Living on the bleeding edge: Debian wheezy/sid
I've decided to start this blog and share my experience with Debian sid/unstable, the development version of Debian GNU/Linux. It's the leading edge, but sometimes also the bleeding edge of Debian development. The stuff that enters this fast developing repository spends anywhere from 6 months up to 2 years in it before average Linux user sees it in form of a polished stable release (Debian, Ubuntu or some other Debian Pure Blend).
So, with Debian 6.0 "Squeeze" released exactly 7 days ago, there has been an avalanche of new software in sid, all the stuff that has been patiently waiting for the stable release to happen before it's pushed to the new unstable branch that will become Debian wheezy in about 2 years. Ubuntu users will no doubt see the software slightly sooner, but for the adventurous of us, even that would be too late. ;)
Most notable additions in sid at the time of this writing are LibreOffice 3.3.1~rc1, Ghostscript 9.01, Xorg 7.6, but also many other applications and libraries got upgraded to newer versions. Right now, I have no outright broken/uninstallable packages (of about 5200 installed on this desktop system). But, of course, there are some bugs that lurk in this heavy developmental distribution, which is the exact reason that prompted me to start this blog. To share my experience with others, and sometimes even ask for help from fellow Debian unstable users.
So, one thing I noticed after an upgrade a few days ago was that my desktop (running compiz) became somewhat laggy. Switching among workspaces became much less smooth, like I had much slower CPU and/or video card (Nvidia, btw - using nvidia official drivers 270.18). Also resizing terminals and other windows became slower. After some searching and experimenting I finally found the culprit. The new version of Cairo graphics library (1.10.2-2) is bugged, it looks like it forces some screen primitives to be rendered by host CPU instead of using much faster GPU. The workaround is easy at this time, just downgrade libcairo2 to the last known good version, which is 1.8.10-6 (quite easy to obtain from the official Debian package repository). No package at this time expects libcairo2 to be upgraded, so that's why this was quite easy to workaround, although I spent much more time searching for the solution.
I also see another problem with URL handlers and gnome-terminal. If I right click on a HTTP link displayed in the terminal, and select "Open Link" from the context menu, the link gets opened in Gedit. Yeah, Gedit, the Gnome editor! I tried uninstalling Gedit to see what happens, and funny enough, gnome-terminal then complains that it has no application configured to handle the link. I double checked that Firefox is selected as the preferred application for HTTP links, and it is. I still haven't figured this one out. I guess I'll give it some more time, because I see that also Gnome 2.32 parts are finding its way into repository, so maybe after things settle down a bit, URL handlers will once again work correctly.
So, that's it for the first entry, feel free to leave a comment (you don't need to register to do that), especially if you have the solution for the second problem. But, I'd like to hear from other Debian unstable users even if you're just going to say "hi, another sid user here!". :)