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With "stable core" I mean the kernel, grub, init system, x server, audio server, et cetera. Basically everything that is essential for the OS to function.

Some distributions that I have looked into:


It uses a purely functional package manager called Nix. Purely functional means that it will never modify an existing package, and old and new packages can live side-by-side, therefore allowing me to keep my core stable and only update user-software.

This seems like the best candidate, however, NixOS is considered experimental and under development, so currently this isn't an option for me.


I have read about BSD's and I have tried FreeBSD -- which seems to do exactly what I want -- separate the core from user applications.

Unfortunately, BSD's are not an option for me either, as AMD doesn't support their fglrx on them.

Debian stable

While the core is stable, so are the user applications (therefore old as well). I need the latest and greatest user applications.

I have used Debian backports before, but it doesn't contain everything I need, and from what I've read it could update the "core" if a package does require a new version.


I have also looked into CentOS, but from my limited experience with it, it seems very similar to Debian stable. Ubuntu/Fedora/OpenSUSE aren't options for me, as their cores aren't stable.

Any suggestions?


In case anyone finds this via. Google, I will add my progress, as I am sure I'm not the only one having this specific need.

After some research I have found schroot/debootstrap, which seems like a workaround I can live with for Debian. Debootstrap basically allows you to install another Debian system in a subdirectory. For instance, you install Debian stable as an OS and setup everything you need (grub/xserver/desktop environment/audio server/et cetera), and the rest, like user software you install in your home, which will be using the testing or unstable repositories.

Link to Debootstrap:

Like this it is possible to have a system as stable as a server, with the latest and greatest software.

I have yet to find out how feasible this in practice.

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closed as not constructive by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Sirex, Sathya Jan 13 '13 at 19:25

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I wonder whether you'll want the Philosopher's Stone next! :-) – pnuts Jan 13 '13 at 16:57
@pnuts Yes! I was meaning to ask that next! How did you figure!? :) – user1973386 Jan 13 '13 at 16:59
Why do you say that Ubuntu doesn't have a stable core? – Michael Hampton Jan 13 '13 at 17:29
Because Ubuntu sometimes has a "minor" feature update on the core functions (which now and then go wrong...). A stable core should be that - stable, it shouldn't be changed unless it is really necessary (security bugfix etc) or unless it is a major update. – user1973386 Jan 13 '13 at 17:44

Foresight Linux comes to mind as a distro that offers what you're looking for.

Foresight Linux is a desktop operating system featuring an intuitive user interface and a showcase of the latest desktop software, giving users convenient and enjoyable access to their music, photos, videos, documents, and Internet resources.

As a Linux distribution, Foresight sets itself apart by eliminating the need for the user to be familiar with Linux, combining a user-focused desktop environment on top of Conary. As the most technically innovative software management system available today, Conary ensures that users can efficiently search, install, and manage all the software on the Foresight system, including bringing in the latest features and fixes without waiting for a major release. Thanks to Conary, Foresight developers can provide those features and fixes through rolling releases, allowing updates to be pushed out as soon as they are available. The latest version of Foresight is 2.5.0 which contains an up to date snapshot of the Foresight repository.

Mageia might be another interesting option as well. It's roots are in Mandrake but is purported to have all the latest.

Mageia is primarily a desktop distribution. Its best-loved features are cutting-edge software, superb system administration suite (Mageia Control Centre), ability to attract a large number of volunteer contributors, and extensive internationalisation support. It features one of the easiest, yet powerful system installers on its installation DVD, while it also releases a set of live images with either KDE or GNOME desktops and comprehensive language support, with the ability to install it onto a hard disk directly from the live desktop session. The distribution's well-established package management features, with powerful command-line options and a graphical software management module, allow easy access to thousands of software packages. The unique Mageia Control Center continues to improve with each release, offering newcomers to Linux a powerful tool for configuring just about any aspect of their computer without ever reaching for the terminal.

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Thanks for the suggestions, going to give those two a try. – user1973386 Jan 13 '13 at 17:47

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