I run Debian stable, but occasionally my entire system freezes up -- the mouse doesn't respond to anything I do, etc. and it usually requires a restart.

Another minor issue is that Nautilus' search functionality seems to be totally broken.

These things aren't a big deal at all, but that makes me wonder what is meant by "stable" in the very first place -- I somehow doubt its supposed to mean stability for "home desktop users", as there are simply too many home desktop computers with different hardware/software configurations to ensure stability.

So, what does Debian mean by "stable"?

  • If you experience complete system freezes (not just the GUI failing but the console too) with Debian stable, there is a chance that your computer has hardware problems. – John1024 Jan 24 '15 at 21:53
  • @John1024 its just the GUI actually, I can access the text consoles -- since I'm a novice, I just restart my system at that point, since I don't know how to restart the GUI alone – user89 Jan 24 '15 at 21:54
  • Running Debian stable, I get GUI crashes maybe once a year. If you get it more frequently, my suspicion is that it might be because (a) you have some unusual & unreliable GUI program running or (b) it might be a hardware problem with your graphics card. – John1024 Jan 24 '15 at 22:08
  • Maybe you use non-free drivers for your hardware or installed software from different software sources like backports/sid . Debian stable without any non-free firmware installed, and not including experimental/different software sources is the most stable distribution compared to any. When checking the stability of Debian, excluding the above is must. Firmware bugs (specially non-free ones) are a hell. – Bharat G Feb 15 '17 at 12:57

A stable release has no serious bugs in it, in a nutshell. Before a release, bugs that are deemed sufficiently serious are marked release-critical, which means they must be fixed before a release and usually are. This does not mean there are no bugs. I have personally not encountered any bugs I would consider serious in a Debian release.

After stable is released, the only fixes that are generally allowed are security related bug-fixes. This criteria has been loosened a bit in recent years, for large and complicated packages for which security related bugs are difficult to backport. The chromium web browser is an example. Another special category is -updates (earlier volatile), which contains packages that are time-sensitive, like packages related to spam detection. However, these are special cases that do not compromise the overall integrity of the system.

The major drawback of a Debian-style major release is that, because of the freeze period and the release period (typically 2 years in recent releases) the software can get badly out of date.

  • 1
    volatile was replaced with <release>-updates as of squeeze. – jordanm Jan 24 '15 at 23:23
  • @jordanm edited. – Faheem Mitha Jan 24 '15 at 23:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.