Chapter 5. The Debian FTP archives
5.6 What does the testing directory contain?
Packages are installed into the `testing' directory after they have undergone some degree of
testing in unstable.
They must be in sync on all architectures where they have been built and mustn't have depen 
dencies that make them uninstallable; they also have to have fewer release critical bugs than
the versions currently in testing. This way, we hope that `testing' is always close to being a
release candidate.
More information about the status of  testing  in general and the individual packages is avail 
able at
5.6.1 What about  testing ? How is it `frozen'?
When the  testing  distribution is mature enough, the release manager starts `freezing' it. The
normal propagation delays are increased to ensure that as little as possible new bugs from
 unstable  enter  testing .
After a while, the  testing  distribution becomes truly `frozen'. This means that all new pack 
ages that are to propagate to the  testing  are held back, unless they include release critical
bug fixes. The  testing  distribution can also remain in such a deep freeze during the so called
`test cycles', when the release is imminent.
We keep a record of bugs in the  testing  distribution that can hold off a package from being
released, or bugs that can hold back the whole release. For details, please see current testing
release information (
Once that bug count lowers to maximum acceptable values, the frozen  testing  distribution
is declared  stable  and released with a version number.
With each new release, the previous  stable  distribution becomes obsolete and moves to
the archive. For more information please see Debian archive (
5.7 What does the unstable directory contain?
The `unstable' directory contains a snapshot of the current development system. Users are
welcome to use and test these packages, but are warned about their state of readiness. The
advantage of using the unstable distribution is that you are always up to date with the latest
in GNU/Linux software industry, but if it breaks: you get to keep both parts : )
There are also main, contrib and non free subdirectories in `unstable', separated on the same
criteria as in `stable'.

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