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Recipe 3.10. Running a Mixed Debian System

3.10.1 Problem

You want Stable for a base system, plus some programs from Testing. That is, you want a rock-solid base system, but for a few programs you need the most recent versions to get necessary features.

3.10.2 Solution

Edit /etc/apt/sources.list to point to both Stable and Testing sources, then edit /etc/apt/apt.conf to set the default release. In this example, Stable is the default. Then when you install or upgrade packages, select the version you want with the -t flag.

First, edit /etc/apt/sources.list to point to both Stable and Testing. (See Recipe 3.2 for more information on sources.list.)

Now edit (or create) /etc/apt/apt.conf:

// This is the default system release-

// version can be: woody, sarge, sid

// or stable, testing, unstable

APT::Default-Release "stable";

and update your package lists:

# apt-get update

Stable is now the default release, so it's not necessary to specify it when installing packages. This command installs Tuxkart from Stable:

# apt-get install tuxkart

To install a package from Sarge (Testing), use the -t switch:

# apt-get -t testing install tuxkart

Specifying the package number will ensure that you get exactly the version you want:

# apt-get install tuxkart=0.2.0-3

3.10.3 Discussion

You want to be careful running a mixed system, especially when Woody is the base system. As Woody ages, binary compatibility with Sarge/Sid becomes an issue. Key system files, such as libc and gcc, can diverge to the point that Sarge/Sid packages won't install on Woody. If that happens, try building the packages from sources, or using backports (Recipe Recipe 3.6).

3.10.4 See Also

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