At today, 13 of october of 2020, the stable release of debian is 'buster'.

I tried to ask my serve which is the current release and it's surprising

cat /etc/issue
Debian GNU/Linux bullseye/sid \n \l

Why did this happens? Can I safely return to buster stable and how ? How to avoid to go to an unstable release? Could it be happened doing a apt dist-upgrade?

  • How is it surprising? What did you actually install and configure in the first place?
    – JdeBP
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 8:51
  • It is surprising because I'm not a linux expert and because I'm, not the only who touched the server. I installed only nginx, mariadb server and phpmyadmin. I'm documenting now on what a release is for debian and when / what happens in a dist-upgrade, if is it involved at all.. I'm lacking info but I'm actively documenting.
    – realtebo
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 10:08
  • 2
    But as the answer is telling you upgraded your system to unstable, yourself, by using this line: deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib
    – A.B
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 10:24
  • @A.B: Yes, it's true, but I discovered / understood this only yesterday, after studying answer and more documents found on the web.
    – realtebo
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 7:20

1 Answer 1


Based on the setup described in phpmyadmin : Depends: php-phpmyadmin-sql-parser (< 5~~) but 5.4.0-1 is to be installed, this happened because you’ve upgraded to Debian unstable. Adding unstable to your repositories, without specifying a default release in apt’s configuration, would result in a partial upgrade to unstable the next time your ran apt upgrade, or a full upgrade if you ran apt full-upgrade (or dist-upgrade).

Reverting isn’t supported, but you can try; see How to revert Debian from testing to stable? for details, replacing stretch with buster and /testing with /unstable.

To avoid such issues in the future, don’t mix stable releases with in-development releases. The only suite you should add to a Debian stable setup, unless you really know what you’re doing, is Debian Backports (if you need backported packages).

  • The debian unstable repo has been added to lazyt-installing phpmyadmin. I removed phpmyadmin, the related apt source list entry and then installed phpmyadmin using downloaded zip... less easy to mantain but I think I avoid more problem in the future. Sad, a lot of phpmyadmin tutorial suggest to add unstable package to debian. Next time I will comment tutorial with my bad experience
    – realtebo
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 10:14
  • The simplest solution is to install phpmyadmin from backports, as explained in the other question. Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 10:18

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