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I've been trying to decide on a new OS for my production machine, and I was wondering what the difference is between straight up upgrading packages and upgrading to a new release.

If I install Debian 5.0 and then upgrade to Debian 6.0, will my computer be any different than if I just straight up install Debian 6.0? Are there any downsides to doing this?

The reason I ask is because it takes me a long time to get a computer just how I like it, and I don't like to

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The Debian dist-upgrade function is meant to be used when performing upgrades between one release to the next after making the necessary changes to your /etc/apt/sources.list configuration file to point to the newer release. It ensures that the package dependencies due to potential upgraded versions are resolved in the proper order. A standard package upgrade done via safe-upgrade only upgrades packages installed whereas dist-upgrade will install new packages that are now being depended on.

In the end the system should be the same as if you installed it directly to the newer version via install media if you do the dist-upgrade. The one thing you would potentially have doing a dist-upgrade vs a direct install is that you may have some old packages left on your system that might no longer be a part of the new version but didn't cause any specific conflict forcing their removal.

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