Install Debian unstable (sid)

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Debian is currently using the wheezy (stable) repository by default. This repository contains older versions of software (for example nginx 1.2.1) while there are already newer versions available (for example nginx’s latest stable version is 1.4.7).

The reason for this is that the older versions are tested and proven stable, which is important for production servers. The updates in this repository will usually only be security updates, so there won’t be many big changes.

I prefer to use Debian’s sid (unstable) repository. Usually the software in this repository is not unstable, but it may be. It’s called unstable because this repository usually contains the latest versions of software available (this repository does contain nginx 1.4.7) and therefore it hasn’t been tested and proven stable.

You can install Debian, change your repository to sid and then perform an upgrade but you can also install Debian using sid directly.

Installing sid directly

  1. Download mini.iso (i386, amd64)
  2. Start the installation as usual, but instead of ‘Install’ choose ‘Advanced options’ > ‘Expert install’
  3. When you get to the step ‘Choose a mirror of the Debian archive’ you’ll eventually be asked if you want to use sid
    Sid mirror screen

Source: Debian wiki

Upgrading to sid

Note: as this usually upgrades many (if not all) packages the download size may be very large, depending on the packages you’ve installed. This method may also break things, for example some package’s settings may be obsolete and therefore may not work anymore. Please make a back-up before using this method.

  1. Open a terminal</li>
  2. Type nano /etc/apt/sources.list and press enter
  3. Comment out (place a # in the beginning of each line) all lines
  4. Add the following line (you may replace nl by your own country code for faster downloads):
    deb unstable main contrib non-free
  5. Save the file
  6. Run the following commands:
    apt-get update
    apt-get upgrade
    apt-get dist-upgrade


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