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Up to date packages. Debian is just too obsolate.
For server environment, three key products are too obsolate to run anything in production: PHP, Apache and MySQL.
While I can appreciate that you want newer vresions of software, it is fairly difficult to insist on a long release cycle and newer packages. You can't have it both ways.
That said, most of the issues I've heard on this is because Debian stable installs php3 by default. However, it does fully support php4, which I use on my debian/stable server.
(apt-get install php4)
Also, on the x86 platform, especially on server apps, I suspect i386 compilied akes very little difference on speed.
Not that that really matters, because you are running on Sparc anyway...
Hey, wait a minute...