Novena Beta Repo

I have a private Novena repo of my own that contains packages that have not yet been released, but are good enough for testing. They may be unreliable in certain ways and have new bugs, but they also fix old bugs, add new features, and pull newer versions of the software. It's similar in scope to Debian's -testing branch, in that you're probably fine to run in day-to-day, but it's still made from software that's fresh from a builder.

Debian repositories all must be signed using a GPG key, and for the stock Novena repo this is done using an airgapped system that has never been connected to a network. This is very secure, as it makes it very hard for an attacker to exfiltrate the key or to sign malicious packages, but it's also very inconvenient. For example, the realtime clock is not connected on the signing machine, so the date needs to be manually reset every time a package is signed. It's annoying, but it's the most secure method.

In contrast, this new repo uses a key that comes from my Novena laptop. I can add packages to the repo using reprepro, and then rsync them up to the server using a pair of commands. Overall the process of signing and uploading is much less painful, and allows me to push out changes faster. Debian's dependency management also means that you don't have to manually keep track of what the latest version being tested, meaning the days of monitoring IRC for posts are long gone.

If you'd like to give it a try, grab the xobs-repo package from and then install it and upgrade the system with:

sudo dpkg -i xobs-beta-repo_1.0-r1_all.deb
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

This will download any new packages that are available, which currently includes a new kernel and a new Xorg server. You can expect more reliable suspend/resume and hibernate, as well as lower power consumption. There may also be other bugs lurking, and if you find any be sure to report them.

Overall, using packages in a repo for beta testing is much easier, and is the approach I'll be taking from here on.