I have Debian 6.0.4 (Squeeze) x64. Nowadays I use KVM stable package from apt-get.

Could you recommend me using a compiled newest or newer version instead of using the old one KVM package from Debian repository?

My opinion is, that more secure option is to use older "stable" versions from apt-get repo, instead of any newer versions.

What do you think about this?


If you want to use SPICE with kvm, you'll have to use kvm from a newer Debian. And it would be a shame to use kvm without SPICE (at least for desktop-type virtualisation). Also, you'll need a newer Debian for LVM thin provisioning which you may want to use in your virtualisation solution.

At this point in time (December 2012), if you need to install Debian on a new system now, I would go for Wheezy (the future 7). It's been frozen for some time, is probably going to be released in the first quarter of 2013, after which Squeeze will only be maintained for one year. So, whatever problems you may encounter now with using Wheezy is probably going to be less of a pain than the upgrade from Squeeze to Wheezy you'll have to go through soon.

Also, if you need to use packages from unstable, it's going to be a lot easier if you're using Wheezy at this time than if you're using Squeeze (for instance, I'm not sure it's even possible anymore at this time to install unstable's libvirt from Squeeze without upgrading most things to unstable).


This answer applies to most applications. You need to ask yourself the following:

  1. Does the new version offer features that I really need?
  2. Does the new version provide performance increases that my environment needs?
  3. Is upstream support of the application better than my distribution's support?

You have to weigh the answers to those questions against the overhead it takes to maintain software locally. With Debian stable, if there is a security bug, the fix will be backported into the older version. If you are running your own version, you will have to backport the fix yourself, or upgrade to a newer version. Upgrading production software can be scary, especially if changes are made to configurations or changes expected legacy behavior. Consistent environments are ideal for production.

As the administrator, the choice is yours.

  • Well, thank you for your answer, but I should more specify my question. Do you think could be better in performance the newer version? I met few bugs, but if you know how to deal with them, there are no problems. Problem is performance and stability of newer versions and that's primary sense of my question. I am not bank, I am just "ordinary" admin, who would like more performance but still some stability. – MIrra Dec 29 '12 at 1:40

With two reservations - I'm not using KVM, and I'm not an admin, just a laptop owner - I've had almost no problems with the Debian unstable "sid" release, using it every day (and night) doing all kinds of stuff for years.

On the contrary: I experienced a lot of small problems (e.g., Evince not showing some special characters) suddenly remedied by the new software, with no following decrease in stability at all.

Here, the Debian people describe sid like this:

"The 'unstable' distribution is where active development of Debian occurs. Generally, this distribution is run by developers and those who like to live on the edge."

With no disrespect whatsoever - I love their system - I think this is a massive exaggeration. The reason they express themselves that way, is that the Debian people are really into stability. What they call the stable release, we mere mortals would probably refer to as stainless, rock-solid stability.

But, as a last note of caution, as said in another answer, it all depends what you're doing. If you run a server, and your trademark punch is never-failing availability, of course you should use the stable release. That's an extreme example, and I made it that way on purpose, because it is my notion that in general, you should not be afraid of the newer versions.

  • 3
    You have been lucky enough to not try to apt-get upgrade during a major transition. The perl transition about a year ago caused apt to uninstall all kernels for example. Sid doesn't belong in production. – jordanm Dec 29 '12 at 6:36
  • @jordanm: That's a very good point I forgot to mention, I'm very conservative with upgrades and I only do it when I encounter a bug that I suspect can be fixed that way; and then, I only upgrade that piece of software and nothing else. I'm unsure what "production" is - but I write code in a lot of settings every day with no problems - of course, that cannot be compared to writing a commercial, say, F/A-18 Hornet flight simulator - if it is that sort of things you mean by production. – Emanuel Berg Dec 29 '12 at 23:46

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