August 6, 2009

Testing Ubuntu+1 (Karmic) packages safely

If you're like, you may have a few applications that you are interested in keeping entirely up to date or at least keep an eye on the newest greatest release of said package.  If you're using Ubuntu, most development goes into Ubuntu+1 (another way of saying Karmic right now, but this works for any up-and-coming Ubuntu distro). 

One such application that I like to keep up-to-date is Firefox, which has a current version of 3.5 but doesn't exist in Jaunty (at least not branded as firefox). An example one that I like to keep my eye on is the arora browser, which doesn't have a good backport to Jaunty.  One safe way to test these without diving into Karmic is to setup a virtual machine.  Here's one step better:

  1.  Install Karmic as a virtual machine using KVM (this could also work with virutalbox)
  2. Run "ifconfig -a" on the karmic virtual guest and get the IP (we'll use 192.168.122.50 here)
  3. Install ssh on the virtual guest "sudo apt-get install openssh-server"
  4. From the host, run SSH with X11 forwarding and display the desired package on the host machine: "ssh -X 192.168.122.50 arora".

This will ensure that these development packages don't interfere with your working Jaunty install, but still allows you to test the latest and greatest in Karmic (or any Ubuntu+1).

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