SCCS Update

For those of you who read my LJ and have SCCS accounts, but did not see the MOTD over the last few days:

The SCCS is upgrading our servers to the latest version of Debian this weekend, aka Sarge. All of the major Debian versions are codenamed after characters from Pixar’s Toy Story. For those of you who have been paying attention, this new version will allow us to support various nifty things, like a new version of PHP (and therefore better web pages, webmail, wiki, etc.).

At any rate, the installation has been completed, so the only step that is left is restoring from backup, which is occurring overnight tonight.

Happy upgrade!

Careful” from Keep it Together by Guster


8 responses to “SCCS Update”

  1. All of the major Debian versions are codenamed after characters from Pixar’s Toy Story

    Debian has three branches: stable, testing, and unstable. Debian is very conservative in their standards, so stable means server-grade stable. Many people (e.g. Swarthmore CS) run testing, which is more featureful, instead.

    Every once in a while (we’re talking like three years here, sigh), a new version is marked “stable” and a new testing version is introduced. With Sarge being stable, the current testing version is Etch.

    Unstable is really a sandbox, full of interesting things that will most likely break your computer. In honor of this, it’s always named Sid (after the kid who breaks things).

  2. I haven’t been paying enough attention to know that the new testing is Etch. Up until now I’ve only known Woody; I don’t think any of the SCCS machines were still running Potato when I became a sysadmin.

  3. I’ve had a few potato machines; I was always sad that I’d forever missed slink. It was stable when I was young.

  4. Alas, for public consumption, the Debian branches are rather unfortunately named.  Debian’s “stable,” “testing,” and “unstable” aren’t so much about “crashing or not”—what most people think when they hear “stability”—, but rather about “changing form or not.”  Thus,

    • stable means “feature and form stable”—the functionality, behavior, and configuration mechanisms of the 16,834 programs are guaranteed not to change.  Updates still happen for security and the “not crashing” kind of stability (aka “reliability”), but otherwise, the system does not change over time; it is structurally stable.  (Updates that are only provided for new versions upstream are backported to stable by the Debian security team; the structural stability is guaranteed.)
    • testing is the staging ground for the next stable release.  Thus, it doesn’t mean “testing to make sure these programs don’t break,” but “testing to make sure that the new versions of these 16,384 programs all play nicely together and upgrade smoothly from their previous stable versions on 11 different architectures with minimal administrator intervention.”  In terms of new version introduction, testing varies from being moderately liberal (or “unstable”) to quite conservative (or “stable”) depending on how close it is to being frozen into a stable stable release.
    • unstable is where the new stuff goes.  It’s called “unstable” because maintaining feature/form/structural stability in unstable packages is explicitly low-priority. The point here is to give up-to-date packages a chance to exorcise their wild oats, as it were, before they’re moved into the more conservative world of testing and, eventually, stable.

    So many pundits like to bitch and moan about “oh, stable‘s so old, and it doesn’t have the latest PHP, blah blah,” but they’re missing the point&mdashstable is explicitly not supposed to have the newest features.  It’s supposed to be as stable, as unchanging, as possible.  Which is what makes it cool: as an administrator, once I’ve set up a Debian stable system, I can rest assured that it will be provided with a continual stream of security and reliability patches that are guaranteed not to change the way my system works.  I can just relax and let Debian do their thing.  (When you’re running a production system, this is VERY COOL.)

    Debian stable isn’t designed for the people who want the latest and greatest; it’s designed for people who want to build a system that will remain optimally secure, functional, and predictable with a minimum amount of administrator intervention.  For those who want newer stuff, testing is generally a good balance between new features and playing nice, but plenty of people also use unstableMythTV is developed on unstable, and Ubuntu is based on it.

    Also, while none of this lessens the fact that the time between woody‘s release and sarge‘s release was ridiculously long, it’s also worth noting that Debian is a frickin’ huge project: 16,834 packages on 11 different architectures, all of which are maintained by Debian.  (Each Debian source package consists of an official, upstream tarball and a Debian-specific patch.  For a happy joyous fun time, go download some of the patch files for XFree86.  Yeeeeah.  These fix things like “on the third week of February in years that happen to be Mersenne primes, xterm may sometimes take a giant poo and translate the clipboard into Dvorak.”)

    So yeah, Debian’s definitely got room for improvement, but they’re hardly as far off the mark as many like to make them out to be.

  5. Need Osprey back!

  6. I’m hoping I didn’t misrepresent the names in the above post. I was attempting to imply (probably poorly) that, in fact, we’re talking about stable in terms of the components liking each other and the architecture here.

    The number of architectures has often been brought up as one of the major limiting factors here… it takes forever to get everything to work right everywhere.

    I think Ubuntu (which is based on Debian), with its 6-month release schedule (synchronous with the GNOME desktop releases), represents a respectable attempt at getting sid to play nice, though there is a down side here: architecture support is pretty much limited to IA32, IA32-64, and PPC, if I recall correctly. Likewise, they have significantly fewer available packages than Debian, though a lot of good stuff for desktop-y use is in there.

  7. Out of curiosity, when did you become the Debian aficionado?

    Also, is it just me or is Gentoo is feeling out of date compared to the bleeding-edge status they held a few years ago? Anyone know of any hot replacements (or any portage profiles) to fix the issue?

Nurd Up!