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I'm looking to install Linux Mint on my main work computer. Presently, I'm running Ubuntu 10.04 on it after upgrading from 9.10 (both 64bit). Previously, I have always backed up and formatted my hard disks, installing from scratch, as the distribution upgrades typically screw things up and slow things down.

The problem is that usually, doing this kind of upgrade takes a long time, about a whole man-day, from backing up to installing the new system to installing and configuring all of my software, etc. I don't really have this kind of time laying around to spend 8-12 hours every four months to upgrade things.

I'm pretty much ready to convert over to Linux Mint, my main decision is between the Ubuntu based version or the Debian one. My main question is if I can install Ubuntu packages and packages from Launchpad on LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition). I want a rolling version, I like living on the bleeding edge. Is it possible to essentially use Debian like Ubuntu, except keep it rolling?

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Debian and Ubuntu are pretty good at upgrades, as long as you don't do anything to make them fail like tweak things in /usr. If you install a lot of third-party packages, they might have dependencies that complicate upgrades, so it can help to remove them before upgrading (if you “remove” and don't “purge”, your customizations in /etc will remain in place) and reinstall them afterwards.

Debian and Ubuntu use the same package format, and they often use the same package names, so it's sometimes possible to use a package intended for one system on the other. But don't count on it always working, as the dependencies aren't always in sync. You'll have a little better luck trying to recompile the packages from source. Better, if you use a lot of PPAs, use Ubuntu.

Debian's rolling release is called testing, or unstable if you don't mind broken dependencies.

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