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Debian's proposed-updates Feature

Monday Mar 2nd 2009 by Juliet Kemp

Tip of the Trade: Debian Lenny hit the streets last week. Although the proposed-updates feature is hardly new, it is hardly known. This hidden gem is the mechanism used to prepare point releases for "stable" (lenny) and "oldstable" (etch).

Juliet Kemp
As you're doubtless aware, Debian Lenny was released last week, which is good and exciting news! There's a stack of improvements and software updates, as well as an improved install experience. Reading through the release notes, I also found out about a feature that isn't new, but hadn't been widely publicized before: proposed-updates.

proposed-updates is the mechanism used to prepare the point (minor) releases of stable (lenny) and oldstable (etch, which will continue to be supported until about a year from now). Packages are added to proposed-updates either automatically (in the case of security updates from security.debian.org) or manually by developers. Once rigorously tested, they are released into the main stable repository.

Of course (I hope!), you already have the security releases in your sources.list, but if you want an early start on the other proposed updates, and to help out with testing, you can also add in proposed-updates. Add this line to your /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb     http://mirrors.kernel.org/debian/debian 
        lenny-proposed-updates main contrib
deb-src http://mirrors.kernel.org/debian/debian 
        lenny-proposed-updates main contrib
and run aptitude update (or apt-get update) to pick up this repository.

Note: do bear in mind that these updates are still being checked. So while they should be fine to use, it's best not to do so on your Really Important Production Server. If you do experience any problems, report them using the reportbug package.

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