for pointing out this problem
Installing new packages
To install a new package, it is just as it ever was,
apt-get install <package>. If the package exists in Stable, then that is what it will grab. If the package exists only in Unstable, then from Unstable it will be gotten.
What if the package exists in both Stable and Unstable, but we want the Unstable version? There are two ways we can do that, each with a slightly different syntax, and each with a slightly different effect.
apt-get install <package>/unstable
This will install the unstable version of the package, and try to meet any dependencies from Stable. This may not work, but it will tell you why:
# apt-get install zsh/unstable Reading Package Lists... Done Building Dependency Tree... Done Selected version 4.0.6-7 (Debian:unstable) for zsh Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable distribution that some required packages have not yet been created or been moved out of Incoming. Since you only requested a single operation it is extremely likely that the package is simply not installable and a bug report against that package should be filed. The following information may help to resolve the situation: Sorry, but the following packages have unmet dependencies: zsh: Depends: libc6 (>= 2.2.5-13) but 2.2.5-11.1 is to be installed E: Sorry, broken packages apt-get -t unstable install <package>
This will install the Unstable version of the package, and try to meet any dependencies from Unstable. This may produce better results.
# apt-get -t unstable install zsh Reading Package Lists... Done Building Dependency Tree... Done The following extra packages will be installed: libc6 libc6-dev libc6-pic libdb1-compat locales The following NEW packages will be installed: libdb1-compat 5 packages upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 394 not upgraded. Need to get 11.6MB of archives. After unpacking 606kB will be used. Do you want to continue? [Y/n]
Armed with a complete
sources.list and a minimal
preferences, you can go ahead and mix-and-match between the various Debian releases.