For many years, when I had software troubles, the first, best step was to make sure I using the very latest software. Not the unstable version still in the lab, but the latest released version. This was because often the bug I was seeing, was already fixed, and if not at least I could report it without too much risk of it already being fixed.

I'm working hard to move from Windows 10 to Linux, and so am learning Linux as quickly as I can. I like Debian Jessie Cinnamon, but is it possible to get a more up to date system without rolling around in lots of unrelated new problems in Testing (Stretch)? I installed Testing (Stretch), but it broke a bunch of things that had taken me quite awhile to get working, so I backed it out, back to Jessie.

Is it possible to update certain programs on Debian Jessie, without updating the whole distro, and how?

One example: I downloaded git source from github. I hoped to get a newer version of git because there were mistakes in the man page, and I suspected other issues with it. When I ran make what I ended up was the same older version of git that Jessie gives me from apt-get. I even removed all of the git stuff first, but I still get the same old version.

Another example: I also tried updating MySQL from 5.5 to 5.6 using backport. But the backport version was broken and would not complete, and so I couldn't get 5.6 to install. I reported the bug but who knows when it might start working. I went around it and installed Mariadb 10.1. It works, but now I can't get LibreOffice to connect to it or mdbtools via odbc. Not sure what the issue is there. All I know is that I can't update unixODBC without it breaking LibreOffice, and also the unixODBC

And I've reported bugs only to be told that they were fixed long ago. This is frustrating. What am I missing? Isn't there an obvious way to update Jessie, with a few newer programs which I choose to take a risk with?

I'm too new to Linux to know how to approach this problem.

Here's how I think it should work: Jessie should install by default with stable software. But in apt (synaptic) you should be able to choose to load whatever version(s) of a program that you want. There should be 10 versions of git that I can install. If the newest or oldest doesn't work I can install any version in an attempt to try to get it to work.

  • I think the second bold question is valid here, but the one at the end & the paragraph before aren't a good fit for this Q+A format. You could edit the question to focus on the answerable parts. If you want your software to be up-to-date, though, then Debian may not be for you. Oct 17, 2016 at 0:20
  • @MichaelHomer, Thanks. Did some edits as suggested. If not Debian then what? I tried 5 different distros before I started, and liked the Debian Cinnamon best. Read lots about it. So many distros are based on Debian, so it seemed like a good choice to get close to the newest development. But perhaps that was wrong. In any case, I'm not happy with Ubuntu which I put on my partner's machine. Yes it was easier, but the GUI interface was lacking in my opinion. I've considered Linux Mint, but that too is based on Ubuntu. Not sure I want to change right now. Really just want to make it work. Oct 17, 2016 at 0:35

1 Answer 1


I finally got git 2.10.0 installed on Jessie 8.6.

It was installing by default into /root/bin, so was appearing to not have been updated. Tip: first I searched for git using find and noticed it in /root/bin. Then I went back and more carefully read the terse INSTALL file notes (excerpt below), and then tried this:

make prefix=/usr/local install install-doc install-html install-info

Also had to install a couple obscure (to me) packages: docbook2x and asciidoc before the last 3 make targets (documentation) would fully build and install.

Ref from INSTALL:

Git installation

Normally you can just do "make" followed by "make install", and that will install the git programs in your own ~/bin/ directory. If you want to do a global install, you can do

    $ make prefix=/usr all doc info ;# as yourself
    # make prefix=/usr install install-doc install-html install-info ;# as root

(or prefix=/usr/local, of course).

In the future I think there needs to be some sort of community standard installation data base that installers can use to determine things like the appropriate paths for Debian vs Fedora, etc. This must happen over and over, and could have been avoided.

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