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
More information about the status of testing in general and the individual packages is avail
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'.